Monday, October 27, 2008
I caught Friday night's installment of the Dean & Britta "13 Most Beautiful ..." performance, which I previewed a couple weeks ago in the pages of this esteemed weekly; for those of you who missed the boat, it was a two-night stand in which Dean & Britta (they of Luna, he of Galaxie 500) performed 13 songs (most originals, two covers) along with 13 of Andy Warhol's "screen test" short films.
I expected it to be a good performance, but of course I was slightly skeptical -- there are enough things that could go wrong in a situation like this. The songs could distract from the films, the films could distract from the songs, the whole thing could be a snoozefest. I was pleasantly surprised, though: the whole thing worked, and it worked well.
I take some issue with the venerable Barry Paris's review of the event over in P-G land; most of the background he gives is regurgitated press material, some of which he seemingly either doesn't understand himself or doesn't contextualize sufficiently (yes, the folks from the Warhol did slow down the films, but only because that's how Warhol himself chose to view and show them). And his position that the music "could have been a bit edgier for the occasion" but "the audio is frankly secondary" is completely off the mark -- the music was the point of this performance, and if you simply wanted to watch Warhol screen tests you could saunter down to the Warhol any day of the week; his Factory Diaries are on an interminable loop there. But, he's a film critic, and they sent him to review the event, so what can we expect?
Dean & Britta's pieces were, in nearly every case, executed exceedingly well, and explored aspects of the films as presented -- they didn't write stories so much as create and maintain moods, and expand upon impressions made by the films. There were parts of the guitar solos that clearly responded to the characters in the films, giving them a voice. There were blips in the films that reverberated through the music. In only one case did the music appear slightly off from the visuals -- at the end of one screen test, when the song ended early and there were five seconds or so of awkward silence.
If you missed the performance this weekend (and judging from the relatively meager Friday night turnout it's very possible you did), you missed your chance in Pittsburgh. They take it on the road later, the closest performance being at the Wexner Center in Columbus.