Tag Archives: Sarah Neufeld

Hillside reviews: Supersonic (Lee Ranaldo and The Dust, Colin Stetson, Richard Reed Parry, Sarah Neufeld +guests) at Guelph Lake Island Stage – July 28, 2013

Members of Sonic Youth, Arcade Fire play improvised set featuring reimagination of The Velvet Underground and Nico’s “All Tomorrow’s Parties”

Lee Ranaldo and The Dust performed a collaborative workshop with Arcade Fire/Bell Orchestre members Colin Stetson, Sarah Neufeld, and Richard Reed Parry at Hillside Festival in Guelph, Ont. on July 28. Photo: Tom Beedham

Lee Ranaldo and The Dust performed a collaborative workshop with Arcade Fire/Bell Orchestre members Colin Stetson, Sarah Neufeld, and Richard Reed Parry at Hillside Festival in Guelph, Ont. on July 28. Photo: Tom Beedham

With a lineup consisting of Sonic Youth founder/guitarist Lee Ranaldo and his new band The Dust (which includes fellow Sonic Youth member and drummer Steve Shelley), Arcade Fire and Bell Orchestre members Sarah Neufeld, Richard Reed Parry, and Colin Stetson (all of whom performed their own sets previously that day at Hillside Festival), listeners knew they were in for something special when they assembled under the tent at Island Stage for the closing performance of Hillside’s 30th anniversary July 28. But when, before the interim super group drove into its collaboration, Parry offered a disclaimer admitting, “We’re making this up as we go along,” fans were guaranteed a truly idiosyncratic presentation from some of the best classically and alternatively informed musicians in the world.

If a little highbrow, the workshop experiment’s marquee prestige was tested by its allegedly extemporaneous coming together; transporting its participants from the comparatively insular settings of their typical creative unwindings to a public environment, the bands and their special guests showcased their true grit (as if anyone was suspicious) with a handful of introspective drone numbers.

As Steve Shelley hammered out a meditative bed track and Neufeld and Stetson tapped into their frenetic-to-tranquil-shifting fiddle work and dirgeful sax drones (respectively), providing a source of friction for the rest of the group to massage, Ranaldo dug into his seemingly bottomless bag of tricks to display some of the experimental techniques featured minimally (if at all) on his newer solo material and at his earlier Main Stage performance with The Dust. He tested one of his Fender Jazzmasters’ physical endurance with some unrestrained neck bending, took the body with both hands and shook out some choppy feedback surfing, drew and peppered a fiddle bow and timpani mallets across the strings, and even applied iPhone playback to the pickups to render feedback.

Leaving the acoustic six-string he stuck to throughout his solo set earlier in the day, Parry, à la Bell Orchestre, manned a double bass for the entirety of the collaborative set, also putting the percussion skills he’s sourced for in Arcade Fire and Little Scream to use by drumming on the instrument’s sides. The Dust’s Tim Luntzel aided him in providing the low end.

(review continues after video)

Laurel Sprengelmeyer (Little Scream) – a collaborator of Parry’s and his solo act’s keyboardist for the day – came onstage to perform Nico’s vocals on a slow burning, 11-minute reimagination of The Velvet Underground’s “All Tomorrow’s Parties.” (See video above.) Mostly instrumental, it was an easy set highlight that doubled as a nod to The National-curated All Tomorrow’s Parties performance Parry gave in December of last year. Sprengelmeyer also performed vocals for the ensemble’s  interpretation of Mary Margaret O’Hara’s “When You Know Why You’re Happy,” which she and Parry recorded in 2012 for the first volume of Have Not Been the Same: The Can-Rock Renaissance 1985-1995’s companion compilation, Too Cool to Live, Too Smart to Die.

Halfway through the Hillside performance, Ranaldo and The Dust left the stage while Stefan Schneider (The Luyas) stepped up to take Shelley’s spot at the kit for what Neufeld announced as “a post-Bell Orchestre throw down.”

