Live Review: Gelax | Piers Oolvai | seawater + rose | standpartners @ ANAF - 05/18/2019 (Guelph, ON)
Updated: Sep 3, 2019
L-R: Piers Oolvai, seawater + rose, standpartners, Gelax
This happened... this really actually happened! I made this musical event materialize, and it was both a personal and overall success! This will be more of a short reflection than a traditional concert review, as I only have beyond great words on everything involved this night. The First Expedition... oh boi!
If you told me that I would have the confidence, support, courage, drive and perseverance to book and host a concert AND perform on stage to a crowd by myself with works of my own crafting before this year, I would have thought you were insane. Well, it seems that publicly embracing my queer sexuality was the turning switch that really empowered me. It gave me strength to tackle and accomplish so many grand designs, and the headspace to just stop pondering about what people might/will negatively think of me. From hearing from family and friends leading up to, during and after the show, I do not know why I ever doubted my abilities and thought otherwise of those who really mattered. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
Everything that I have done and people I have meet, both short to long-term, have helped make this inaugural live concert curation of The Sentinel's Marvellous Kaleidoscope. CFRU 93.3 FM, from which the SMK's radio program counterpart was born and housed to this day, is paramount. I took my skills as a radio host and transplanted them into being a live concert host (see photo proof below)! It's kind of the same thing, talking into a microphone, except that I was talking in front of actual living human_people in front of me. CFRU has helped me connect to the Guelph music community and the city at large. Unfortunate to say, I have never felt that connection with my hometown of Mississauga (but maybe that can change in the future). The radio station helped me connect with local and out-of-town bands, festivals and a remarkable group of caring friends, many of whom helped me out at the concert. I can not thank CFRU enough for what they have taught and given me over the past couple of years, when I was at my most lost of purpose.
Wow! Some heart strings pulled there... Let's get back on track! Through CFRU, I was able to attend and volunteer at my first festivals, Kazoo! Fest, Hillside Festival and the Guelph Film Festival. They certainly helped me certainly know what it takes to run and promote local media events, both audio and visual. Big shout out to Kazoo!, as they allowed me to borrow their PA system for this SMK concert curation.
Aside from running a concert in the moment, there is actually booking a venue and a musical lineup, and organizing it all and being a good receptive communicator. I have always been an organized individual... once I knew what the phuck I was doing, and I never knew how to do these things, until I met Jesse Alarcon (left). A master DIY concert booker and supporter of the local independent music community, Jesse has been there to mentor and help me through these processes, and also did sound tech for the evening. He is a precious jewel, a superior support, a wonderful friend, a darling boyo! Thank you for taking me under your wings (ie. dreadlocks in this case hehe) during this process XOXO
The ANAF Club 344 in downtown Guelph is a legion building that the general public is able to rent out at a reasonable price. My first-ever event booking mistake was to book during the long weekend. HOWEVER, despite the risk of having 0 attendees, we had a paid turn out of 15 attendees, which I have been informed is ACTUALLY pretty good. That is a relief to hear (but I will be more mindful of holidays next time)! In addition, ANAF does not possess proper music sound equipment. A challenge that I was able to solve with borrowing Kazoo!'s PA system, having Jesse do sound for me, personally renting equipment from Long & McQuade (with a gift card from Christmas), plus collaborating with the artists themselves to see what equipment they can bring in and share. It all worked perfectly in the end.
The Sentinel's Marvellous Kaleidoscope has and will always be an eclectic entity. Just like in its logo, its lens will morph and change to gaze upon a vast variety of musical styles of progressive, fusion and alternative music, near and far. I could not have asked for a more perfect exceptional premiere lineup for the concert curation!
Opening the entire showcase was Splendid Industries' new family member, Piers Oolvai (ie: me)! Due to complications, and support being sent my way from listeners of my SoundCloud music, it became quite apparent and necessary that I would pick up the gauntlets, dawn my cape, descend from my observational tower and take the stage myself. I had the means to perform live with my effected bass clarinet technically and computationally. Thus I showed the universe what powers I had possessed! Right now, my Piers Oolvai works of post-progressive ambient music are minimalistic and soundscape-driven, based on improvisations that I have slowly structured, and based on set effect pedal settings. However, each rendition of these works are always different each time they are performed. You can thank the Contemporary Music Ensemble (CME) at the University of Guelph, lead by Guelph accordion/hurdy-gurdy player Ben Grossman, for my improvisation skills, and Duke Gray of Toronto prog band OddsFiche and Steven de Taeye aka Guelph ambient musician / big brother Hymns57 for allowing me to acquire my pedal chain that I used at the show. I was not as nervous while playing as I thought I was going to be. Regardless, I was sweating like crazy, and had to remove my heavy cape halfway through. I played my 3 main Improvisations of beautiful, pulverizing, charming and nasty intonations (No. 1 - Keyclicks - No. 3 Bubble Chain Reaction - No. 2 Pulsations) and ended with a mighty looped cover of Brian Eno's "An Ending (Ascent)". Everyone had only goodness to pass on to me during and after my set. It was a brave display of my abilities right now, and it sounds like my abilities are great right now!
