Concert Reviews: Hot Club of Somerville (2/28/2013), Victor Gama, EVIYAN (3/2/2013)

Last week, the Boston Circus Guild put on a couple of variety shows at Oberon in Harvard Square – they had live music, comedy acts, burlesque/sirlesque and various circus-type performances like juggling and acrobatics. I won a pair of tickets from a Facebook contest (thank you, Emperor Norton’s Stationary Marching Band!), so I convinced my brother to come with me and we made a night of it. We were lucky enough to see the live debut of the Hot Club of Somerville, a jazz/swing offshoot of ENSMB. We both really enjoyed their short set – I was dancing on my sprained ankle! It was particularly fun that they played some Squirrel Nut Zipper tunes, since that was the last concert my brother and I went to together, a few years back. I think my favorite part was when the accordion player sang a tune; I was really impressed by her voice and her singing talent. (I wish I’d caught her name! I will have to ask around, because I can’t find that info online.)

On Saturday I made a last-minute decision to check out the EVIYAN concert at MIT’s Kresge Auditorium. I really like the Kresge – it’s big (~1200 capacity), with good sight-lines, good sound, and it has an enormous stage allowing for large, complex performances. They present a lot of new music there (in the sense of contemporary classical / avant garde type stuff, not just “music that is new”). I’ve had a lot of really interesting nights at the Kresge under their strange-looking wavy acoustic ceiling panels.

I didn’t know until I showed up that there was going to be a solo set by Victor Gama, which turned out to be a lovely surprise. He is a composer, performer, and instrument maker, and he brought three of his own instruments to perform on: the acrux, the toha, and the dino. I unfortunately did not catch which instrument had which name, but I thought they were all fascinating. Here are two of them:

Instruments

The one on the left had a sound somewhere in the harp/guitar/pizzicato-cello neighborhood, and the other sounded very much like a thumb piano. The third instrument he played (not pictured) was a single-stringed instrument played with a bow; that one had a really interesting timbre. I thought there might be some electronics involved in the piece he played on the single-string instrument, but I couldn’t see well enough from where I was sitting to say for sure. I found his performance really interesting and beautiful – I would definitely go see him again.

EVIYAN was, to my ears, a (more…)