This Weekend In New York: High And Low Culture, From The Met To The Cover-Band Depths
In Waste Of Paint, our writer/artist team of Jamie Peck and Debbie Allen will review goings-on about town in words and images.
This past weekend was a glorious cultural swan dive for Debbie and me that started uptown in the hallowed halls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, sailed down through some semi-respectable venues, and ultimately plunged into the whiskey-soaked depths of a 1 a.m. Rolling Stones cover show at Mercury Lounge. We regret nothing.
We thought it best to begin our weekend gently by taking in some experimental music in the comfortable confines of the Met's Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium; it played host to Molly Surno's Cinema 16 series, in which contemporary musicians compose and perform scores for short films both old and new. This time out, Nick Zinner and Brian Chase of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs joined Shahin Motia of art-prog collective Oneida and artist-slash-musician MV Carbon (of Metalux) to score films by Andy Warhol, Le Corbusier, Herbert Kosover, Edgard Varese, Rudy Burckhardt, Francis Thompson and Gina Carducci.
The program described the performance as "postmodern and edgy," which was somewhat inaccurate; if anything, the four young noisemakers showed extreme deference to the modern tradition of avant-garde composers like Stravinsky, Schoenburg and Reich. Although they were pioneered before most of the people in attendance were born, concepts like serialism are still fairly alien to ears used to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs's sugar-coated punk. Drawing a fair amount from these giants, the musicians did a fine, restrained job of ebbing and flowing in a way that mimicked the onscreen actionI especially liked the way they captured the frenetic jazz of typewritersbut I couldn't help wishing Shahin would jump up from his chair and bust out with a sludgy Oneida riff. Maybe I just need to time travel back to my Masterpieces of Western Music class and relearn the beauty of strange, quiet subtlety; it was heartening to see a standing-room-only auditorium of scruffy tattooed kids paying attention to something so different from the usual headbanging fare. See, parents? We're well-rounded.