Yesterday, we moved to official Lithuanian capital of culture of 2012, Anykščiai. The town is small and known for its wine, poetry and some metal festival, but this time we went there to see the legendary Nurse With Wound. Most of the time, I am disappointed by the Big names, and tried not get my hopes up very high. But this was not most of the times. NWW performance was one of those you’ll tell your kids about.
Which is why other performances, which also happened on Machine Started to Flow into a Vein festival, seemed just not it. Or maybe it’s because they were not that good?
If you go to any concert, make sure you sit nearby Popo – he’s harsh and/but right most of the time. At some point, he said something like this – is it possible that we get used to average performances, and somehow try to find positive moments everywhere, even if there is no hidden treasures there?
This made me thinking. Is it, really? Do we give some kind of Prizes for Participation for all those boyz and gals, who create something, just because they create something? And if so, where is that mystical critical thinking, which should be the force, which pushes everybody forward?
Don’t get me wrong – I am really happy about the scene in Lithuania, but, as in every field of life, it starts to repeat itself with time. There is a firm circle of people doing great stuff for many years now, some very promising newcomers, and of course, a lot of shit. It is possible, that since you know most of them both personally and creatively, it is impossible to keep some kind of a distance, because you know the context. And context in many cases means a lot – which shouldn’t be, because this way you start to make excuses. “Oh I know his performance sucked today, but his kitten died the day before, so you know” – that kind of stuff.
With NWW there was no context – and no excuses. Was only the pure power of people, who know, what they are doing, why they are doing that, and that they are the best at what they are doing. And they did it well, raising the bar of quality not only for last night, but for all the future performances I’ll ever see.
First thing I would like to mention is visuals, which were not, as usual, all about blurry abstract forms or just pieces, cut out of some movies. I guess, they are made specially for their performances by the lovely Canadian Freida Abtan, who was performing in Lithuania couple of years ago. Warm colors, slightly spooky idea – naked humans, who forms into flowers and creatures; overall – well executed and a perfect fit for the sound. Some idea of Freida’s style you can get here:
(What’s up with those blurry videos in most of the live performances anyway? Give me a message, not a reason to think you didn’t have time to get anything prepared, so you just filmed yourself in a bathroom, and put some filters on the material. If you can’t arrange something good, do not show it, please. No visualizations are just as good, since it may even seem, that there is a concept behind it (like, you want people to listen to the music, and not be distracted by the visuals).)
Moving on. Everything began with careful and slow intro by Steven Stapleton, Collin Potter and Andrew Liles. The mind fuck started, when McKenzie went on the stage, put his walking cane down, and calmly started to talk. The charisma and the voice, talking in circles – mesmerizing and impossible to process. Excerpt from it here:
NWW with McKenzie (beginning)
Then McKenzie goes back to his seat, and the madness starts. You know when the best performances put you in some kind of trance, and you are not able to think anything, just sit there and live in that other dimension? Well, you should, because these are the moments, which are the main reason to live. And there we were – sitting in comfortable chairs of cultural center somewhere in the middle of Lithuania, with eyes mostly closed, opening them just to make sure, that this is really happening. Having layers and layers of perfect combinations of sound put on our shoulders, till the point you think the weight of the sound will crush you.
All of it finishes with McKenzie, going on stage one more time, to give you the last blast of distorted power:
NWW with McKenzie (ending)
Words can’t really describe the feeling after all of it finished. Maybe just “what I was doing with my life before this?” works here.
And if talking about that, natural question was “what DIMETH TRIP was doing on the stage?”. I’ll tell you what – they were doing nothing special. Three guys (I guess, all of them are the organizers of this fest) know the rules, and play by them. A bit of ritual, a bit of darkness, a bit of sweet excerpts from Parajanov movies – all you need is mysticism, and you are all set. It was OKAY.
This is the reason why I appreciate SKELDOS even more. He managed to do more, standing alone on stage, than three guys of Dimeth Trip managed to do with three tables of gadgets. Why is that? No idea. Somehow, he has his own sound, which is maybe still not the most unique stuff I’ve ever heard, but really stands out, constructing walls of warm darkness around you. Nice touch was an accordion and armonika in the end of the performance.
ANDREW LILES also should be mentioned. He definitely had his moments, impressing with professional multi-instrumentalism. His pieces were quite various, but there was that feeling, that he just wants to show you, how many things he can do. And he did, but the performance lacked wholeness, especially when you compare it with well-integrated diversity of NWW. I guess, second best live show that evening.
Seeing Nurse With Wound playing live was an experience, which makes you way more critical to music you listen after it. And even though you want to give Prizes of Participation for most of the performers you see, do not do it. Keeping your eyes open is essential, even if you live in Lithuania and do not get to see that much of quality works.
Let the best ones win.