PIAF: Forgiving Night For Day / Kishi Bashi + Teeth and Tongue- 17/2

It’s not often I have to run from one end to the city to bask in the sea of culture that Perth International Arts Festival drowns the city in, but it’s usually well worth the trouble. It's the kind of deep body of water that it's fine to submerge in, and not swim back up (Though we must at the end of the day). 

The first thing I made a stop to was to check out the opening of Forgiving Night For Day at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art. I haven’t been to an opening at PICA for a while (due to just not being in the city on any given Friday for the most part), and I’ve always liked the aesthetic of Capone’s work- from a previous Hatched exhibition, the exact title escapes me. The titular exhibition, is a poetic art work, delivered in separate videos across several screens, revolving around the Portuguese word ‘saudade’, which is a profound longing for an absent something or someone, usually with the knowledge that the object of affection will never return (Thanks Wikipedia!)

Contemporary art has received a sledging of its reputation recently, some of it warranted- at its mildest, its usually criticism of aesthetic merit or lack thereof. Such an accusation cannot be levelled at Capone. The installations themselves are beautifully arranged in the main gallery, with the lights off for effect. The videos depict fado singers (Portuguese folkloric music) in Lisbon, singing a poem that had Jacobus had written specifically for the work itself, as the sun rises and the day begins. The backdrop of the city itself, with its heritage-listed limestone buildings (and the modern panorama out of the picture), harking old-fashioned Occidental perceptions of Iberian culture, is simply picturesque (that said, I am a bit of a Europhile). I couldn’t hear the recitation itself, being the opening night and all, so that I would have to come in and check out another day when the place is nice and quiet.

Also there was cheese. I took one rather large slice, and it was rather salty, which is exactly how I like my cheese.

(Photo: Jacobus Capone- Forgiving Night For Day)

After that, it was a time to go all the way other end, bypassing through London Court, down to Elizabeth Quay (it’s actually the first time i’ve been down there) and hit up the Chevron Festival Gardens. Not that it look much like a garden, and it did feel a bit… tiny, but if at the very least it was festive.

Kishi-Bashi, the main act, came up first, which is not the usual run of things. The Japanese-American kicked it off with a few upbeat numbers from his latest album. At the heart of his set is the lovely sounds of his violin (which Kishi-Bashi played with great finesse), and that of his partner on his electrified banjo. Somewhere halfway during the set, the banjo player went on an electrifying solo that was immensely memorable. Then the band was given a break and it was all just Kishi Bashi, a violin and his keyboard, and belted out one of his more intimate tracks “Can’t Let Go, Juno”, to which the crowded sounded their appreciation of this part of the set, by correctly not making any noise at all. After this, it went almost 180, switching to an extra-noisy, high tempo beat reminiscent of J-Pop hits, complete with the seizure inducing light show. Near the front, there was a lot of stomping and dancing followed with literal shaking of the floor (the surface of the amphitheater was rather soft and prone to bouncing. This also caused some of the crowd to just straight out head for the exits. For those that remained, Kishi-Bashi asked the crowd what they would like him to play, with various answers, though Manchester seemed the loudest, and finished the set with that.

Melbourne party starters Teeth And Tongue came up to cap off the night, but the crowd already whittled down to the few stalwarts who chose to party on. It was a shame, though they were the perfect band for a crowded moshpit that never was, though Kishi-Bashi did enjoin himself amongst the crowd. From the get go, it was a non-stop avalanche of frenetic, pulsating dance beats fit for a rave. Jess Cornelius took a commanding presence, calling all the shots, though her banter game was a bit forced and awkward. Each song seemed like it flowed from one to the next, and overall, it was a great, fun vibe.

(Photo- Rachel Barrett- Kishi Bashi / Teeth & Tongue)

Andrew Ryan