About ten minutes after having left the stage, Ranaldo and co. rejoined the group to transition into a reworking of the performer’s “Hammer Blows” that would close out the evening  and with it, the 30th anniversary of Hillside. As a festival that’s built a reputation on providing the one-of-a-kind performer-coupling workshops it has hosted over the years, ending things with a little bit of the same magic seemed the only appropriate way to do things.

Arcade Fire’s version of Peter Gabriel’s “Games Without Frontiers” is set to appear on a compilation of material covering the singer’s work, And I’ll Scratch Yours, which will also feature a cover of “Solsbury Hill” by Velvet Underground frontman Lou Reed. The record is the answer to Scratch My Back, an album recorded by Gabriel as a collection of songs by other performers, including Arcade Fire’s “My Body Is A Cage” and Lou Reed’s “The Power Of The Heart.” And I’ll Scratch Yours is scheduled for release Sept. 23 via Real World.

Both Lee Ranaldo and The Dust and Arcade Fire have new albums of original material forthcoming. Lee Ranaldo and The Dust are set to release their first album under that official title sometime in September this year. So far untitled, the album will arrive via Matador Records. Also as yet untitled, Arcade Fire will release an  LP  Oct. 29 via Mercury Records.

Related posts:
Hillside reviews: Colin Stetson at Island Stage – July 28, 2013
Hillside reviews: Richard Reed Parry at Island Stage – July 28, 2013
Hillside reviews: Sarah Neufeld at Guelph Lake Island Stage – July 28, 2013

Hillside reviews: Sarah Neufeld at Guelph Lake Island Stage – July 28, 2013

Arcade Fire and Bell Orchestre violinist performs music from solo debut in Guelph

Sarah Neufeld (left) brought life partner and Arcade Fire/Bell Orchestre bandmate Colin Stetson (right) onstage for a special performance of "Breathing Black Ground" amid a set of her solo material at Hillside Festival in Guelph, Ont. July 28. Photo: Tom Beedham

Sarah Neufeld (left) brought life partner and Arcade Fire/Bell Orchestre bandmate Colin Stetson (right) onstage for a special performance of “Breathing Black Ground” amid a set of her solo material at Hillside Festival in Guelph, Ont. July 28. Photo: Tom Beedham

Positioned on the Island Stage at the tail end of a program of solo performances from fellow Arcade Fire and Bell Orchestre bandmates Richard Reed Parry and Colin Stetson, experimental violinist Sarah Neufeld used her own time at Hillside to give a rapt audience a preview of the bulk of her upcoming solo debut, Hero Brother.

Opening her set the same way her album does, Neufeld kicked things off with hypnotic album cuts “Tower,” “Hero Brother,” and “Dirt,” then skipping over a few she’d save for the finale to jump into the contrasting “Wrong Thought” and “Right Thought.”

Having recorded the album with site-specific acoustics in Berlin, at recent performances Neufeld has requested that venues supply wooden boxes or cookie sheets for her to kick while fiddling away. But positioned atop Hillside’s Island Stage, a hollow plywood construct, Neufeld found an entirely new environment to route her songs through, by way of much more than geography.

A student of the revered Suzuki method – the highly intensive school of violin – Neufeld weaved intricately around the strings while pounding the stage with her deliberate heel blows, delivering it all from behind a deeply concentrated gaze. But the show broke highbrow when one particular stomp coincided with a small explosion to the side of the stage and Neufeld quipped about causing it with her foot.

The violinist also sliced any pretension by getting casual with the crowd in between songs.

Breaking to take a drink after “Right Thought,” Neufeld lifted her Hillside mug and drained a handsome gulp, claiming, “I need to let the muscles in my arm unseize before I play again. That’s what the beer is for, I guess.”

She quickly retracted the statement, however, to make reference to her other occupation, yoga instruction.

“No! That’s yoga!”

It all made for a fitting segue leading into “Muscle Till Death,” a song that doesn’t appear on Hero Brother’s tracklisting and suggests Neufeld’s solo album might not simply be a one-off.

She followed the track with the album’s “Forcelessness,” featuring a guest performance from Richard Reed Parry on guitar (a collaboration Neufeld announced she’d never been able to perform live before).

