I Went To See A Band...

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Friday, there was a small concert at Museo Arte Moderno, in San Telmo, using the Cristal Baschet, an instrument invented in the fifties in France by experimental musicians. Its a futuristic sculpture of glass rods and crumpled stainless steel sheets.
This particular version was made by Argentine artist Andres Aizicovich, who has a small exhibition of three different instruments/sculptures he built that work on the principles of the original french instrument.
Axel Krygier, who is an Argentine musician and composer, played a brief improvisational set- basically his first experience with the instrument, but Krygier plays a half dozen or more instruments, has played in many different bands, composed musical theater and movie soundtracks- he is capable of adapting quickly to any musical situation, and he effortlessly played the Cristal.
Sometimes it is almost like a string instrument, other times a theremin, other times a woodwind, in its sound. Axel also played it percussively, and then added some vocals and whistling to the mix.
It was very cosmic, transporting me to a dreamy state.
The show, and the instruments, will be on display until early January, and you can play them yourself. Here is the brief promo video the museum made, with the artist, Aizicovich, demoing how it works.
 

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Sunday night was the final evening of the week long Dilda Feminist Festival at Ladron Sancho. Because, you know, feminine words end in "a". It was quite different from Cristal Baschet music.
We went primarily to see Ibiza Pareo, a band I like a lot- electronic drumming and vocals of Ani Castoldi, and keyboards and lead vocals by Marina La Grasta. Feminist, electronic, and in your face music that makes everybody dance. And dance they did. The little bar, a converted house, like so many other little bars tucked away in BA, filled up with queers, lesbians, trans, and undefinable people, shrugging off their defensive street personas, and getting funky on the dance floor.
They did this song-

We tried to wait late enough to see the other act, Sasha Saytha, but it just dragged on too long- in typical BA fashion, the band that was supposed to go on at 9:30 went on around 1 AM. I have some of their music, I like it.

 

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Another tuesday, another La Grande. (the upcoming one is the last of the season, until Feb or March).
It was the Birthday of Santiago Vasquez, the founder and leader, so he took the night off.
Other members took turns conducting and leading, and the sound was more afro-cuban funk than normal, and very good.
The first invited guests were Nico Sorin, a noted film soundtrack composer, who writes all kinds of music, and Lulu Bartoldi, lead guitarist and vocalist for the heavy metal band Eruca Sativa. He was realtively subtle, singing and playing keyboards, but she ripped it up. She is a great guitarist, and was able to work with the big band, inspiring them without trying to dominate. And her vocals are great. She also knew how to navigate what is essentially a jam session with pros, as opposed to a band that will play YOUR song.
They did start out covering the eurythmics song Sweet Dreams, with the house band going in many different directions, and Lula tieing it all together- its a song she does regularly. Here is an acoustic version.

Sorin, on the other hand, has lately been working with the Orquesta Nacional de Música Argentina Juan de Dios Filiberto
and they recently performed Vaughan Williams Sinfonia Antarctica at the CCK.
This is an amazingly wide range of musical interests to be on the stage at once, performing improvisational jazz based funk with a gang of musicians who can play anything. At one point, Bartoldi starting vamping with a scat style take on the chorus to a famous song by Sumo. Papa o mama, papa y mama, papa o, papa y mama... And it all worked, gloriously and loudly and inciting the 400 or so people present to dance furiously.
The symphony sounds like this.

And Bartoldi's main band, Eruca Sativa, is just a bit more abrasive -

One of the things I always like about the Argentine music scene is there is a lot of willingness on the part of the musicians to consider everything, to not restrict themselves to one genre, and to look at music as one big art, as opposed to warring nations.
 

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So the story is that, in 2018, Juana Molina was booked to play the Roskilde Festival in Denmark. 130,000 people in the audience, and the airlines lost everything but Juana's 1966 Gibson SG, which, I believe travels with her in the cabin. So they decide to play a "punk" version of their set, without their pedals, synths, electronic drums, full drum kit, or any of their preset beats and backing tracks. Instead, they borrow a drum kit and a keyboard that was already on stage, and just do it raw.
If you have ever seen Juana en vivo, you would know this is a big jump for someone who usually has everything very prepared.

Juana decided she liked the results so much they went in and cut a 4 song EP in that style, without all the usual loops and fancy backing tracks.

And, this week, she played a live concert in BA with a fair amount of that DIY punk feeling, mixed with other aspects of her music.

It was at a cavernous new space on Corrientes, across from Parque de los Andes called Complejo C. It feels big enough to park a 747 in- I think it may have been a car dealership.
Juana had a preshow warmup of an invisible electronic musician, and gigantic projections, and the crowd quickly grew to probably 3000 or so people. Aside from the fact that the only seating is on a balcony about a kilometer towards the rear, the space is great- good sightlines, good sound and lighting, it doesnt stink of cigarettes and the floor isnt sticky- its almost like you arent in Buenos Aires.

The show started pretty punctually for Argentina, a mere 40 minutes or so past the announced stage time, and from the beginning it was great- The vague shapes hanging above the band, when the lights came up, were gigantic cloud/jellyfish forms made from miles of bubble wrap, which caught the lighting in interesting way- biological looking chandeliers. The band was rocking right out the gate, very tight, but with lots of improv and jamming in each song. It was mostly material from her last album, Halo, mixed with older songs.
At one point, Juana bunny hopped off stage, and the other two band members slowed to a droning synth and drumbeat, the lights dimmed, and, just when you were lulled into thinking it was an intermission, Juana appeared into the crowd from behind a curtain, stage right, 4 meters tall, wearing a gigantic bubble wrap gown at least 2 meters in diameter that draped to the floor, magically floating thru the crowd like the good witch frmo the Wizard of Oz, singing an entire song from the audience, floating backstage just as it ended. Her entire body was above the heads of the crowd, so she was visible to all. Very spooky and dreamy.
 

