09:34 AM, Feb 02, 2011
FULL REVIEW with tons of PHOTOS at:
I had heard of Nels Cline like many people… via Wilco. I had even seen Wilco at some point on the A Ghost is Born tour (Taft Theatre, Cincinnati, 2000-and-something). While I dig Wilco enough, more adventurous music is where it’s at for me nowadays. I had heard of Nels and knew of his free jazz group, but I had only actually heard a little bit of his music – which gets me to my interest even being piqued in this show… enter Yuka C. Honda.
I dig Yuka’s Japanese/American sugar-pop of Cibo Matto (with fellow Japanese ex-pat Miho Hatori), but I also dig her experimental acoustic-electronic albums on Tzadik. My love of Yuka’s solo work led to her Portland tour date popping up on my radar…and I saw “oh, and with Nels Cline, I’ve heard some of his stuff.”
Boy, was I in for a surprise.
I found out about a week before the show that Yuka was actually playing with the Nels Cline Singers (the next generation of his NC Trio). I found out later that they’re married ; so the joint tour totally made sense to me now.
Then I found out that one of my favorite bassists, Trevor Dunn, was playing in the group for this short West Coast tour. Trevor played/plays with Mr. Bungle, Fantomas, Moonchild, Trio Convulsant, Electric Masada, et-fucking-cetera (tons upon tons of groups).
Then I found out that Scott Amendola was drumming with them… he’s the drummer for Mike Patton‘s fantastic Mondo Cane big-band. Then, after seeing the Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger* on Friday 1/28 in Portland, I thought… “hey, GOASTT is wrapping up their tour in Seattle on the 29th, and Nels Cline is starting their tour on the 29th in Seattle. Sean Lennon (of GOASTT) & Yuka used to be together as a couple and still work in bands together, Sean & Nels are on the same label, I bet something’s up.“ Well, yeah, something was up…
*GOASTT is Sean Lennon & Charlotte Kemp Muhl‘s band (to the R of Nels).
As evidenced above, Sean & Charlotte watched from side of the stage during the first set, until Sean disappeared only to come up on stage to tambourine with the group for the last song in the first set.
So, now that my mind was thoroughly blown with all of the players on stage – let’s get on with the music.
Despite the “Singers” namesake, it’s an instrumental band. Actually, it’s an instrumental force with which to reckon. The first set started off with just the trio of Nels’ guitars and the battery of Trevor & Scott. The first song “Forge” swooned and swelled before crashing down on our ears.
The group seemed to me to be a great mix of what I love about both free jazz and post-rock. You don’t know what to expect, and you don’t want to know what to expect. The wave-like rise and fall is part of the enjoyment. If the wave doesn’t take you to where you wanted to go, well, you have to give in… it’s not your wave to control.
After the first few songs, Yuka came on and joined them on keyboards and percussion. I think she evened out the sound a bit… less chaotic, but still adventurous.
1st Set: 60-70 minutes
A Mug Like Mine
B86 (Inkblot Nebula)
Thoughts on Caetano [with Sean Lennon]
Brilliant wall of sound and magic coming from the Singers. Alas, I had to call it a night. They took about a 30-40 minute break before I threw in the towel (around 11pm). They were going to come back on and do a 2nd full set. Sunday night, long drive ahead of me… I headed back to Eugene. I sooo very much wanted to stick around for the second set. The cards were stacked against me; so I scurried to my car and hit the road… if any readers caught the second set – how was it? what did they play?
Lee & Superior Roads
Cleveland Heights, OH
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AP Photo / Luis Hidalgo
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