The division of the stage in perfect thirds. The drummer, the singer, and the instrumentalist. A beat, a voice, a sound. Musical and aesthetic symmetry.
The vocalist asserts the composer and meaning of the piece to us, her audience. She sports golden triangles on her ears and cocks her swan neck, with elegance but with the purpose of looking out for her ducklings. She seems old and practiced, much like Buddha whose stance she’s taken. It’s only the peach fuzz on her cheeks that reveal her youth. Then she began to sing.
Her soprano voice blended with the hum of the tambura and magically chimed notes that warmed the ears as the chai being sipped did the lips, synesthesia of a sort. My unfamiliarity with Carnatic music is such that I’m not sure where my ignorance ends and begins. However listening to her sing was like being dunked in cold water and not being able to breadth…but in a good way.
I see the scraggily violinist who assumes an unyielding look. And I can’t help remembering the years of being dragged to Kathak practice. Did these performers being as young as they were, enjoy or even recognize the joy that could be taken from their performance?
When my friend sang, I looked for the pit perspiration that has always accompanied my performances but all I could see was uniform, undamped fabric. He wasn’t nervous. And he didn’t have to be. Because the performance was an embrace between equals where one welcomes you into their home and heart and expects you to love and appreciate what they have to show.
Later the same day, I went to the Fox to see the artist, Flying Lotus. On the screen, a man marches with his head raised while defiant lyrics wallop from speakers, causing the unshakeable feeling you are in some sort of cult. When the music began we all jumped up and down and I was reminded of sifting sand and wondered what would be left in our sieve.
With Flying Lotus, each song has so many different layers. And each slice can be heard and evokes a particular feeling/memory and thus you are able to live through so many different moments all at the same time, it’s a lifetime in a musical measure.
I thought it was strange how solemn the audience members were at both concerts. However, it was because the feelings were within and shared: you didn’t need to smear a cheap grin on your face to savor these moments.