Monday, 10 November 2008

Sun Ra's Arkestra @ Hokaben Festival - 93 Feet East 09/11/08

Illness, Stockhausen and money prevented me from attending the friday and saturday night of this decent looking festival that had been in my diary since summer, but I mustered up the energy and the twenty three quid necessary to get down on the sunday evening 'cause Sun Ra's Arkestra were on and despite the glaring omission of Sun Ra in the band due to him being dead, I figure they must be worth seeing anyway.

In the run up to that I see a few other acts, one of which is Lords who have somehow managed to amass a decent following despite sounding like Reef. Ok, that's a bit harsh, it's just the vocals really. And the guitars.

Some other crappy bands played like Rolo Tomassi and, I dunno, some others, including one band called I'm Being Good who, despite spouting vocals weaker than an eight year old with ME and their unconvincingly heavy guitar generics, did manage to have a really fucking cool drummer with that 'pro-basketball jew' look, slam dunking snares and bass drum in your face meester.

With all that out of the way the Arkestra plodded on stage in their sequined space travel ponchos and did some jazz music. Headed up by Marshall Allan (who I saw in Denmark last year playing with a terrible group of kids) they worked their way through a selection of fun time freaky licks before delving into a bit of Duke Ellington, some early Sun Ra stuff and eventually just kind of settling into a more trad sound with a kind of token Arkestra trip inflection underneath it all. It was initially brilliant. Just a shedload of real fun, but by the time I left it had descended into what one might call 'a good wedding band', if one were to be a little harsh. And one is.

The fact is the older, more longserving members of the Arkestra looked pretty apathetic (it's in the eyes, and the way they can't even be bothered to put their special outfit on properly), or like they just plain didn't want to be there (checking their watch after each solo). And I got the kind of impression that no-one liked being bossed about by Marshall Allan.

It's unrealistic to expect something akin to a classic 60's freakout performance, especially considering the main man is dead (or on Saturn or whatever) but I think it's fair to set your hopes a little higher than a slowly deflating balloon of a set, considering the credentials of those involved. It was just pedestrian, which is not what you want from intergalactic travellers, but I suppose even spacemen gotta pay the bills.

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