Gijs introduces the instruments and his practice with the help of video examples and funny internet anecdotes. Sometimes he plays the sounds of the instruments and provides a voice over, in order to explain what we are listening to and why it looks and sounds the way it does. A couple of minutes in, a visitor behind me asks when Gijs will finally start playing his concert. I laugh quietly because I know that this is already the concert. We are here, right now.
Gijs’ untraditional form of concert composition is easily mistaken for a show and tell. Or maybe it is in fact a show and tell performed as concert. Whatever it is, when I ask Gijs about it, he confirms it definitely is a concert to him.
I don’t think we should see Gijs’ concert derive as an isolated event or praxis. There is of course a long tradition of artists who realise that during a concert, they do not strictly have to please their audience. A concert mode offers many forms of freedom that artists can take advantage of – time, space, instrument or composition are just a few of the parameters of this freedom.
What is new to me is the introduction of reflective narration about music and the perfomance of instrument as show and tell as a concert mode. Although the voice and narration as instrument surely is quite traditional. In any case, its besides the point of Kairos to get all historic here.
Another concert I recently visited comes to mind: Goodiepal at the Dentist, London, August 2014. Goodiepal is known to talk a lot during his concerts, mimicking or emulating music genres, while using his voice or mouth, sometimes more than any other instrument readily available. Goodiepal masters the art of tactical whistling, breathing – in and out – and singing new moment/um into classic and cliché, pop and folk music genres. Interestingly enough, right after Goodiepals concert last August I witnessed a similar kairos-resistance event. Someone came up to Goodiepal and asked: do you ever even play music at your concerts anymore?
Whether it is /*because or */although the voice is the oldest instrument out there, it definitely makes for one of the most scrutinised, yet interesting instruments I have witnessed of late (open the floor to Holly Herndon references later). Especially when it comes to a genre that has the Lyrebird as its spirit animal – a bird who has sunshine in her throat.