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“Drone, not Drones”: Behind the Slogan that Capped Low’s Infamous 27-Minute Set

Arguably the most buzzworthy moment of Rock the Garden this year — competing with Dan Deacon’s parking ramp rave and a homecoming set by native son (of sorts) Bob Mould — was a controversy-stirring performance by Low. Instead of giving an audio tour of its latest release, The Invisible Way (Sub Pop), the Duluth indie […]

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Arguably the most buzzworthy moment of Rock the Garden this year — competing with Dan Deacon’s parking ramp rave and a homecoming set by native son (of sorts) Bob Mould — was a controversy-stirring performance by Low. Instead of giving an audio tour of its latest release, The Invisible Way (Sub Pop), the Duluth indie trio filled its entire 27-minute set with one song, expanding the 14-minute 1996 tune “Do You Know How to Waltz?” by nearly double. As if by way of explanation, Low front man Alan Sparhawk concluded the set with three now-infamous words: “Drone, not drones.” Asked about it later that night, he told journalist Chris Riemenschneider, simply, “I got it off a friend’s bumper-sticker, and thought it was fitting.” Now that the dust has settled, we got in touch with that friend — Minneapolis’ Luke Heiken — to hear more.

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A fixture in the Twin Cities music scene for years, Heiken ran ScheduleTwo.com, a site (and record label) that up until mid-2008 livestreamed concerts from local music venues. One day in February, Heiken was playing around with an industrial sticker maker and came up with a phrase he liked: “Drone, not drones.” That same night, Sparhawk tweeted, “Mim sez these drones are bullshit. That’s all I gotta know. #potus” — presumably a response to news of a leaked white paper on the Obama administration’s justification for “targeted killings” using unmanned aerial vehicles. Heiken tweeted back, sharing his slogan and, the next day, an image of his sticker. He liked the phrase so much he bought the URL dronenotdrones.com and hatched a plan to do something with it — a benefit show or compilation album to raise funds for groups working to help the innocent victims of the war on terror. On June 12, he tweeted to Low, asking if the band might be interested in such a project.

Fastforward three days, when Sparhawk on stage “dropped that #TruthBomb on #rockthegarden,” as Heiken put it on Twitter. He wasn’t in the crowd, but Sparhawk’s words — which he later credited to Heiken — prompted action: “I really need to get on it now that Al has forced my hand by tipping it.”

“I was inspired by people caring about the message and wanted to strike while the iron was hot, so knowing releasing music would take a while to put together, I made the t-shirts,” he says. Proceeds from the shirts, as well as the compilation and benefit concert he’s hoping to pull off, will go to either Doctors Without Borders or the Red Crescent, or both. With bands and labels approaching him, he’s making good progress towards his dreamed-of Drone Not Drones recording, which, like the benefit show, he hopes to see released this winter. He’s hoping it’ll be released on vinyl, but acknowledges it may have to be a digital release instead. He’s already confirmed the participation of Twin Cities artists Take Acre, Paul Metzger, and Peace Drone (a side project by members of Flavor Crystals and Magic Castles), German musician/sound artist Stephan Mathieu, and Sparkhawk himself, and he hopes to have more confirmed bands to announce soon.

While Heiken’s stance on drones is nuanced — his personal view isn’t as bumpersticker-ready as the slogan on his t-shirts — his take on the mini-controversy over Low’s Rock the Garden set isn’t.

“I’m told [drones] are important to track down terrorists and to keep me and my family safe,” he says. “But there is a line crossed when we fly these things into sovereign nations and use explosives to kill people, without a trial, who are believed to be present and write off the loss of life and limb for any people caught in the blast.” He takes issue with the lack of clear governance of drone use. While manned flights are heavily regulated, he says it’s the “wild west” where drones are concerned.

Low's Alan Sparhawk at Rock the Garden 2013. Photo: Amy Fox

Low’s Alan Sparhawk at Rock the Garden 2013. Photo: Amy Fox

He calls the flap over Low’s droning set, however, purely “ridiculous.”

