Experiencing BLACKFISH

Nov 18, 2010

After watching the preview of The Thank-you Bar from Emily Johnson | Catalyst + BLACKFISH last night, I am officially excited for the BLACKFISH concert tomorrow night. The band, Joel Pickard and James Everest (Emily's husband), provided such an amazing experience for listeners, and while they were perfect as part of this amazing multi-media performance, I could've listened to just them all night, too, and felt just as warm-hearted afterward. It wasn't just a show; it was a carefully crafted, yet utterly natural experience.

I was reminded of a style of poetry I've come across in my creative writing classes. The poet strings together beautiful, surrealist images, to create the sort of written cousin to a Salvador Dali painting. The poet, if asked, will not tell you what the poem is about. Rather, they set up these abstract, powerful images as a guide, an emotional journey that we, the reader, then affix our own meaning to, experiencing this meaning in a new and surprising way. The poem is meant to be different and personal for everyone. The poem is a vessel for us to carry our own definitions and explanations in.

BLACKFISH is the same way. After the preview last night, I was left feeling complete. As I watched and listened to these musicians piece together their auditory story, I found myself recalling memories, or triggering thought processes completely personal to myself. James and Joel weren't telling us, through lyrics or through strict music theory, how to interpret their music. They were creating intricate soundscapes, and then leaving the journey up to us. Smell is said to be the strongest trigger for memory - after listening to BLACKFISH, I'd like to argue that sound can be, too.

Joel or James would alternately play a short line of music, then, at the press of a pedal, it would loop back, playing over and over. Then the other, after listening to the first loop, would improvise another short musical phrase to add on top of that. They layered musical effect onto musical effect until the sound was so complete and natural, that if I hadn't watched them build the pieces, I would have thought that the sound just came out like this.

I have so much appreciation for their patience, their attention to detail, and their openness to improvisation. The band has been touring, and each of their concerts is different - they record each one for this reason. I think there's something innately beautiful in that - that this experience, this one moment of listening to BLACKFISH, can never be replicated in quite the same way. That this is one moment you will not get back, and you best close your eyes and open your mind while you're in it.

Live your moment tomorrow night. Look for me - I'll be in the front row, fully experiencing the heartbreakingly beautiful sounds of BLACKFISH.

-Melissa Wray
Communications Coordinator

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