Brunel’s Antonin Artaud building. For me, a structure that conjures up thoughts of hard news, deep study and radio broadcasts. Not the most romantic of connotations for a building to have, but it’s where I have most of my lectures, so that’s natural.
But last night, a Wednesday (5th of March if you must know), I stepped in to the Artaud building as I have dozens of times before, yet this time I found myself in a totally different place.
I found myself in a Latin festival, crowds of people smiling and dancing on the street. I found myself at the end of the world, watching society crumble whilst hard electronic beats pound through the air. I found myself recollecting sorrowful memories, drifting off in to a kaleidoscopic trance, and sitting slack-jawed at the feet of a prodigy soon to be unleashed upon the world.
Well, I’m clearly lying to your face. I did none of those things. Not in real life, anyway. I did, however, have eleven groups of first year students open my eyes (and ears) to the creativity and skill that can unknowingly lie right next me at any point in time.
I’m talking about Open Ears, a series of performances by Brunel’s newest music students. The eleven groups, between one and five performers each, were shown to the audience one after the other. Or rather, we were shown to them.
Each group performed in a different room that the crowd had to walk to between performances, giving the show an art gallery feel. It also allowed a mixture of totally different and eclectic styles to not feel jarring when heard back-to-back.
The show started in enigmatic fashion, as the spectres of Howl haunted the corner of a darkly lit space. The mood would soon change, however, as pulsing beats began to reverberate across the room. They were soon tempered by a range of traditional African percussion, performed through a tablet MPC.
Powerful visuals – the only ones used throughout the evening – accompanied the bassy sounds; each perfectly synergizing the other to increase the potency of both. Quite the way to start a show.
Locitos totally changed the mood in the second room, a Latin jazz band comprising piano, guitar and trumpet. It was the most pure fun of the night, heads bopping and toes tapping throughout the audience. Everyone left with a smile, and isn’t that what music should be all about?
On and on we were shifted, most performances with at least something a non-trained ear such as mine could appreciate (barring the bizarre moment where we had to wait in a hallway whilst piercing static screeched out of a small kitchen. Pretention doesn’t even do the half of it.) Honourable mention goes to Saturn – particularly their enthusiastic drummer – and the sombre and emotive melodies of Miwa and J.
As great as my experience was so far, though, little did I know the most meaningful part of my night was yet to come…