“If I got on the Internet every time I saw a band I was bored by,” he says of the online furor, before trailing off. “This shouldn’t be a tragedy. People creating Twitter accounts for it? I’ve never seen people dislike a set so much they’d go out of their way to do that.”

Heiken has seen Low perform “Do You Know How to Waltz?” before. “It’s one of my favorite musical memories: sitting with my now-wife under a blanket in the dark listening to that song. It’s ridiculous that so many are complaining about that at a modern art museum. Even without that, if Low played their normal set, the squares would’ve been turned off. Nothing they could’ve done would’ve made people who where there for Metric or Dan Deacon happy. But it made lots of Low fans happy.”

St. Vincent: Much Buzz

Yesterday St. Vincent had a show on the rooftop of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the first musician to ever play there. You can see her in a little over a month here at the Walker, when she plays two back to back shows in the McGuire Theater on October 2—7 pm and 10 pm. […]

Yesterday St. Vincent had a show on the rooftop of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the first musician to ever play there. You can see her in a little over a month here at the Walker, when she plays two back to back shows in the McGuire Theater on October 2—7 pm and 10 pm. This Walker show will kick off her fall tour, where she will play behind her new album Strange Mercy (out September 13).

The first video for a track off her new album just premiered. The song is called “Cruel” and you can watch it here:

The new album’s first single, “Surgeon” is a real doozy. Pitchfork recently called it a “powerful and cerebral comeback” and named it one of their Best New Tracks, read the review and listen here.

This video for “Laughing with a Mouthful of Blood” (off her last album Actor) is my personal fave and features two of the Portlandia folks, Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, back when they were ThunderAnt.

Workshop and Open Rehearsal with Miguel Gutierrez

                          Miguel Gutierrez and the Powerful People (his company) are in town. At their free open rehearsal and Q&A next week, Thursday, August 4, at 8 pm, not only will Miguel Gutierrez be performing, but he will be joined in performance by, notably, […]

Miguel Gutierrez (far left) during a 2008 rehearsal at Walker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miguel Gutierrez and the Powerful People (his company) are in town. At their free open rehearsal and Q&A next week, Thursday, August 4, at 8 pm, not only will Miguel Gutierrez be performing, but he will be joined in performance by, notably, Ishmael Houston-Jones and K.J. Holmes, as well as Michelle Boulé, Hillary Clark, and Luke George. Houston-Jones is a Bessie-award winning performer, author, teacher, and arts consultant whose choreographic work includes multiple collaborations with iconic queer novelist Dennis Cooper, and K.J. Holmes is adjunct faculty at NYU’s Experimental Theater Wing whilst exploring simultaneous projects as an independent dancer, singer, poet and body worker. This is a cross-generational choreographic project jam-packed with talented people, and there isn’t even room here to expound on the dazzling resumés of Michelle Boulé, Hillary Clark, and Luke George.

Miguel Gutierrez himself is known primarily for his work as a choreographer and dancer, but he also has investigated a “choreography of the human voice” and recently wrote a book of poems/”Performance Texts” that Eileen Myles thinks is great.

Rather than overshadow this blog with the amazing accomplishments of all the Gutierrez Powerful People, let me say that Miguel Gutierrez’s work is explosive, sexy, spontaneous, and subversive. His recent piece Last Meadow  “mixed movement and words from James Dean’s three movies to look at the myth of America the father, and confusion as a potentially transformative, sensory-enlivened state.”

If you are a mover of any kind, Miguel is leading a workshop this Saturday! And for everyone: the open rehearsal and Q&A is next Thursday. Otherwise you’ll have to wait until Fall 2012 to catch Miguel Gutierrez and the Powerful People here when they debut And lose the name of action.

My Morning Jacket + Todd Haynes + Erykah Badu

Rock the Garden 2011 headliners My Morning Jacket performed last night at the Louisville Palace Theater and were joined onstage by Erykah Badu. The concert was live webcast via American Express’ “Unstaged” series, with Todd Haynes (recently at the Walker for the premiere of Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff) filming. If you missed the live broadcast, […]

Rock the Garden 2011 headliners My Morning Jacket performed last night at the Louisville Palace Theater and were joined onstage by Erykah Badu. The concert was live webcast via American Express’ “Unstaged” series, with Todd Haynes (recently at the Walker for the premiere of Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff) filming.

