Tuesday, May 12, 2009

No Neck Blues Band & Adam Egypt Mortimer, Bozar 05/05/2009

We arrive at Bozar and join a select group of people waiting in the entrance hall. There are only perhaps 30 people for the gig/film, which is a real disappointing turnout. I can't remember seeing any publicity for this show on fora or concerts (knew about the gig via band's newsletter) but then, I'm not following up 'the scene' as close as I want to. First off we receive a short informal speech from Adam Egypt Mortimer, the man who's making the No Neck Blues Band movie 'At 6 AM We Become The Police', which is scheduled to be released at the end of this year. He tells us the movie is almost finished, but he regards it as a work that is still in progress and as he is still shooting material it could be that things will be added/deleted. He warns us that it wasn't his intention to make a story about the band, its members and how they think about the band, music, musicianship, neither is its aim to inform the viewer about how the music is built, thought out, conceptualised or whatever. Instead, he wanted to keep the sort of mystery about the band alive. Indeed, the band members, sitting relaxed in the audience during the screening, confirm that in the beginning they were not open about his filming but after a while (Adam Egypt Mortimer has been following the band since early/mid '90s) things started to work out nice.
The movie itself is - just like the band and its music - one strange affair. All sorts of concert and rehearsal fragments are presented (some of them from a long time ago). The focus is rather on details, the camera shifts follow each other quite fast and the band is shot from different angles. The aim is clearly not to present statically how the band plays (from a more technical point of view), but rather to try to give the viewer an idea about how the band deals with chaos, improvisation, unexpected things, unusual concert settings (in open air for instance). The music sounds more chaotic/improvised/more extreme than the No Neck stuff I have at home. The fragments are mixed with fictional elements, sort of video-clip-style. I remember seeing the beginning of the movie on you tube, a strange thing where two band members (swimming and walking) are confronted with some sort of mirror closet or box and a shining purple eggplant. If that doesn't make much sense to you, well nothing about this band and this movie does. You just have to go with the flow and enjoy the weird but fascinating trip. No questions are answered, but I would say, leave the questions behind and enjoy the images. All is well filmed, cut, pasted. O yeah, there is nudity in the movie ... a man in the nude fighting it out with some lobsters (only a few, not that much, for budget reasons Adam explains afterwards :-). Rock Lobster indeed!

After a short pause the band enters the stage one by one. At first we thought the sound check was still going on but it appeared to be the guy from Embryo (I think ...) sitting on a cheap keyboard, rubbing it, pressing his hands on it and doing some vocal improvisations. Afterwards, a huge flight case (looks almost like a coffin) is put on the stage. In it is Matt Heyner, who leaves the thing, covered with a black cloth and his addition to the rest of the show is him in a sort of slowed down fight with the flight case and the cloth. Meanwhile percussion, guitars and vocals enter the mix. The atmosphere of the music is loose, relaxed, a bit tumultuous and chaotic. A band member is standing in the audience, clapping, shouting and suddenly he enters the stage with white tissues he must have got from the toilet and soon he is dressing every band member with it, while dropping the pants of the percussionist before he picks up the bass and starts playing along. The last part of the set is more introspective, some slightly melancholic/melodic elements turn up (from the bass and guitar players). After perhaps three quarters of an hour they stop playing, leaving the people a bit in a surprise that the set is already finished. We hit town to drink a couple of beers and conclude that the show and the movie were good. Surely strange but good.

Digested the show with regular beer, experience could have been better with Chimay Blue

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