Newness – and noise – were fully embraced at Muchmore’s. It was a night made up of the kind of creativity that is open and unafraid, encouraging sonic exploration and welcoming new musical territories.
In a compelling drone set, Evan Miller saturated the space with the hypnotic sound of a clock repeatedly striking the hour. The ambiance beckoned the question: was this repetition bringing about doomsday or was it a continuously appreciated arrival? The different noises created – from clock strikes to cymbal crashes to vocal simulations – built upon each other, crescendoing to a fever pitch that filled the room to the brim. Particularly mesmerizing was the rhythmic buildup underlying the performance: not only did sound layer and loop and compound, increasing speed gave the noise space to move forward rather than stagnate.
The theme of the evening was noise: noise that crashes, noise that hums, noise that’s dissonant, noise that overwhelms. Hearing each performance was experiencing a new sonic possibility, as each used different techniques and instruments to showcase a variety of sonic landscapes.
Mediaqueer, featuring Darian Thomas on violin and Phong Tran on synthesizers, used noise to both explicitly express emotion and shed light on current issues. Exuberant violin playing – from fast, rolled chords to lush, melodic interludes – was fed through electronics and manipulated to make all sorts of new sounds. The result was a loud, sometimes overwhelming, yet always vivid, wash of harmony.
The closing piece of Mediaqueer’s set centered on racism and hate found on gay dating apps. Pure sound illuminated the overt violence of the phrases some users have written in the descriptions of their dating profiles. Tran screamed these abhorrent quotes – racial, emotional, and sexual requirements of potential matches – through the microphone as crashing sound raged in the background. The audience stood motionless when the music began to fade away. But then Thomas and Tran lightened the mood, continuing to positively interact with them, even if this deeply contrasted with the atmosphere of the music. Unity was a driving force, too.
Every moment wasn’t perfect – but that wasn’t the point. A tangible camaraderie existed in the room as equipment inevitably went awry. This was particularly noticeable during a brief moment of Andrew Yoon’s live painting and sound performance, where audio failed to emanate from the speakers but the audience encouraged the set to go on with welcoming cheers. And the show continued just fine. The night wasn’t about “failure” nor “perfection.” It was about the willingness to try.