A calendar year is nothing but an accumulation of experiences experienced through the lens of an experiencing individual. Perhaps it is the EVENT that makes a year what it is – the personal, the cultural and the political. Yet what constitutes THE EVENT and how is it to be collectively articulated? This problem is not cured by our desperate attempts to pinpoint the ‘year-ness’ of 2016…the year of DEATH, NOSTALGIA, BIRTH AND HOPE….a cycle of the seasons. But this is the year of all years, it is no different than last year while maintaining radical uniqueness all at once. Ought we to celebrate or lament the passage of time, the flow of change and our continued existence? I’m not quite sure a ‘year’ requires substantiation as if we require evidence that yes, this did happen, I was (and still am) alive. Yet we do require this as there it is again, that nagging compulsion to ‘archive’ our experience persisting in me and all of humankind. Like an itch begging to be scratched….yes indeed, archive fever! Thus, I do indulge the impulse here by mapping out the moments that have shaped my present (and future) self along with SBVRSV as I gradually figure out what this project is all about.
01/01/16 – the seeds of SBVRSV sprout with my first show at London Fuse Studios featuring the inimitable Cosi e Cosi and YlangYlang marking the beginning of my relationship with them and the deep layers of their art.
SEE: YlangYlang’s “New Language” and Cosi e Cosi’s “F F I”.
03/19/16 – Meeting/interviewing Kristel Jax a.k.a. Brigitte Bardon’t and witnessing her perform an entrancing avant/drone pop set at a weird east side blue collar/rock bar in London…her ghostly Disney Princess vocal presence juxtaposed against large photographs of the ’27 club’ and bewildered regulars.
04/08/16 – Jessy Lanza’s opening set for a sparsely attended Junior Boys show at the London Music Hall. She didn’t seem to care how many people were there, she performed as if it was a packed house. So much energy, pep and attitude…Seeing her live really solidified the genius of her latest album ‘Oh No’. Honourable mention goes to Junior Boys for being solid but a much better studio act. ‘Big Black Coat’ is still one of my favs of the year.
04/19/16 – Finally seeing Deerhunter, one of my fav bands from high school, in Berkeley with my cousin who I had not seen in 10 years. Bradford acted as the eccentric, charismatic frontman I always thought he would, at one point throwing an orange into the crowd and vacuuming the carpet during the encore.
05/15/16 – Tagging along with my cousin Nick Monaco to The Monarch in San Francisco to hear him DJ for the first time ever. Experiencing the vitality of house music in SF and everyone’s respect for my cousin was incredibly inspiring. His album ‘Half Naked’ also became my soundtrack of the summer.
06/09/16 – Spacing out to Zach Gray’s beautiful ambient set in the living room of his home 423 English. I had just returned to London from California and this set along with the resulting EP ‘Live @423 English’ helped me come to terms with feelings from the past months and re-connect with my London friends.
06/10/16 – UNSOUND @ the Hearn Generating Facility in Toronto. Easily the best “festival” (if you want to call it that) I’ve ever experienced. The severe atmosphere of the plant’s ruins couldn’t have been more appropriate for the eclectic, experimental lineup of performers. Highlights included: Kara-Lis Coverdale, Raime, Amnesia Scanner, JLin, Orphx, Tim Hecker, and the transcendental rave pinnacle that was Evian Christ.
07/19/16 – Cosi e Cosi’s return to London for his ‘Beyond the Tree Rings Tour’ @ The Loft with Zach and Wormwood. Very affecting performances from all three acts and many a great discussion concerning art/aesthetics and identity. This show also helped boost confidence in my abilities as a promoter, prompting Zach to suggest I start my own press/booking agency…what would eventually become SBVRSV.
07/28/16 – Embarking on the ‘mystical voyage’ across Lake Ontario with good friend Phil, dancing to Khotin’s throwback house mixes until sunrise. Altogether, a surreal and moving experience.
08/26/16 – The Diagonal Records 5 yr. anniversary party w/ Powell, Not Waving, Joel Eel and Burglar at Soybomb. This show was my foray into Toronto’s underground electronic music scene. Burglar, whom I now know as Evan Burgess, blew me away with his mix of bizarro club and left-field pop (not to mention his Ariana Grande shirt). I also met new friends Gigi, Amandine, and my current roommate Dennis here!
9/23/16 – Back-to-back shows for my b-day with my bro Aaron in T.O. First night we raged to HEALTH, another band crossed off my bucket list, and second, we wretched along with Wolves in the Throne Room at Lee’s Palace. Although very different acts, both performances were intensely physical, tapping into a primal urge to unleash all inhibition and be enveloped by the great beyond.
11/09/16 – Machine Girl, Five Star Hotel and DJ Fetal Position inaugurate SBVRSV with the first official showcase at The Loft. It was great to meet these guys as I’d been following their music for a while and was a big fan. All three acts delivered phenomenal sets that exceeded my expectations. Super noisy yet accessible stuff that blurs the lines between underground and mainstream. No one could have represented SBVRSV’s mission more succinctly than these cats.
12/02/16 – Orphx at Soybomb. They were amazing at Unsound but this set went one step further. I went alone to this show and I’m glad I did because Orphx plunged me into a deep, trancelike state that consumed all my energy. The tracks they played from the brilliant ‘Pitch Black Mirror’ were earth-shattering…you couldn’t hear your own thoughts. This wasn’t just your standard-fare ‘techno rave’, it felt like something more, something monumental, something significant.
12/09/16 – The second official SBVRSV showcase and last of the year with PERSONS, Guy Madonna and Marathon Boy. This was just a really fun show to organize and be a part of. Tbh, it was the most fun I’ve ever had as a promoter because all prior shows my anxiety got the better of me. By this point, I felt confident enough in my curatorial skills and was able to enjoy myself. It was also largely due to the fact that PERSONS (hi Jackson, Katie, Juanita and Sam!) and Guy Madonna (Hi Christina and Zoe) were such down to earth, friendly people and incredibly engaging, energetic performers.
20 Albums/releases that made impressions on me this year both SBVRSV-related and not.
- YlangYlang & Cosi e Cosi – The Craft of Coupling / The Science of Separation
- Future – Purple Reign
- Zachary Gray – Live @ 423 English / Night Hustle
- Wormwood – O
- Jessy Lanza – Oh No
- Junior Boys – Big Black Coat
- Tim Hecker – Love Streams
- Julianna Barwick – Will
- Kanye West – The Life of Pablo
- Nick Monaco – Half Naked
- Cavern of Anti-Matter – Void Beats / Invocation Trex
- Slow Attack Ensemble – Soundscapes for the Emotional-Type Listener
- Pantha du Prince – The Triad
- Five Star Hotel – Gravity Signal
- Orphx – Pitch Black Mirror
- PERSONS – s/t
- Huerco S. – For Those of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have)
- Kedr Livanskiy – January Sun
- Babyfather – Platinum Tears
- ANOHNI – Hopelessness
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(Header image courtesy IndieUnderground)