5 must-see shows at the 2013 X Avant Music Festival
The Music Gallery's 2013 X Avant Festival lineup is without a doubt what many experimental, pop, jazz, noise, classical, and world music fans would call exciting, and what some other music lovers would hesitatingly call "interesting." Yet the 10 day, seven show fest isn't all weird dudes sharing the stage with their stuffed animals — more on that in a minute — A Tribe Called Red will be in town for what can and should be festival's best dance party ever, and Morton Feldman's String Quartet No. 2 promise a "slow motion rave," which, to be fair, still falls under "interesting." But at X Avant, as in life, interesting is nothing if not something to aspire to.
Housed in a modest yet lovely church building (if you're into that kind of thing), The Music Gallery itself, home to most scheduled X Avant events, is a treasure of the Toronto music scene. The acoustics are good, minds are open, and the vibe is relaxed (drinks in the courtyard!) yet always reverent to the art. As the festival prepares to enter its 8th year, here's our guide to what to see at X Avant 2013.
Quartetski Plays The Rite Of Spring
X Avant kicks off this Friday with Quartetski rework of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. While some of you will remember it from the dinosaur parts of Fantasia (omg), Stravinsky's dissonant, wtf-is-this ballet score, which turns 100 in 2013, freaked a lot of people out when it premiered in Paris, and is a gateway to avant-garde music today. Montreal improvisors Quartetski promise to bring in new instruments (some likely won't look like instruments) to make it more chaotic than ever. Friday, October 11, doors 7PM, show 8PM, $15 advance.
Morton Feldman's String Quartet No. 2
What is a 6 hour, slow motion rave? the FLUX Quartet seem to have it down. They will be testing their own (and your) endurance with their performance of the Morton Feldman composition, spanning two venues (there will be a chillout room) and incorporating video games, food vendors on site and a live broadcast on CIUT 89.5FM. You will emerge a changed body. Saturday, October 12, doors 5PM, concert 6PM, tickets $25 advance.
Contemporary of Philip Glass, Terry Riley, and Steve Reich, Charlemagne Palestine brings trance music to the piano — because your piano deserves to space out too. And I do mean space out: this guy's best known work is a 45 minute composition made of only two notes. Lover of clove cigarettes (true to my own heart, this man), Palestine will apparently keep a "snifter of cognac" at his side, and there will also be not one, but a multitude of stuffed animals. To be honest, this is beginning to sound like my bedroom. Toronto classical/electronic composer Rose Bolton is also on the bill. Sunday, October 13, doors 7PM concert 8PM, tickets $25 advance.
Not The Wind Not The Flag & William Parker
Damn, when are Toronto's Not the Wind Not the Flag going to break out and tour with Bieber? Or at least Drake. Canada's best kept secret, Colin Fisher and Brandon Valdivia's NTW NTF take improv music all around the world and back, yet somehow they always frame it with the sensibilities of the Toronto underground: fresh, new, innovative, and not particularly fuck giving. Fisher is the. best. drummer. I've. ever. seen., and Valdivia's had his hands in so many intriguing and wonderful musical projects in this city, including Pachamama with Alex MacKenzie of Petra Glynt, that we may as well just call him Toronto's other favorite son. On the 17th they'll collaborate with contemporary bass master William Parker; it's almost too good to be real. Eucalyptus, one of Toronto's weirdest calypso ensembles (okay, probably the weirdest) is opening. Tuesday, October 17th, doors 7PM, concert 8PM, tickets $15 advance.
A Tribe Called Red & Nelson Tagoona
If your ears aren't attuned to boundary-pushing A Tribe Called Red's so-called electric pow wow, I'm not sure what you're doing with your life. The Ottawa trio combine traditional aboriginal music with what I'll uncomfortably call EDM, bridging contemporary club vibes with Idle No More and advancing electronic music likely even further than anyone can see right now. They'll be joined by teenaged Nunavut throat singer/beat boxer Nelson Tagoona (whoah). Basically this is X Avant's can't miss show, and it will also be the hardest to get in to, so get your act together now. Note: this event takes place at BLK BOX. Note also: you're going to dance. Saturday, October 19, doors 9PM, concert 10pm, $20 advance
All of this just got you wanting more? Also performing during X Avant are Ensemble Supermusique on October 18th and Gurpreet Chana and Alaniaris featuring Scott Good on October 20th. Dig the full line up here.
Festival passes run for a cool $100, and individual shows start at $10 advance and up.
Photo by Jesse Locke