New Original Works Festival 2019 at REDCAT

Reviews, Live Shows

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.

New Original Works Festival 2019 at REDCAT

The first week of REDCAT's 16th-annual NOW Festival presented three works: a one-woman play by Sola Bamis, a toy-train-set-staged play by zach dorn and Danielle Dahl, and choreography for nine dancers by choreographer Katherine Helen Fisher.  I enjoyed zach dorn's piece the most but found things to like in all of them.

Sola Bamis' performance features her acting a series of characters; a stressed black woman, the white host of a racist TV show, a TED-talk presenter selling newly invented tea "that washes down white guilt and priveledge with every smooth gulp."  (I'm paraphrasing.)  It was enjoyable to watch Bamis... she's dynamic and versatile.  The audience laughed at every pointed joke and nodded knowingly at the most pointed comments.  I laughed too, and was surprised by cleverness and creativity, but I wasn't moved by the work.  What's underneath all this?  Much of the acting was exaggerated and gestures felt like pantomime.  The work incorporated shocking images of racism -- I assume to pose the problem of commodifying black trauma as entertainment -- but I didn't feel like I learned something eye-opening about Bamis' experience or about my own privilege.

zach dorn's Lionel train set performance was the most technically impressive.  dorn moves about within a diorama of an imaginary Florida town, directing cameras to show us miniature buildings and characters as he narrates a meandering, imaginary (I think) biography.  The train drives a camera around the set, which dorn artfully uses to create interesting frames on the town.  He's constantly busy... turning on miniature street lights to illuminate the scenes, switching the camera feeds, and conducting the train.  dorn's narration was natural and adept.  He artfully dodged a headset mic issue, asking the sound engineer to mute while staying within the context of the story.  For all that technical ability, however, the story wasn't weighty enough for me.  Similar to Bamis' performance, I wanted to apply the performer's amazing skills to a more cohesive story.

The third work was choreography to music by Helado Negro.  The costumes were striking -- each dancer had a unique and bold visual statement -- and while I appreciated seeing the dancers' bodies, I was often distracted by the overt sexuality.  Tights over g-string underwear flattered the shape of the legs but I wanted to be able to focus more on the movement.  Many of the movements were delightful, and the arrangements of the many bodies compelling.  But like the other works of the evening I didn't understand the story-telling parts; a spoken tale about a cat bringing home a dead rat to the kitchen floor of a Malibu home.  Perhaps I need to push myself to search more deeply for the meaning here, but I couldn't help but be disappointed when the dancing would stop.

I've come away wondering just how clear my own compositions are.  Would someone say, "what's the point?" after seeing my naname choreography?