One of the most fun things about the Contra Syncretist
project is how, since the techno contras tend to be events rather than series (or series of individual events), people get really excited about them as this new special shiny thing. Take, for instance, musician Julie Vallimont talking about this year's (official!) Flurry Festival
(Saratoga Springs, NY) techno contra, to be played by Firecloud
:"The main exciting thing for me is having a techno contra [officially] at the
Flurry for the first time, and making it welcoming and accessible to
everyone.... I like how in techno contra you can create the atmosphere and you can go outside yourself for a while (that's what [our] costumes are about).... We just want to have a good time and want people to dance and not want to stop, and maybe get in a trancey sort of place, make it feel like an afterparty, cool down and heat up all at the same time and have fun with everyone."She continues, "We're going to be in the [Melita] Ballroom for the techno contra, so it'll be a little more intimate; we'd rather it be too crowded than too empty..... We've also got a four-person lighting team working on this event." She also mentioned that Firecloud will be debuting some new material, which is particularly cool since last October they added DJ Nanocannon (a.k.a. Andrew Hlynsky) to their lineup.
"We’re trying to create an experience," says Julie, "but it’s ultimately the dancers who are going to show up and create the experience."Hope to see some of you there...Steve and I will be there for at least part of the dance (it runs from 12:30 AM to 2:30 AM Saturday morning -- or does it still count as Friday night at that hour?), and of course we're going to be at the full Flurry Festival too, which promises to be lots of fun. Now, where did I stash that suitcase...?Update, 2/14/2013:
Edited quotation per Julie's request.
Last Sunday was ContraEvolution II
in Greenfield, MA. Steve and I were there.
In no particular order:
1. Firecloud has expanded! ContraEvolution II marked the debut of Firecloud as a trio, with new member Andrew "DJ Nanocannon" Hlynsky (their band debut was January 1, 2012 at Glen Echo; I've chronicled my initial impressions elsewhere in this blog
). The combo of two live musicians and the DJ made the sound seem a lot fuller and this appearance seemed more like an integration of the personalities involved than before. (Also notable: Julie playing techno jawharp, and Andy Reiner singing for parts of the set!)
2. dJ improper
making a contra mix including the viral Korean hit "Gangnam Style." Let it not be said that he doesn't have his finger on the pulse of the current moment. (Alas, I didn't see anybody managing to incorporate the "horse dance" that goes with the song into a flourish.)
3. Face painting and body art with neon paint from local artist Eve Christoph. The paints (and smudges) on dancers' bodies reacted with the blacklight and other lighting effects as the evening wore on.
4. Ed Howe's wandering between the lines with his fiddle during Perpetual e-Motion
's set. On one of Ed's trips down into the masses (it might have been during the waltz, I honestly don't remember), Julie Vallimont took Ed's vacant chair next to John Coté and pantomimed fiddle playing along with the music for a little while.
5. Giant Robot Dance
playing Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" in their set while Lisa Greenleaf was calling. (This was particularly amusing to me because Lisa led a series of contra dances a few years ago to recorded pop songs, and among the notable artists she included in the recorded selection was Lady Gaga.)
To others who went: what were your favorite moments?
I first caught up with Jack Mitchell
when he called a Contra Sonic
installment in 2011. He mentioned that he had danced with Electric Camel Contra
and called to dJ improper
's sets before, though not with dJ improper himself there, and that he saw some interesting differences between the experiences--at which point I knew I had to talk to him for Contra Syncretist
My first resolution for 2012 encompasses both my role in the contra blogosphere and my life outside of contra and this blog (yes, as hard as it may be to believe, that does in fact exist): I like finding new music and sharing it with people. So it seemed particularly opportune when Julie Vallimont
(accordion and piano player extraordinaire and half of Double Apex) and fiddler Andy Reiner
made their world debut as Firecloud at Glen Echo last night. Their focus is a certain brand of "fiddle techno" that combines live, looped, and synthetic sounds, so I was eager to check them out.My initial impression is that while at times I've heard "fiddle techno" before that has been really heavy on techno and somewhat light on fiddle, Firecloud, at least last night, seemed to more distinctly feature Julie's piano and Andy's fiddle. Despite this being the very first time they played together, the duo blended together really well and the background synth beats did a good job of framing their instrumental collaboration, rather than drowning it out. Part of this may be due to their common reference point being the tradition and their not having as much time to plan a heavier techno influence, but I thought it worked rather well as-is.They will be touring the Eastern Seaboard in the place of Double Apex the first part of this week. Those of you in Virginia and North Carolina should make a point of going to see them.Firecloud will be next playing in Greenwood, VA tonight (Monday, January 2). They will be in Winston-Salem, NC on Tuesday, January 3, and in Asheville, NC on Wednesday, January 4. On this latter date, Ed Howe of Perpetual e-Motion will join Julie and Andy to make the evening a really special event -- to those around Asheville who are able to go, please find some way to share on YouTube or similar; I am jealous! Also, apparently Ed Howe will be playing both with John Coté and with Julie Vallimont next weekend for Chattaboogie, at which Steve and I will also be dancing, January 6-8, in Chattanooga, TN.