Monday, March 7, 2011

Zoe Keating and Todd Reynolds at Le Poisson Rouge, NYC, March 6th 2011

My wife and I were at the Zoe Keating show yesterday at Le Poisson Rouge in NYC.
We both enjoyed the show very much. Forgive me for not having any pictures, we forgot our camera at home.
Despite standing in the rain outside the venue until we were let in (and then we met the rain again as we left the show), it did not dampen our spirits. The music was beautiful, Zoe was delightful and amicable, and the venue was fine. 
Now allow me to be a little more analytical and "cold" in my account:
Zoe Keating performed at Le Poisson Rouge in NYC with Todd Reynolds as first act. Todd Reynolds, whom I didn't know anything about until this show, gave a very nice performance. He played the violin with his laptop and pedals controlling loops and effects. He played a few pieces from his upcoming release. His music seems to reside in the same "ball-park" as that of Zoe, though what he played in the show had a bit more of an experimental and exploratory nature.
He also had a nice segment where he invited a person from the audience to play on a Monome as he improvised around it.
I really liked what Todd played and how he played it, and I'll definitely check out his upcoming release, Outerborough, on Innova.

Zoe performed several pieces from her albums Natoma and Into The Trees. Before starting her concert, since this show was broadcasted live on the internet, she was interviewed shortly about her choice to create as a solo musician, rather than in a group or orchestra. To which she replied that basically, it is easier and cheaper to work this way, and that it's much easier to control a computer than people, though she laughed at that point and wished to retract that statement, saying it sounded aweful.
When she played she did so mostly with her eyes closed, unless she needed to follow her computer or pedals. She seemed to zone out while letting her music flow out of herself. In between pieces, she spoke a little about herself and her music and about the pieces she was playing. She spoke about moving from the city, San Francisco, into the forest (Escape Artist); she spoke of a tune she composed for her then-unborn baby (Optimist); she spoke of being lost in a Forest (Lost); she spoke about wandering in the forest (Seven League Boots); and she mentioned her youth and playing classical music before playing her beautiful rendition to Beethoven's 2nd movement of the 7th symphony.

It was remarkable to watch her work, create those loops and manage and edit them, then play over them, never forsaking the emotion but always keeping up her technique. Her music is beautiful, emotional and evoking. It felt intimate, despite the venue being full (and sold-out).
The only things that I could consider as a downsides (but didn't do much to detract from the experience for me) were the occasional sharp and harsh ending of a loop and the other being the sound of the loop itself after being recorded on the laptop vs. the sound of the live cello. I could tell the difference as it sounded a little muffled; but again, these weren't that noticeable and really had little impact if at all on me.

In the end, Zoe and Todd performed an improvisation together, which had some very cool bits. They both seemed to enjoy it, even if starting a bit unsure of themselves (or least, that's how it appeared). Todd, with the violin, was somewhat more dominant and I particularly liked his plucking at the strings, which Zoe did as well.

What struck me most, was Zoe lovely and lively personality, her down-to-earth attitude and humbleness. When she plays, she is somewhere else, hence her closing her eyes. Add to that her wonderful music, and you get a recipe for a great concert.

I would definitely go and see her again when she comes back for another visit. 

You can stream her music here.

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