standparters followed my weird bizarre display with their own bizarre display, being new entries of Splendid Industries family as well. Finally being able to watch them in the open rather than between panes of glass when they came into CFRU for my SMK radio program's An Audience in the Observational Tower live streamed interview/performance was so refreshing. Isaiah on cello and Charity on violin took weirdness to a new level for the whole evening with their intriguing zombie baby masks (I hope they don't get overheated in those) and their chambercore dream jazz musings and post-contemporary world-infused variety. A continuous flow through pieces, they started with the graceful turned distorted ambiance of 'Our House', into 'A(r)ray', my favourite work of their's for its interactive development and variation of its principle bass ostinato over an automated percussion, and finishing with 'Salita', prominently featuring a Philipino-sung rap by Charity. standpartners takes you on a perplexing sonic current down rapids and streams for an unforgettable journey of unpredictable musical entanglements that you'll love to witness.
Over the past few months, I have been embracing the punk aesthetic more and more. It will always be a treat to find punk acts that stand out with unique characteristics: Guelph female punk duo seawater + rose fit that uniqueness. Being the only band that I had not seen live, I only had their Demos - Vol. 1 album on SoundCloud to hear their music (I listened to it the day after it was posted). I was impressed by their powerful instrumental interplay and wicked vocal duality between bassist Dani and drummer Olexa. And that great impression carried over into their intense performance, with more sustained raw energy and intricate vibrations than the demo recordings led on. I relished in their heated moments of controlled insanity and their smooth wide range and transitions of drum-bass textures within songs. There was so much they are about to do as a two-piece! seawater + rose ended their set with my favourite song of theirs, "low expectations", and as sung in the lyrics, they got me "wrapped around your finger."
Ending the evening of amazements was Toronto fantasy indie rock quartet Gelax! I am so glad to have been able to bring them out for their first Guelph performance! Their music sends you through dreamland and up into the cosmos. They will be going places with their magical songcraft and instrumental fabrics. Passion and dedication was clearly seen in their performance. Interconnecting Gelax, Key's majestic singing, Taarqaz's sensual guitar patterns, Olaf Szester's array of timbral percussion tools and Jason Pilling's mild throbbing grooves. Song highlights include the quirky yet conceptual anthem "Life", the tantalizing "Crawler", the wacky waving grand "Crazy Arms" and what I believe is their most progressive rock-styled song "E.B.E.", which makes you spiral out of your mind in a sonic vortex... but enjoy every moment of it!
Thank you to all the musicians who played in my first concert curation, for taking the risk in participating and for your great understanding, support, cooperation and kind words!
My volunteer friends were just as important in making this first SMK concert curation run smoothly, dedicating their own time and energy freely to help me with such a huge endeavor. I want to thank T and LP for being the gate keepers, taking charge of door admission and merchandise (the latter included special CFRU fundraiser items, with proceeds being donated to the station). I also am grateful for T taking photos with my DSLR camera during my hosting and performing sessions (I unfortunately don't have the super ability to take photos of myself while multi-tasking). I also want to thank who I consider the true overseer of the evening, Jon, my guardian angel, my papa (he probably wont like that last one, but its stuck now!), for helping me with transportation of equipment, helping Jesse and I with set up and tear down, going out to get me food, allowing me to stay overnight at his place afterwards, and just being in the background as a watchful observer... just in case something had went disastrous.
I honestly can not thank and send love to everyone who was there enough for making this night monumental, and showing that I have more skills, resources, abilities, and confidence in myself than I thought I had!
Finally, I can't forget to thank Splendid Industries for supporting weird musical talent and events across Southern Ontario, helping us like-minded souls communicate and come together, and to spread the word of our gatherings with this central platform and across other platforms. Gradually, I see the start of something beautiful!
Till next we behold, look inward and beyond out on the ever-changing horizon...
NOTE: If you were not present for the concert, I was able to record it all via portable recorder, which I will produce into a future SMK radio program broadcast! Stay tuned, my good sentries!
Photos of Piers Oolvai / Nicholas Cooper / Jesse Alarcon shots by Theresa Kat
Photos of standpartners / seawater + rose / Gelax shots by Scope Overseer Photogenics
All photos edited by Scope Overseer Photogenics