Whew! The final night. After lunch and drinks with my mom (and a few ZZs), time for:
7:30 PM - KWS: Urban/Wilderness
Or perhaps 8:00 PM, depending on your source. I came in late but managed to see most of what transpired.
I always assume that people "dress up" when they go to the Centre in the Square, and I'm always surprised that nobody does but me, which means I don't learn lessons very well. The KW Symphony performed four pieces, the first two of which I saw from a blurry perspective and far removed from the ideal acoustics.
Kleines Requiem fur eine Polka (Henryk Gorecki) and Crystal Fragments (Peter Hatch). Nope, I didn't like them. Didn't feel a thing. Had the usual thoughts about deliberate unconventionalness, though both pieces had a fair share of melody and structure. Sitting, staring straight ahead, thinking about my footwear, it ocurred to me that somebody looking at my face might think I were enjoying the music or at least paying attention. Usually you can tell when somebody is enjoying their own disconnected internal world, but not always. So I stared straight ahead, thinking that I might look appreciative, while only staring straight ahead. I tried to imagine how people look when they appreciate things, but I didn't want to experiment for fear of getting foundation on my gloves.
The world premiere of Linda Smith's Wilderness grabbed me by the heart and didn't let me go. Quiet and meditative, no gimmicks, it appeared to come out of her soul without guile or self-consciousness. Lovely.
Peter Hannan's Side with Entropy, however, wins this year's Muffy award for most awful Open Ears piece. In order to qualify for this award the performance must be high-falutin' and pretentious...and totally fail to achieve its goals. After introducing the piece as an attempt to blend electronic gadgetry and samples with a modern orchestra, Hannan bashed out an awful string of cheesy sci-fi boops and whizzes, even worse than the ones you saw on Star Trek. This might have worked if it somehow matched with what the orchestra was playing, but no...they were off on their own tangent. It was laughable and stupid. Not quite as laughable and stupid as last festival's opera about serial killers...but close.
At every festival there are people who rave about the performance even when you can tell they didn't like it. Two elderly ladies were gushing to each other afterwards: "It reminded me of...Star Wars! Or E.T.!"
10:30 PM - Scanner: Alphaville
(That picture up there is of Beetle and I waiting for the show to start...thanks for all the fun, Festival-Buddy!)
Robin Rimbaud (Scanner) gave us a smart and funny introduction to his project: radically recutting Jean-Luc Godard's "Alphaville" and providing a live soundtrack to it. Without the dialog -- and with most of the human scenes removed -- I might have found myself hungry for plot, but instead I just drowned in beautiful cinematography and remarkably human electronic music. Images of faces and buildings and cars and machines -- lots of machines -- with inexplicable body movements and long quiet static shots, I found it difficult to separate the music from the film. Sad and funny and over-the-top, not a single false note, sheer innovative brilliance without seeming forced or derivative. Loved it.
11:00 PM - Systatic
By midnight the party was just starting at the Former Kitchener Legion. Billed as sort of an unofficial "after party" for the festival, it was shaping up to be an shockingly average hip-hop night. No liquor, only beer and wine. Uncomfortably warm and stifling. People from the festival filtered away into the night, adequately replaced by the very young techno kids who were surely the target audience. The beginnings of a strange gut-rot and the realization that I'd put off getting sick for far too long: I was not feeling well and I couldn't stand the music.
Then the drums started piling up around the dancefloor and I knew we were in for some raucous tribal drumming.
Definitely time to leave before that happened.
As a postscript I dipped into Club Abstract, but my metabolism was winding down and alcohol wasn't going to help. Time to go to sleep and reflect on the festival.
By far, my favourite moments were Barnyard Drama and Scanner. I guess what I liked most about them were their willingness to embrace some degree of convention, and their largely unpretentious demeanor. It didn't hurt that they both consist of extremely talented people.
Those two shows alone were worth it but I saw enough other fun things to make it more than worthwhile. Now it's time to get back to my life, and I'm actually looking forward to that.