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Right as she dissapeared, the band left the stage, and then, in a minute, she threw aside the black curtains behind the band, as if she was opening the curtains of her living room, and she was magically in a living room, floating 3 meters above the stage- 2 chairs, a painting on the wall, a table with a lamp, and her trusty Martin acoustic. She did a mini-set singing and playing guitar, 3 songs or so, while the occasional mysterious ghost floated by behind her. Then she stood up, closed the curtains, and the band, back on stage, began the next song.

Almost immediately, she brought out her only guest musician of the night- Lula Bertoldi, who we were seeing for the second time in 4 days. Lula ripped it up on guitar, as did Juana. Which is kind of amazing- Juana, after all, is 58 years old. She had an entire career in sketch comedy, before she started releasing albums. Consider a similar US comedienne- say, Tina Fey- who is ten years younger than Juana- and imagine her rocking out, playing electric guitar (Juana's Guitar is 4 years older than Tina). I cant see it happening. After many years, she finally has a bigger following at home- she routinely tours europe and japan to sold out crowds- and this show was an occasion where she could tap all the local talent in staging and sound and lighting, and really put on a considered show that you cant usually do on the road.

I have seen her many times over the years, and she just keeps getting better. I bought my first Juana album a few days after I first arrived in Argentina in 2007, and havent looked back.

 

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I got really behind, due to the holidays, a week at the beach, and bit of the old body reminding me of its presence.

Before christmas, I went to GirlPwr, a 12 band extravaganza at Konex. 2 stages, it went from 3 in the afternoon til almost midnight, impossible to take it all in, and I didnt even try to take a twerking or self defense workshop.
Conceived of, administered by, and mostly staffed by young women, and 2 to 3 thousand women attended. Men, like me, were in a very tiny minority, less than 5% for sure.

But the music was great.
I caught several of my favorites, including Loli Molina, Sara Hebe, and the current Paula Maffia band.
Also checked in on some Goth/Bondage/Emo, Mainstream Pop, and Marilina Bertoldi, one of th Bertoldi sisters who is taking the city by storm.

As an old white man, I feel its essential to go to stuff like this- it beats taking Geritol.

Paula Maffia and Sons-
 

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La Grande is back in session.
Tuesdays, 4040 Santos Dumont, 8:30.
Be there or be square.

This week they opened with Miranda Johansen- daughter of famed Argentine Rock Nacional star Kevin Johansen. There was definitely a contingent of more mainstream pop fans there specifically to see her. But she only did two songs, a bit ordinary for my tastes, but what do I know- most of the music I like is not popular at all.


Coming up on Saturday, a special edition of La Grande at Sala Siranoush, in Palermo, featuring Juan Ingaramo- again, a pretty mainstream pop singer.
But when somebody like this plays at La Grande, they dont just let him do his hits- he has to integrate into the improvisational flow of the nine piece core band, and find spots to make it work. It stretches a more commercial singer like this to experiment, and it can often be pretty great, much more interesting to me than their normal comfort zone. And, of course, it benefits the La Grande band, by bringing in a larger audience.

 

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Last night, we went to Far Liniers- about as far from our apartment as you can go and still be in CABA.
The place we went, El Tanque Cultural, is a typically unique only in Argentina kind of space. Downstairs, its a shoe warehouse. Upstairs its an art space, a theater, a concert venue, a place for classes to fix your bicycle or yoga or crochet, and most weeks, music. Also a bar, and snacks.

We went to see two acts-
Astrogauchos, which is a side project of Ale Frenov and friends, reborn many times since about 2000. Its psychedelic folk pampas trance with dreamy lyrics and ever expanding beats. Indescribable, oddball, and right up my alley.
This particular version of the band featured acoustic guitar, keyboard and synth backing tracks, live vocals by Frenov, and improvised electronic percussion by Pablo Bendov. It was cosmic, and you could dance to it.
The thirty or so people there, mostly friends of the performers, all did.
It was like a family party.
Kind of like this, but no two sets by Astrogauchos are ever the same, and their long term member and bass player, Pablo Paz, is living on Lopez Island right now.


they played this song-
 

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Then, after a brief break, King Coya, aka Gaby Kerpel.
He was solo, weaving a dance oriented set with live vocals, andean flute, and percussion, over beats and pieces of songs from his long career, remixed and reimagined into something improvised and bangin.

Gaby started out with new wave electronic rock band Autobus in 1981, but he really ripped the roof off with his 2003 album Carnabailito which combined indigenous native south american musical ideas with rock, tango, electronics, chill, and a dash brian eno.
It did pretty well worldwide, where people thought it was "world" music, but its actually a sophisticated summary of all kinds of Argentine influences into a distinctly Argentine style- not reworked BritPop, not reworked american Boogie, not reworked Columbian Cumbia, but electro-folk music for the 21st century.

He then invented the King Coya identity in the mid 2000s, and uses that for his more dance oriented music.
His song Cumbiatron sort of epitomizes the whole ZZK electro-folk-cumbia movement here of the late 2000s to date.
Its still great, it sneaks up on you and makes you wiggle.

He dropped in snatches of that, along with bits and pieces of songs he has produced or remixed for other artists, and snippets of previous songs he has recorded too, but all in a jam that was constructed around lots of vocals, enthusiastic and unapolegetic dancing on his part, and a beat that makes you wann shake your tailfeathers.
At various points, much of the audience was up on stage dancing with him.

He is effortless in his ability to manipulate a heap of technology, and get the music out of it, bending it to his will.

He was a little bit like this, but more free form and experimental, and using fewer other musicians music.

Intimate, exciting, non-commercial, this kind of show is why I go out to see so much live music in Buenos Aires.
 
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