#Iwanttodrawyourband does TWO BRENDANS & FAILURE FEST at SummerWorks
here are a list of my failings in no particular order:
All things money related are basically a total mystery to me.
I am almost always late.
Often, my temper gets the better of me.
I dropped out of university.
I am not romantically involved with anyone.
I am a messy, filthy, human.
I will sleep all day if there’s no pressing reason to get out of bed.
I am not particularly embarrassed by these things. On the contrary, I feel particularly moved after the joint performance by Army Girls, and the multidisciplinary artist that is Cara Spooner. So in spirit of Failure Fest– I am airing out my failures.
The show is the 2nd of the 6 interdisciplinary shows that make up the SummerWorks Music Series, which started last night and run through to the 17th. Each show in the series paired a different musical artist with a different performance artist (including theatre, dance, and projection). Each pair then was introduced through the artistic “match-making” of Michael Rubenfeld (SummerWorks Festival’s artistic producer). Each pair then worked together to create a unique musical spectacle, outside of (and quite frankly above & beyond) the regular concert going experience.
On Friday night, we saw ONE NIGHT, TWO BRENDANS- the first show in the series & a collaboration between Brendan Canning of Broken Social Scene & Brendan Healy of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. Brendan Canning wrote a bunch of new material for the show, and during his performance cited influences such as Joni Mitchell and Steely Dan. The visual accompaniment for the performance was some spectacularly trippy video art, being manipulated live during the performance. There were some themes to the visualizations, including the RGB, or black & white snow of a television. Also there was wilderness seen from above, and occasionally live feed of the band would selectively trickle in. Though it was kind of unusual to experience Brendan Canning in a seated theatre venue where everyone is quietly listening, the intimate setting did contribute a little beauty to the whole thing. The performance was at it’s best in it’s moments of improvisation- like when Brendan started a jam based on a particularly inspiring harmonica riff. He eventually reined himself in, admitting that he could probably follow that one musical thought through a lot longer. I certainly wouldn’t have minded.
Tonight’s multidisciplinary feast offered a very different fare. Instead of creating new material specifically for this performance, Army Girls revived an existing never-recorded album which they now consider a failure. This is where Cara Spooner steps in as the role of trickster and interventionist, creating a series of disruptions for the musicians while they are playing. Before the performance even begins, we’re told that rather than sitting in the “seating area” of the performance space- we should go stand in the stage area if we want to. This is first of our expectations to be toyed with.
Once the performance begins, we begin to realize that she is really not going to make it easy for this band to play. One moment she’ll decide to move their gear across the floor, one piece of the drum kit at a time while the band is forced to follow her whims. We the audience are also forced to move with her, and suddenly we are no longer just an audience but active participants that have to actually pay attention to the scene at hand. I know I feel a tiny twinge of failure when my pile of crap (purse, sketching utensils, coat, etc) gets in the way of the performance’s flow.
But besides the toying with the structure of what a musical performance is, what really resounds with me is the overarching theme of this “very weird” show- which is that failure can actually be a lot of fun. And the show actually was a lot of fun, especially with the nature of the programming forcing you engage with it. The musicians actually take the obstacles in stride, and you can tell from their good humoured banter that they’re also having fun with the experience of celebrating their failure. Playing songs that they will laugh about hating- because although they may have written a crappy album once, they loved it the time (and probably had fun making it). That the album overall was a failure ultimately doesn’t matter. There’s value in their failure because that failure allowed them to grow, and become better- and well, the proof is this mind shattering performance.
The night ends with cries for an encore (which are rewarded), and a dance party.
The series continues tonight with a performance called Weaves Through Time (Weaves/Alison Cummings) which is bound to be psychedelic.
Here are some collaborative works that Ehab and I made from the performances;