Monday, 19 May 2008

Nuts and Seeds, Tinariwen, and Not Drawing

Nuts and Seeds, Nice and Sleazy’s
Tinariwen, The Arches
All in One Night

I felt a bit of a fraud last night when I was standing, dressed up, my redundant drawing materials bag at my feet, and my comp. ticket bent in my hot sweaty hand, watching one of the most 'recent' lauded rock bands from Africa. After having read clippings, quotes and viewed a short documentary, I was aware that Tinariwen, the 7+ group from Mali, were a much respected and followed group, playing their ‘Tuareg’ style guitar music, the main scraggy haired chap Ibrahim Ag Alhabib being the main driving force behind them all.

Ibrahim or ‘Abaraybone’ as he’s nicknamed - which apparently means ‘ragamuffin kid’ – stood elegant and stoic amongst his group. His long hair, a desert worn afro, seems to be emblematic of the music that is more challenging and contemporary than more traditional music from Mali. Not that they don’t draw on their musical heritage, but they question their existence more, and comment on daily life and troubles instead of lauding past warriors of old. Having been exiled as a young child after the execution of his father and their farm animals, these events are bound to have had a monumental effect in Ibrahim’s outlook and subsequent response.

The atmosphere was hot and heavy with a good mix of folks in the audience, a little subtle in their movements due to it being packed, but responded with warm enthusiasm to the other lead vocalist/guitar player Abdallah’s check to see if “y’alright?”
The projected visuals in the background added fire to the dark chasm of the Arches, while the lighting lit up their bright traditional costumes. I wondered if some of the band members’ choice to wear the desert garb was merely for show, or whether they didn’t wish to be scrutinized during their performances. It looked pretty authentic, but I have seen photos where they seem to be wearing more retro western rock garb. Did the Glasgow audience appreciate their cultural get up? Did it matter? I think it did.

However after hearing 5 or 6 songs, and getting a sufficient taste of them, I was pulled to another event happening elsewhere. I bowed out after half an hour, guilty of not drawing, and the desire to see what Nuts and Seeds had to offer at Nice and Sleazys.

Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed. I even paid to get in – 4 quid is a very decent price, tonight however I was on a mission just to listen and take it all in.

Note: (I do go on a bit here; if you’re looking for a simple review of the gig, scroll down)

Before I set on my epic collision course to ‘drawing the experience’ and translating what I sensed and witnessed of a music performance, I was one of those prattish types who just got down and boogied at the front, whatever type of music influencing my erratic flailing movements. I miss those days.

Now it’s a different sort of ‘elated improvised choreography’, and much more restricted. My juddering leg can still attempt to get the better of me at times, but I quell it with the strict instructions that my paper needs to be still in order to draw, any juddering must be translated via my hand. Adamant that my pictures must not be photorealistic, I aim to document the performance, with the style of drawing being affected by the music, character and energy. I’ve reached a point now though, where I don’t know if I’ve honed a formula that isn’t so much of a filter, as more of a stylized characterisation of the event.
I also haven’t figured out whether that’s what I want or not. I will continue to explore for now.

Getting back to the performances, (Crikey this is turning into a right tome! Stop rambling Jen!).

Okay I’m going to try to be brief.

Nuts and Seeds @ Nice and Sleazy’s

Sparrow and the Workshop – Only caught their last song – fun and creative, hill billyish, Bonny Prince Billyish, Cat Powerish, Jeff Buckleyish, 2 blokes and a girl. Look like they should be called a Hawk and a Hacksaw, but with more tools.

Drumkit, guitar, violin and saw. Good looking bearded drummer sings. Violin, guitar playing girl is cute and I heard the end of her lovely singing. Shyish looking young guy played guitar, could possibly play other instruments. Good vibes from this group. Apparently they’re playing Dunstaffnage Music Festival this year. Definitely want to check them out properly.

Foxface – I am a confirmed Fox Face fan. I can’t help myself; they’re raw, they’re arty, they’re multi-talented, they use their Scottish roots from which spring different slants on traditional songs, and organically grown hybrids of fairy tales and fantasies. They’re catchy and rare. There was only one song that my attention wandered on, but everything else had me hooked. They’re also a beautiful looking bunch. And their new t-shirts rock!
(Okay Jen time to wipe up your drool now…)

The Oh-Sees – I pity the elected gimp that had to wipe down the walls, ceiling and stage after the main man John? hawked up enough slev to serve in a soup bowl. Mingin’. (Hypocrite)

Yeah, just because ye think yer a wee genius from the States with an alternative hyped up tattooed band, their instruments up to their oxters, token ‘attractive rock chick’ on percussion and vocals, and drummer with downsized drum kit so he can tan his gangly arms up and down their skins, does not mean you can recoat the insides of Sleazy’s from your over stimulated saliva glands. Even with your possessed skinny jeans/broad shoulders/mad bangs/twisted energetics and sob story ‘bout your favourite twelve string Geetar that American Airlines violated en route.

That said, I thought these guys were fantastic - brutal, brash, jangly, melodic, well timed, tight, manic, surprising, challenging, ecstatic - even with all the little flaws, duct taping and overindulgence of ‘scottish beer’. The lovely ‘Shelley Duvall-like’ Bridgid is the Yin to their Yang. Oh, and the bassist is single…

All Praise Nuts and Seeds.

No comments: