The Lie of Exposure

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?

4 thoughts on “The Lie of Exposure

  1. chris sahar

    Agreed. The Metropolis Opera Project did the same thing in 2010 featuring new music by Broadway and classical composers in a sports bar off 8th Ave in the upper 30′s – Port Authrotiy Bus Station is nearby (which would be an awesome new music space btw). Not the typical hip destination – unless you are going to a loft party late at night.

    And rarely was their a contemporary classical piece which grabbed everyone’s attention – I’d say there was one – in a very serialism inspired but highly charged and heated music. It and the big Broadway styled ballads (in a Rent style) were the winners.

    If any opf the regular sports bar patrons came they didn’t stay too long – they seemed to want very familiar rock/pop music serving as background music while they talk about the games on the big screen TVs.

    Nice to see people are still trying this.

    Reply
  2. BioFat

    I could stop at a Coors Light and be happy…

    Among many reasons, the Eagle’s Club was chosen for their booking flexibility, general laissez-faire attitude in the event’s planning, and prime location for folks in the Seward and West Bank neighborhoods. (And cheap beer).

    This spot was not chosen in hopes of seducing the Eagle’s regular patrons away from their routine Zydeco night. The new exposure was built into night through the billing– the concomitant diversity of artistic values and knowledge from disparate acts and their audiences. There were at least a dozen people there who’d never before heard a string quartet live, or ever listened to an entire movement of Schubert before.

    I must say, Wild Child was there for the Schubert, the improvisers and GOOD GOD, yet not a single member of the first two groups stayed to hear the totally charged and fresh underground West Bank punk group…

    Reply
  3. Colin Holter

    I must say, Wild Child was there for the Schubert, the improvisers and GOOD GOD, yet not a single member of the first two groups stayed to hear the totally charged and fresh underground West Bank punk group…

    I hope you’ll accept my personal apologies for that. I don’t think I’ve stayed out after 11pm in three years.

    Reply

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