If you missed the live broadcast, MMJ’s VEVO has some high-quality videos of the performances. Below is MMJ and Erykah Badu performing the MMJ track “Wordless Chorus”- Pitchfork has the full story.

Visionaries, iconoclasts, shapeshifters: announcing a bold new performing arts season

We have all been working very hard on putting together our next performing arts season for 2011/12, and are thrilled to share the details with you! This season features five premieres, six walker commissions, fresh global performance, and a  celebration of Merce Cunningham, as well as three mini-festivals: New Voices from the Congo, The Music of Vijay […]

We have all been working very hard on putting together our next performing arts season for 2011/12, and are thrilled to share the details with you!

This season features five premieres, six walker commissions, fresh global performance, and a  celebration of Merce Cunningham, as well as three mini-festivals: New Voices from the Congo, The Music of Vijay Iyer, and our annual Out There festival of alternative performance. See the full season listed here.

Highlights from performing arts curator Philip Bither:

“More than ever, the coming season reflects our commitment to support the freshest, most timely works and ideas by commissioning boundary-pushing artists—from large-scale visions by master innovators such as choreographer Bill T. Jones (in his own kind of tribute to Cunningham/Cage) to dynamic new creations by mid-career artists Big Dance Theater, Young Jean Lee, and Marc Bamuthi Joseph, and including voices new to Minnesota and the Walker such as Rabih Mroué and Brooklyn indie folk heroes the Lisps. Fierce visionaries, iconoclasts, shapeshifters—the transnational and hyper-connected artists of the Walker’s 2011–2012 performing arts season boldly take us into the future.”

Want more in-depth, insider info?

We kick off our season this September with the annual insider preview: join Philip Bither in the McGuire Theater to hear about the details of each show, why it was selected, what you can expect, history on the artists, and behind-the-scenes info from the makers themselves. Afterward we chat in the Balcony Bar over a drink and share our enthusiasm for the upcoming projects. Good Times!

Click here to browse the full lineup on the Walker calendar.

Look for the full season brochure in July. Tickets for the 2011-2012 season go on sale July 19.

Puppet Cinema is free. Open all day Saturday and Th-F-Sa nights

                          What is this key? Come to Puppet Cinema for Puppets this Saturday during gallery hours (11 AM-5 PM) to find out who’s who in Twin Cities puppets. The installation is also open one hour prior to all performances of The Devil and […]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is this key? Come to Puppet Cinema for Puppets this Saturday during gallery hours (11 AM-5 PM) to find out who’s who in Twin Cities puppets. The installation is also open one hour prior to all performances of The Devil and Mister Punch (a Work-in-Progress) (tonight through Saturday).

Over 120 puppets made by over a dozen puppeteers have been installed in the McGuire Theater.  Watch a short film with the puppets or take advantage of the designated photo ops. When’s the next time you’ll get to watch a movie with a theater full of puppets?

Bedlam Theatre Director John Bueche explains how Puppet Cinema came to be:

All year the Walker’s been doing the Adventures in New Puppetry series. They approached Bedlam way back-a-when about co-presenting the final installment in the series: Improbable‘s Punch show. At first the answer was pretty straightforward – have it at BEDLAM – that would automatically wild it up, set the social tone for the art and the audience.

It was all set, but shazbang, then Bedlam goes and closes its venue last fall. The Walker said, hell, we STILL want you involved, wild it up, set a social tone OVER HERE.

The Devil and Mr. Punch it was felt, for numerous reasons, would be well served by a more intimate audience, to get you closer to the action, keep it tight. This drove the idea to seat the audience on the McGuire stage up close with the Mr Punch show. That left the CHAIRS in the McGuire empty. That’s a lot of space.

