Advant Garde: Just Say No

Last night was one of the weirdest most tedious nights of my life.  My father got tickets through work for a concert at the Park Avenue Armory. It was the most beautiful building I have ever been in, in my life. I should have brought a camera. But not even a camera could capture every intricate detail of the Tiffany stained glass and chandeliers and all of the wood carvings in the ceilings and on the walls.

Anyway, onto the horror of the night. So my dad got the tickets because the armory rented some pianos. My father figured the concert would be modern but pretty normal because it had pianos in it. How wrong he was.

We saw powerLESS, a part of the Tune-in Music Festival.  The first piece, “in vain” had a title that fit the piece. It was literally in fucking vain. There was a harp in that piece. And the harp made horrible dissonant noise. Believe me when I say it’s pretty hard to make a harp sound awful, but this piece managed to do it. There was no beat, no melody, constant tension and no resolution at all. At two points during the show the lights were shut off leaving us and the musicians in total darkness. The first time it hurt my eyes because they kept trying to see… in vain *eyeroll* The second time it didn’t hurt my eyes, but then they started using a strobe light in split second flashes to bring more pain to my eyes. The darkness bits were each about 10-15 minutes long, with the whole piece being at least an hour. Then it ended. I was so happy that damn noise was over. But to my surprise, the audience was cheering as if they *loved* it…. like they wanted a damn encore. I even overheard someone say, “they need more of this at Carnegie Hall” The only thing that would have been better about hearing that in Carnegie Hall is having more comfortable chairs to fall asleep in >.>

There were also some people that left over that. My dad over heard someone say “can you believe that they would leave now?!”  … I can, why couldn’t they?

There was an intermission and the next piece was going to be a “vocalist.” After the first performance I had a strong feeling the second was not going to involving singing. And I was right. The next piece was some average looking normal guy sitting in a chair speaking gibberish for half an hour. In retrospect it’s hilarious, but while watching it at times it was agonizing. And when he was finished, once again, the audience went wild. I mean I found it interesting but didn’t get it…

After that we left. It was getting kind of late and we had a feeling of what the rest of the show would be like. I may have been able to stand it if it was during the afternoon, but totally not a Friday night. On a Friday night I want a show that will get me worked up for the weekend, or a show that I can relax while watching and unwind. No avant garde. NEVER AGAIN!

Anyway, on the ride home my father and I were discussing where the hell the audience came from. His theory is that they were classical music burnouts. From very young ages they were raised on classical music and had it in their lives constantly, then they burned out and started seeking… well whatever it was we heard last night.

In the end, the Armory is beautiful and I really want to go back there to see more of it and avant garde is stupid.

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8 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Scott Pool said,

    That sounded pretty strange, but yeah definitely an all hipster gathering, at least the people who were clapping. They probably saw some deep meaning in it, but deep meaning can be seen in anything if you squint hard enough XP

    • 2

      improperintegirl said,

      the weird thing is it was more 40-something people than young hipsters. i do want to take you to the armory though because its so prettyful!

  2. 3

    Miss Frotrap said,

    Some avant garde music and its derivatives can be good. Some of Yoko Ono’s stuff is alright, as are John Cage’s works. Sonic Youth is also very much influenced by dissonance, and does it beautifully. As anything, there is a method and an art to avant garde music.

    • 4

      improperintegirl said,

      I can’t say I’ve heard any of their music, I’ll have to check them out. I suppose I can make a better judgment after listening to them. But that concert was awful.. it was like the composers purposely wanted to make a statement by breaking every rule of common sense >.<

  3. 5

    Sounds a bit odd what you experienced, but I think the category of avant garde can be really interesting. I’ve seen it in the context of fashion, and they can really make amazing and outrageous show stopping pieces (although they would never function in regular everyday life haha.)

    • 6

      improperintegirl said,

      I’ve also seen it done in fashion.. but then it’s more interesting art. Yes the clothes aren’t practical at all but they’re fun to look at. It’s about breaking the rules… sometimes breaking the rules can be fun (in the case of fashion) but not in the case of music… just no >.<

  4. 7

    It’s terrible that they put the harp to shame – they always incorporate the instrument at my church, so whenever I think of harp music I immediately think of pretty melodies. 😄 I’m not too familiar with the avant garde genre, though I have attended many modern “noise” concerts at my school. If they’re similar, then I can definitely empathize with your experience!

    • 8

      improperintegirl said,

      It’s not just that they put the harp to shame, but the fact that you have to work very hard to make that happen. Even dissonance and missed notes can sound nice on a harp. It was specifically what the composer wrote and the harpists technique that made it sound bad.
      I can only imagine what those “noise” concerts are like.. but at least they’re honest and call them “noise” 😄


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