Tuesday, 1 September 2009

David Byrne: Playing the Building - The Roundhouse 08-31/08/09

Having missed out on this whilst in New York last year, I was really quite chuffed to find out that Byrne was bringing his installation to the only nice building in Camden, The Roundhouse. Despite my enthusiasm and the fact that it was on for a month, I nearly missed it anyway, only managing to drag myself there on the last day, twenty minutes before last entry. It wasn't really a gig, but there were people playing an instrument and that's good enough for me so here's a review of sorts.

Walking in to the room the first thing that struck me was how long the queue was to play the organ. See this blurry photo for evidence:


If you factor in that everyone who plays it goes on for about five minutes, that's a long wait. Maybe that's what I get for leaving it until the last day, or maybe the queue was like that everyday, I dunno, but I wasn't gonna wait. Besides, it soon becomes apparent that the building sounds pretty much the same regardless of who's playing it, which is to say, it sounds like a bunch of metallic clanging and whistling, sometimes quite pleasant, sometimes a bit jarring, but nothing particularly outstanding one way or the other.

Something that did catch my attention though - along with most of the people there - were the interpretive dancers who'd decided that this installation provided a perfect backdrop for acting like a loon. Swimming on the floor, climbing about on each other and looking basically like they're unhinged or tripping, but with that irritating flourish of foot, or wrist, or eyes that people seem to catch at drama school and add to every movement they make like some kind of ostentatious sickness. Look, here's a shitty video to illustrate that:


video

What a bunch of dickheads. Anyway enough from the distracting, prancing fuckwits, let's get back to the installation. The concept is interesting enough - wire up a building and play it like an instrument - I like that, it sounds like a fun thing to do, but in practice the whole thing just seemed a little underwhelming and I have to wonder quite how many people would give a shit about it and sing its praises if it didn't have David Byrne's name attached to it.

Maybe I'd like it a lot better if I got to play. Maybe I could give a fairer review. Maybe somehow I would magically have fallen in love with it. But I didn't get to play, and I didn't fall in love with it, so this is what you get. Another disaffected moan. Woohoo!

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