I didn’t intend to keep hammering away at last week’s already thoroughly beaten theme, but a recent performance at an Eagles Aerie (#34, if you must know) here in Minneapolis sent me right back to the surprisingly controversial topic of concerts. I don’t know how many of
you have set foot in an Eagles Aerie before, but it is by no means a conventional contemporary music performance space: A bar, but not the kind of bar new music usually happens in; a ballroom, but not the kind of ballroom classical music is usually played in; art hanging on the walls, but not the kind of art that usually hangs on the walls of galleries where a sound installation is taking place. In fact, this Aerie featured not one but three (four?) large rooms with stages. Last night’s bill, which included not only new pieces but also a Schubert quartet, some free improv from yours truly and friends, and a DJ, was presented one room away from a slightly larger room in which a zydeco band was keeping the dance floor densely trafficked.
I’m not sure what prompted master of ceremonies Colin Hacklander, a composer and percussionist who splits his time between the Twin Cities and Berlin, to pursue Eagles #34 as a venue for experimental music, but I’m glad he did it: for one thing, a ballroom with tables and chairs lends itself nicely to a bill with several acts that can be distributed among the room’s corners. For another, the material was suited a to a relatively informal context in which listeners were free to wander about and get some beer between sets. And the fraternal
decor suffused the proceedings with an aura that you won’t find at King’s Place or the Ordway.
The only disappointment was that (except for in the bar, that great equalizer) there seemed to be virtually no overlap between the regulars and the new music listeners. The Eagles’ hospitality was unimpeachable, but not a one of them, to the best of my knowledge, joined us dorks and hipsters. It’s often floated as an article of received wisdom that the spoils of moving shows outside of the concert hall consist in the outsiders we can bring in; if that’s so, the process surely isn’t as simple as throwing a concert of new music in a building frequented by people who wouldn’t ordinarily go. What, then, besides Coors Light, is the silver bullet?