Hiatus Kaiyote at Novo

Reviews, Live Shows

220213 Breathing Forests by Gabriella Smith (world premier)

Sobbing beneath our masks

211203 "Seven Pillars" premier at Emerald City Music

Inspiring composition, mind-blowing performance

210911 Sylvan Esso at The Greek

Standard production, amazing music

210911 Tune Yards at Ford Amphitheater

Low expectations, high reward!

210129 Cinematic Orchestra at Royal Albert Hall livestream

Monochromatic, but enjoyable.

201201 Sylvan Esso "With Love" streaming

Heartfelt performance by one of my favorites

201010 NDT2: Dare to Say

Proving that streamed dance performances can move

201010 NDT: Endlessly Free

The Other You is my favorite choreography ever.

201010 Kaoru Watanabe: Haruka and Akira

"Kibou no Hikari" made me cry

200411 Arugakki at JCCC Montreal

First steps: shaky, exciting

200322 Nederlans Dans Theater at Place des Artes

Vladimir is mind-blowing

200221 DRUM Tao at Jorgensen Center

pina colada cotton candy

191116 Sylvan Esso at Walt Disney Concert Hall

Moving music, delightful dancing, incredible sound

191115 Ohmme at Teragram Ballroom

Fantastically quirky

191025 Hiatus Kaiyote at Novo

Amazing music, over my head

191023 Frances Cone and Delta Rae at Bootleg

Introspective, thoughtful music vs showboating

191017 Cosmo Sheldrake at Echoplex

Great samples, less-inspiring looping

191013 Oregon Symphony premier of Andy Akiho Percussion Concerto

My new favorite piece of classical music.

191009 GoGo Penguin's Koyaanisqatsi at Regent Theater

A worthwhile addition to an iconic movie

190925 Cornelius at Echoplex

Bright lights, big music.

190726 New Original Works Festival 2019 at REDCAT

Craving a "composition"

190717 Mitski at Hollywood Palladium

How to make pop songs performative?

190614 Imogen Heap at Greek Theatre

Hide and Seek and not much else

190601 Snarky Puppy at Orpheum

So Snarky!

190319 Monterey Symphony: Sound Waves Concert IV

A drifting concert. Water Concerto anchored by Chris Lamb

190316 Miyamoto is Black Enough, at Wallis

Holy shit this was a good show!

190127 Hidaka at International Dinner 2019

Go Hidaka Taiko!

190116 Third Coast Percussion with Hubbard Street Dance

Unsure why I was unmoved

181120 Dermot Kennedy at Fonda

Solid show to adoring fans

181108 Birdtalker at Hotel Cafe

A special band, early in their career

180623 Olafur Arnalds at Cathedral Sanctuary

The power of sweet/sad melody!

180614 Dirty Projectors at El Rey Theater

Amazing quirk-pop!

180310 Miyake x UnitOne

UnitOne shines!

180224 Batare at La Mirada Theater

Laudably ambitious but scattered.

180223 QuiltCon 2018

Inspiring works, inspiring community.

180131 Kagami Kai at Asian Art Museum

Amazing mochi-making skills, frustrating calligraphy, and take-home encouragement

170416 Sigur Rós with LA Phil

Amazing concert with a few missed opportunities.

170115 A Seed: Ichi-Ryu Manbai

Overwrought concept, thin music, tragic flowers

160927 Sigur Rós at Hollywood Bowl

Amazing sound needs mixed set-list

160918 Road to Kumano: Taiko Project with Chieko Kojima

Ambitious new work!

160409 Locations and Dislocations: An Ecomusicological Conversation

thought-provoking, inspiring, exhausting

130514 Stuck Elevator was fantastic

Powerfully uneventful ending

081012 Byron's Bottled Water Operas

Welcome. Stay and think.

Hiatus Kaiyote at Novo

This show takes the lead for "best music I didn't love".  Ug.  I don't know how to write this review.  Hiatus Kaiyote's music is clearly awesome.  It's full of wonderful sounds, rich arrangement, interesting rhythms, and solid musicianship.  I guess it's in the jazz/gospel genre; the singing has jazz' complicated rhythmic and melodic changes and gospel's vocal style, where a single note is the source of extended embellishment.  I love how the musicians are so deeply feeling the music, and better yet, the audience was feeling it the same.  It was a dream audience: lovers of the music who are also good singers who have memorized all the intricate changes.  The music was hopping and the audience got it.

And yet, I'm embarassed to say, the music didn't move me.  I guess the melodies are over my head.  I found myself "appreciating" it rather than feeling it, like I would bebop or opera.  I can tell it's awesome, but I don't share the musical language that everyone there was speaking.  I'm hoping this changes over time.

The lighting design was interesting.  It was too busy for my taste but there were many beautiful moments and nice surprises.  Four risers of increasing height formed a diamond (like the videogame Q-bert) and around the perimeter of each were strips of lights that could pivot to point down at the stage, vertically to form boxes of light, or anywhere inbetween.  If it were me, I would have left them in the various configurations longer and made the changes more subtle.  For example, the stage smoke flowing down over the risers was beautiful, and looked best when the strip lights were set horizontally.  I would have treated this like a "scene", and only changed it subtly over the course of a song, but the show's designer chose to move quickly and boldly through various looks.  I found myself distracted by the lights.

Sound was great.  It was about 96dba at the back where we were sitting and it sounded best with earplugs (Etymotic).  The low end was clear, with bass and kick well delineated.  Some of the synth sounds were particularly lush and warm.  The drummer was enclosed in a plexiglas sound barrier at the back, even through he's a very subtle, sensitive drummer.  A decent-volume snare hit, for example, was played with the stick only about 10cm off the drum.  This confirms something I've been thinking recently... bands sound best when the drummer plays really quietly, and then the mics do the amplification.  Most bands' Tiny Desk concerts sound better than their club shows, for example.  For a taiko player, this has profound implications that I'll likely be working out for the rest of my career.

The Novo theater is very comfortable but it feels a little "corporate".  It's owned by Microsoft, and its emphasis is on enjoying the show betrays a kind of distance to art.  The venue feels like a movie theater.  There are cup holders in all of the seats and there's no flat floor space for dancing.  I'm happy to see shows there but it feels a bit cold.