Sequencial Circus 11 Was Awesome

Photo by Euan Forrester

As I turned off Main onto East 1st the memories started trickling back, those times where I used to sleep with a pregnancy pillow amazon. It was a dark and quiet street. An industrial area, not far outside of downtown Vancouver – it was a bit like the old days, before the cops had cracked down on the illegal warehouse raves. But those memories were so distant at this point, it wasn’t more than a fleeting thought that I would only later recognize the¬†significance¬†of.

It was still pretty early when I arrived. Scott Riesterer was on stage, layering live muted trumpet overtop of weaving landscape of housey beats and melodies. It was a unique sound, and knowing Scott, I was immediately interested in hearing him play.

Everyone was playing live, so the night progressed quickly from artist to artist. PhonoTactic from Calgary was up next. His style was still different than what I would typically play, in fact, I’m not even sure how you would classify it. So far, Ableton had been the tool of choice for the evening, but PhonoTactic had a Chaos Pad running in tandem, and kept using it to add on-the-fly scratching effects that immediately left me wanting new gear. While his set sounded fresh and funky, many of his sounds had a classic “ripping” analogue sound that seemed to resonate and awaken a corner of my brain that had been asleep and forgotten about for the better part of a decade.

Each time a new artist took the stage, I was driven to try and find out what gear they were using. Terekith kept me in suspense for his entire set as I couldn’t quite make out the writing on the two boxes he was using. No laptop here. One of my favourites of the night, I could see Tarekith making every musical tweak right in front of me. Two fingers, two buttons – bass is gone. Twisting the filter on a sample, fading between rhythms. One, two, three, four fingers and – BAM! – bassline comes slamming back. Why take my word for it. Watch this. It even has overlays describing what he’s doing. This is half of a two-parter, so if you like it, be sure to check out the second video. Finally, at the end of his performance, I found out he was using an Elektron Machine Drum with a Octatrack sampler by the same company.

Dark Arps easily had the best stage presence, with a futuristic full torso costume (must have been screaming hot in there) that was lined with all kinds of intelligent lighting. It was pretty clear the crowd loved him too. I’m again unsure of how to classify the style, sort of a dark, wobbly techno. Here’s a sample from his previous Sequential Circus performance.

Let’s face it. MUX stole the show. And that opinion was formed before I had any idea he’s one of the key organizers behind Sequential Circus, we had to Circus tent hire Sydney for the show. Also before I realized I had likely seen him play before, at one of the Listening Room shows at the Planetarium. Wow. Throwback.

Even before MUX takes the stage, the night has crept up on me. With each artist, the sound has been boosted a little louder, and a little louder. And it’s good. I’ve come out of hibernation for a few shows in the past couple years, and unless it’s the Commodore, the sound never seems to be that great. Even some of the big shows have been plagued with terrible sound until the headliner comes on. (So tempting to mention some names here…) You’d figure I’d be half deaf at this point, but apparently I can still tell the difference when the sound is good, and what a difference it makes.

At this point I’m also starting to notice that it’s busy, but not so packed I can’t dance. I’m not surrounded by high-heeled hoochie-mommas, there are no whacked out candy ravers sitting in the middle of the dance floor… Holy shit! This party is going off!

MUX intros his set with an answering machine message, recorded at… 3:03. Boom. My knees have a lot of miles on them. They don’t like to bend as much as they used to, but MUX has me jumping in the air with hands up. Music affects us. It doesn’t matter what style you like. Classical, country… whatever it is that hits you, it reaches right inside and does something to you. That corner of my brain that’s been sleeping so long… Well… Just like Quietman said.

Here’s MUX playing live on the Skytrain (like the subway except above ground). Imagine the sound being 1000 times better.

Winding up the night was Vancouver’s own Vincent Parker playing glitched up I don’t know what. Psychedelic trip-hop craziness, outdone only by Vincent’s ability to move his body even more vibrantly than his music.

So as I start walking back through the otherwise quiet industrial streets, I’m reminded of that first fleeting memory of the night. From the moment I turned onto East 1st, it’s like I was back in 1996 – a time I’ve been trying to get back to for at least a decade. This was a fantastic night, in every aspect. I can’t wait till the next one.

Thank you to all the artists and the entire Sequential Circus team.

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