I started thinking about what a fantastic adventure it is to walk through the attic at Heart of the Beast, the basement at Open Eye, Mark Safford‘s living room or the garage of just about anyone from Barebones. And thinking about those empty seats. Julian C said, “hey, we’ve been groovin’ on the idea of puppets watching movies, you know, like, what KINDS of movies do puppets like to watch?”

[CLICK  HERE for a video PREVIEW of Puppet Cinema for Puppets with John Bueche]

It took an all star puppet crew to pull the install together. Alison Heimstead, currently heading up the Puppet Lab at HOBT, did the amazing work of inviting, curating, prodding, building the plan and envisioning the mix. Fellow Barebones co-Founders Julian McFaul and Mark Safford, with Chris Lutter of Puppet Farm and truly astounding puppet wrangler Duane Tougas rounded out the install team (along with Andrew Wagner and Kyle Waite from the Walker side.)

Next week, you’ll have to go back to enjoying puppets on stage or seeking out the storage and stashes in separate studios all over town. For now, enjoy Puppet Cinema for Puppets and celebrate the vast talent of the TC puppet scene.

 

Have you ever wondered what movies puppets like to watch?

We did too! So we asked Bedlam Theatre and more than a dozen local puppeteers to come hang out in the McGuire and create a wild puppet world populated by 150 of the Twin Cities’ weirdest, most arresting puppets, large and small. They’re all sitting in the theater (or hanging from the ceiling) and watching a mash-up of their […]

We did too!

So we asked Bedlam Theatre and more than a dozen local puppeteers to come hang out in the McGuire and create a wild puppet world populated by 150 of the Twin Cities’ weirdest, most arresting puppets, large and small. They’re all sitting in the theater (or hanging from the ceiling) and watching a mash-up of their favorite puppet films, created by filmmaker Ragnar Freidank, a collaborator of Julian Crouch from the UK troupe Improbable.

We are calling it – Puppet Cinema for Puppets – An Unlikely Installation, and it’s presented in association with Improbable’s The Devil and Mister Punch, May 19-21.

Join us at two free open house events, where more than a dozen featured local puppet creators will be on hand to meet and talk all manner of puppet subjects.

When:

Thursday Evening May 19,  7-8pm

Saturday Afternoon May 21, 11am-5pm

Open prior to all the Devil and Mister Punch performances and for one full special day on Saturday May 21, 2011 during gallery hours (11am – 5pm).

Copresented with Bedlam Theatre and the National Performance Network (NPN).

Attend to Devotion

Jesus, Mary, Adam, and Eve are all characters in Sarah Michelson/Richard Maxwell’s cult of Devotion, opening February 17 in the McGuire Theater. Richard Maxwell wrote the text  for this “narrative ballet” and then Sarah Michelson took over. Canonical figures of modern dance peek through: Twyla Tharp (with Philip Glass’ music from her In the Upper […]

Jesus, Mary, Adam, and Eve are all characters in Sarah Michelson/Richard Maxwell’s cult of Devotion, opening February 17 in the McGuire Theater. Richard Maxwell wrote the text  for this “narrative ballet” and then Sarah Michelson took over. Canonical figures of modern dance peek through: Twyla Tharp (with Philip Glass’ music from her In the Upper Room joining the original score), Merce Cunningham; “and what gloriously severe dancing it is,” said the New York Times. The ambitious athleticism of the dancing has kept more than one reviewer in suspense; there is much at stake in this choreography, like the most difficult of figure skating jumps. Devotion‘s text, narrated in New York by Sarah Michelson, like William Blake evokes both the tone of a scripture and a pointed vulnerability.

Let’s pause here to mention that the two-week run of Devotion at the Kitchen last month was severely sold-out, with lines around the block steadily growing as buzz spread. Visual artists, curators, composers, gallery owners, critics, and downtown theater innovators were all there, mixing together as rarely happens in NYC,  to witness this coming together of two of the most iconoclastic purveyors of  contemporary dance and theater right now.

