I’m not the only one whose been kvetching about all that fastidiousness surrounding so-called proper concert hall etiquette and the unwelcoming vibe it imparts to the haplessly uninitiated. It appears our collective moans and groans aren’t falling upon deaf ears—good news for the intrepid that will soon leave their safety zone to attend a new music concert. Summertime usually signals an artistic hiatus, but this year, things are, dare I say, lively. Time to kiss assigned seating and those uniformed ushers goodbye.
The most promising alt-venue to hit New York this summer is Spiegel, a giant globetrotting tent fashioned from canvas, cut glass, teak, mirrors, and billowing velvet, complete with an adjacent beer garden. Along with acts like Diamanda Galás, the turn of the century styled setting, pitched at the site of the old Fulton Fish Market, will host the Darmstadt Festival—hijacked from its usual monthly slot at the bar-cum-performance space Galapagos and expanded to 6 almost-consecutive Monday evenings. I can’t wait to revel inside this festive environment to hear the S.E.M. Ensemble and ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble) perform pieces by Xenakis and Cage. But this traveling pavilion, where Marlene Dietrich first sang “Falling in Love Again,” isn’t the only game in town this summer.
While Brooklyn’s favorite converted grain silo, Issue Project Room, has been hosting acts like Scanner and Francisco Lopez using their 16-channel sound diffusion array, another intriguing venue has landed on the shores of the Gowanus Canal. The Empty Vessel Project is a salvaged WWII rescue boat that sporadically presents performance art and music afloat the little-used waterway. And if that weren’t enough, the nearby Old American Can Factory, which provided an ethereal backdrop for Elisabeth Brown’s chamber opera Rural Electrification, welcomes live bands and hordes of film buffs during this summer’s Rooftop Films series.
Don’t expect to see me anywhere near Carnegie Hall this summer, or Avery Fisher Hall for that matter. I’ve already seen the New York Philharmonic play in Prospect Park. And believe me, they sound better while sitting on a blanket, sipping wine and nibbling cheese. So, what out-of-concert-hall experiences do you have planned?