After that, Neufeld closed the set with Hero Brother centerpieces “Breathing Black Ground” and the beautifully melancholic “They Live On,” bringing life partner and experimental saxophonist Colin Stetson onstage with his century-old bass sax for the former and relating the experience of recording it in an abandoned geodesic dome “with lots of reverb.”

It wasn’t the last the crowd saw of Neufeld and her associates at Hillside, though; Neufeld, Parry, and Stetson all performed a special collaborative workshop with Lee Ranaldo & The Dust as well as special guests that closed out the festival at the end of the night.

Hero Brother releases August 20 via Constellation.

Setlist:
“Tower”
“Hero Brother”
“Dirt”
“Wrong Thought”
“Right Thought”
“Muscle Till Death”
“Forcelessness” (w/ Richard Reed Parry)
“Breathing Black Ground” (w/ Colin Stetson)
“They Live On”

Related:
Richard Reed Parry showcases his “Quiet River Of Dust” project at Hillside
Hillside reviews: Colin Stetson at the Island Stage – July 28, 2013
Sarah Neufeld, Richard Reed Parry, Colin Stetson perform workshop with Lee Ranaldo &The Dust
The New York Times’ Style Magazine has the video premiere for “Forcelessness”

Hillside reviews: Richard Reed Parry at Guelph Lake Island Stage – July 28, 2013

Richard Reed Parry shares stage, announces collaboration with Dallas Good of The Sadies

Richard Reed Parry performed his rarely heard “Quiet River of Dust” project at Hillside Festival in Guelph, Ont. on July 28. Photo: Tom Beedham

Richard Reed Parry performed his rarely heard “Quiet River of Dust” project at Hillside Festival in Guelph, Ont. on July 28. Photo: Tom Beedham

Although he’s recognized as a multi-instrumentalist that plays everything from drums and double bass to accordion and celesta in Arcade Fire and Bell Orchestre, when Richard Reed Parry performed his solo work at Hillside Festival July 28, he came onstage bearing only an acoustic guitar.

Well, that and some friends.

Performing his yeti sighting-rare and All Tomorrow’s Parties-retained “Quiet River of Dust” project at Guelph Lake with the help of Bell Orchestre bandmate Stefan Schneider on drums and Laurel Sprengelmeyer (Little Scream) on keys, Parry kicked off the first of three hours of Hillside programming from members of the two most publicized bands to which he belongs.

Although he played the more sparsely attended hour amongst the block that also saw performances from Sarah Neufeld and Colin Stetson, perhaps not used to holding the spotlight onstage (although visibly comfortable, no doubt), Parry also called upon some collaborators to share the stage with.

Performing a song he called “Gentle Pulsing Dust,” Parry invited fellow Hillside performer Dallas Good of The Sadies onstage to introduce his own voice and an electric guitar into the mix. Parry also announced the two of them have been working together on material on-and-off for some years (Parry, 35, also joked the process might mean the two won’t get around to releasing a full record until he turns 40, so there’s that, too).

Sarah Neufeld – who, in addition to her own set, also performed in a special collaborative workshop with Parry, Colin Stetson, and Lee Ranaldo and The Dust at Hillside – also joined the performer onstage.

While not a set highlight, immediately following Parry’s performance, a festival announcer told the audience that Arcade Fire would release a new album Oct. 29, to which Parry quickly responded with a “Shh!” over the mic. Of course, the release date of Arcade Fire’s upcoming record went public July 12 when the band’s Twitter account responded to a fan’s praise on Twitter with news of the album. Parry’s reaction to the Hillside announcement of that news suggests that perhaps not all of the Grammy Award and Polaris Prize-winning band was in the loop on or concerned with the promotion strategy (if that) for the new release. Or maybe he was just being coy.

Related posts:
Hillside reviews: Supersonic (Lee Ranaldo and The Dust, Colin Stetson, Richard Reed Parry, Sarah Neufeld +guests) at Guelph Lake Island Stage – July 28, 2013