After a lazy morning, I headed back along New Street and through the Bullring, stopping to take some photos just to remind myself I was actually there.
Then I trundled lazily along to the Custard Factory, then a little further along to VIVID, where I intended to catch a couple of sound+light based performances. Turns out I was early so I decided to go take some snaps of a nearby car park which I found oddly interesting.
Anyway, at 13:15 we were let in to the performance space. In the first of the two performances, four audience members were invited to stand in an outward facing square, holding two lights each. Thereafter the performer began hitting various electronic triggers with soft beaters firing off various surround sounds and various light flashes. The result was slightly disorienting, but in a nice way. Next up, Steve Reich’s Pendulum Music reinterpreted with light-sensitive noise boxes and swinging torches. It was a short performance, and the tone of the sound created was far more abrasive than the straight feedback of the original – but well worth seeing in my opinion.
Next, there was a break before any bands started, so I wandered around the site. This is when I came upon, on the Outside Stage, a Frenchman setting up weird little hand-crafted mechanical devices. I obviously realised that I had to see his performance, but it began 15 minutes after Bong started. So I headed to Space 2 to watch the first ten minutes of Bong, and then headed straight back to the Outside Stage to get me a seat along the edge, and enjoy the strange delights of Pierre Bastien.
Meccano devices turned and plucked various percussive elements, a fan blew a bit of tape about in a box, and a little revolving hook plucked a series of rubber bands to create a bassline. Highly inventive and delightful. Then Pierre begins playing some muted trumpet. Fair enough right? Well, then, after fiddling with his robots a bit, he begins playing some muted trumpet, THROUGH A GLASS OF WATER. Awesome.
Next up, and part of the same bill, Male Instrumenty, the self-styled “Polish orchestra of small instruments”. This was a band of multi-instrumentalists, opening with a vaguely Glass-ian piece, before moving on to various folk and circus musics while cycling through a phenomenal array of small instruments. A slight hiccup with the Ashbory Bass did not diminish their effect. A real surprise.
After that I headed to merch to pick up a few discs. Not a lot of Merch actually there surprisingly, but I ended up grabbing Totem’s One and Two, plus a live CDR from Master Musicians of Bukkake, knowing I would likely miss most, if not all, of their unique set.
I then popped into the production office to eat some Samosas, and some really nice lemony muffin. Oh, and get out of the cold. Bloody hell it was nippy out.
Then I asked if it would be possible to do some cleaning now for a half-hour so I could duck out and see Ruins. The guy said no, and that I was an idiot for asking, and then punched me in the face… Only joking. In fact, he said yes. HOORAY!
So I went around the food court area picking up rubbish, which was really dull, and changed two full bins. Then I indeed ducked out for Ruins. It was a short 25 minute set, but Yoshida Tatsuya was every-bit the drummer I expected. He was really good. But again, the Old Library was packed full, so I couldn’t really see anything. Still, glad I did it.
Next up, I headed back to production, donned my gloves and grabbed a couple of sacks, and went back to work. I ended up doing 20 minute bursts, and then having to sit 10 minutes or else there’d be no rubbish to pickup. I decided to pop in and catch at least the first half-hour of the MMOB set, which would have been fine, except that they didn’t come on for 20 minutes, so I only caught 15 minutes before I had to go finish my cleaning shift. They were filming it, and I was informed by the band’s bassist it was being recorded for posterity, so I’ll keep my eyes out for that.
Then it was a quick break, over to the Merch room for my four-hour shift. I got planted at a table selling Hallogallo, Neu! and Mugstar merch. The Neu! shirts were overpriced (£15 for shirts based on the covers to Neu! Neu! 2 and Neu! ’75), and I didn’t know anything about Mugstar and was thus basically unable to help people choose a disc to buy. But it was easy enough. Only problem, really cold and boring.
On the plus-side though, despite not being able to see Hallogallo, I could hear them perfectly. They were really good. Strong Motorik beats and a surprisingly strident guitar tone. Would have been nice to sit on the opposite side and chat to the Master Musicians guys though. Oh well. Yoshida Tatsuya showed up too, running for some reason. I didn’t talk to him, because after all, what do you say to a guy like that? “I like your music sir. So, how ’bout them Giants?” But it did indeed give me a warm glow to be in a room with MMOB and Zeni Geva. Then a couple of Mugstar guys came by to check on their sales. Not bad they said, though it was mostly dead the whole Sunday… Apparently everyone had already spent their money.
Anyway, we began wrapping up early after Hallogallo finished, and I got let off my shift by 23:30 which allowed me to catch the remainder of the Swans set, which was pretty damn awesome. I’m seeing them Monday night, so I figured I didn’t have to stay the whole set, but I ended up staying for everything but the encore, despite my freezing aching feet.
Anyway, after that it was back to the hotel and to bed. Supersonic over. I’ll do a summary later, but for now, I’ll just say it was fun, and thanks to everyone involved in putting it on, which this year, in the tiniest of capacities, included me. It was nice to get a peak at how things run on the other side of the fence, how much of it is just ordinary people pulling together to make things work. Anyway. Train to catch in the morning, so goodbye for now.