Let’s pause here also to state that while each Walker dance performance this season is unique in its own way, Sarah Michelson’s Devotion is the piece to see if you are most interested in what’s happening (and what’s happened) in the New York downtown dance scene. In other words, it’s more than fair to call this cutting-edge work (see again the art21 blog where artist Marissa Perel said that Michelson “pretty much defined what is cool. Period” ?)  not only for dance, but in theater; par exemple, Jim Fletcher, Devotion‘s Adam, is also the star of (Walker-commissioned in 2006) Gatz, which finally made it to NYC last year and which the New York Times said was “The most remarkable achievement in theater not only of this year but also of this decade (which, gee, means this century too).”

Devotion will surely be one of the most remarkable achievements in dance this year. Sarah Michelson! We missed you so.

Devotion has been favorably reviewed by:

the Village Voice

the New York Times

the Financial Times

Dance Magazine

 

What are Kronos Quartet playing this weekend?

Here’s the rumored song list for this weekend, which is open to change. All of these songs were either written or arranged for the Kronos Quartet. Just an FYI, this is a set list; these artists will not be performing with Kronos Quartet. FRIDAY night: Derek Charke – Cercle du Nord III   Ram Narayan […]

Here’s the rumored song list for this weekend, which is open to change. All of these songs were either written or arranged for the Kronos Quartet. Just an FYI, this is a set list; these artists will not be performing with Kronos Quartet.

FRIDAY night:

Derek Charke - Cercle du Nord III

 

Ram Narayan (arr. Kronos, transc. Ljova) – Raga Mishra Bhairavi: Alap

 

Unknown (arr. Ljova & Kronos) – Oh Mother, the Handsome Man Tortures Me

 

Sahba Aminikia – String Quartet no. 3: A Threnody for Those Who Remain   (hear the composer speak about the creation of this work)

 

Franghiz Ali-Zadeh – Oasis

Terry Riley - The Ecstasy from Salome Dances for Peace

 

Ramallah Underground (arr. Jacob Garchik) – Tashweesh

 

Aleksandra Vrebalov -…hold me, neighbor, in this storm…


SATURDAY night:

Bryce Dessner (of the National) - Aheym (Homeward)

Missy Mazzoli – Harp and Altar

Damon Albarn (of the Gorillaz) - Untitled

Amon Tobin (arr. Stephen Prutsman and Michael Winger) – Bloodstone

JG Thirlwell (of Foetus) - Eremikophobia  (hear Thirlwell speak about this new composition here)

Aviya Kopelman – Widows & Lovers

I. White Widow

II. Lovers

III. Black Widow

Laurie Anderson (arr. Jacob Garchik) - Flow

Maria Schneider - String Quartet No. 1: Third Movement

Michael Gordon (of Bang On A Can) - Clouded Yellow

6 Days Left to Catch Eiko and Koma Naked

In case you haven’t stopped by Gallery 2 yet to see Eiko & Koma’s Naked, I assure you it’s not what you expect, no matter what you’re expecting. Being present in the gallery while they’re performing is an inimitable experience. It surely lends support to Eiko’s statement in Dance Magazine that “The Walker is more like a temple than […]

In case you haven’t stopped by Gallery 2 yet to see Eiko & Koma’s Naked, I assure you it’s not what you expect, no matter what you’re expecting. Being present in the gallery while they’re performing is an inimitable experience. It surely lends support to Eiko’s statement in Dance Magazine that “The Walker is more like a temple than a department store type of museum.”

In the same article, Eiko also said “We want audiences to see a pristine landscape eons older than the one we all occupy, and in which we humans can rediscover our essential selves.”

City Pages said that Naked “is like entering into a dream world, but one so intense and self-consciously alive that it feels as though you must be awake. ”

And in Caroline Palmer’s review for the Strib she said “Watching Naked feels like a privilege.”

This live exhibition closes a week from tomorrow, with the last day to see it being Tuesday, November 30. Galleries are closed Thanksgiving day and Monday, November 29.

In case you’ve already seen Naked and your appetite has been whet, here’s a video that includes short extracts from all of Eiko & Koma’s performances at, or in association with, the Walker since 1981.

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