Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sonic Circuits 1

It's long been one of my quirks that I will get excited about concerts with national artists in other cities but give short shrift to what is happening here in my home town, Washington, DC. When I went to Baltimore's High Zero Festival last year, I was a bit nonplussed to find out that several of the artists there who I had never seen before were from this area.

Well, I'm trying to make up for that now. I've finally gotten to a couple of shows in DC's own experimental music festival, Sonic Circuits, one pre-show concert last Friday and one tonight.

The Friday show at Silver Spring's Pyramid Atlantic was a little much in some ways. I'm cool with hearing one or two electronic acts in a night but this show had five straight performances of solo and duo musicians hunched over laptops and effects boxes. It was a relief when the last two acts of the night brought real instruments into the fray. Nine Strings was a duo of four and five string basses and the 21st Century Chamber Ensemble was a lively blend of saxophone, guitar, bass and cello with scratchy electronic effects.

Tonight there was a show at the Kennedy Center's free Millennium Stage that featured the latter two groups again. Nine Strings was joined this time by a percussionist who bills himself as Pilesar and the Ensemble did an alternately melodic and noisy set in honor of John Coltrane's birthday. They were joined by another electronic group, Mind Over Matter Music Over Mind who played just long enough to get their point across. I plan on going to Friday's show as well, though that one will feature two international legends, Evan Parker and Ned Rothenberg.