On The Scene: Sally Can\’t Dance 2012

The 2012 Sally Can’t Dance music festival took place last last weekend – a brewing pot of experimental artists hailing from everywhere in China…I managed to check out the concoctions being cooked up over at the new unnamed D-22 venue cozily tucked away in the corner of a hutong on Dianmen near Houhai. Instead of writing out each performance, I’ll gonna try something a little different here – think of it as an experimental approach to my sepel.
Here’s a list of what transpired in the seven hours I spent at the Sally Can’t Dance Music Festival…

       German Olaf Hochherz played on a switchboard that looked like an awful lot like the Simon Says gameboard – playing minimalist ambient music which sounded like someone stuck in a control room trying to save the planet from a nuclear meltdown; recall the sound effects of 70s sci-fi greats like 2001: A Space Odyssey and you get the picture
       Drunk lots of red wine from Portugal that suspiciously tasted a lot like cheap red wine from China
       I saw a man use a tape measurer as an instrument – can’t make this shit up people
       Wondered if it would be considered a contribution or a distraction if I jumped in during the Ad Hoc Improv Committee’s performance and started kicking a trash bin or scratching metal …I eventually decided it would be the latter
       Yet unless my mind was playing tricks on me, I swear there were plenty of nondiegetic sounds joining in on the fun, so I was jealous nevertheless
       Played interior decorator with others as we tried to imagine the best set-up for the new venue, which was only just obtained a week prior to the festival – worst idea: a smoking room in one corner
       Li Tieqiao made me physically and mentally uncomfortable with his light/electronic set, where he used laser pointers and “clap-on” lanterns (what the hell were those?) to create and temper with sound, as well as my head —– pretty remarkable feat as it forced me to crawl to the exit in agony
       On the other hand, Li Tieqiao made me quite comfortable with his bitchin saxophone skills
       I learned the word cacophony today
       I used my newfound vocabulary to describe these guys from Shanghai:
       Held my jaw open in awe for 8 straight minutes as Li Daiguo from Dali went schizo on his string instrument whist using his mouth as an instrument….seriously, who needs hallucinogens when you got this

       Came home, and then realized I forgot to stay for Xiao He — oppsy daisy

So that’s that – the Sally Can’t Dance festival for me. Experimental music at its purest. And though it’s always a mixed bag with what you get, it really does push the limits of what one considers as music, sound, or art – so that while listening (or being bombarded, attacked, even shocked) you are constantly mapping out new boundaries for yourself, extending the line for what pleases your ears, or sometimes even pulling that line in. It’s a plunge some might consider a risk, but at the end of the day, is an experience like none other.

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