The rock ’n’ roll performance as we once knew it is dead.
Blame it on MTV and manically paced music videos. Blame it on a generation diagnosed with a cornucopia of attention disorders. Blame it on friggin’ Rock Band. The day when performers simply stand onstage and play their instruments is going the way of the dodo.
At one time, only popular touring acts with egos to match their bankrolls could stage light shows, choreographed dancers, and syncopated pyrotechnics, charging exorbitant amounts for a ticket (ahem, Madonna and U2). Now, due to cheaper gear and a revitalized DIY attitude, smaller bands that play to modest club-sized audiences can get in on the action, incorporating complex, multimedia artwork into concerts, creating original and fascinating visual spectacles.
San Antonio music fans get their chance to see art and music combine for A Wicked Christmas at Limelight Saturday, December 13. The show features Blowing Trees and the Noise Revival Orchestra Experience along with traditional and digital artists collaborating with their sets.
Austin’s 13-piece Noise Revival Orchestra Experience asked members of ArtSlam!, a local collective that stages San Antonio multimedia events, to create Christmas-themed works as the band plays. It’s part of the band’s experimentation with its bigger-than-life persona, which has previously resulted in the band giving performances dressed as pirates, guests at a masquerade ball, and perhaps for this event, naughty elves.
“People are just trying to expand and test their artistic capabilities,” says Nathan Felix, founding member of the Noise Revival Orchestra Experience. “I know for me, I’ve been really bored by music the last three or four years. Don’t get me wrong; there’s a lot of great music out there, but I feel like I want more than just going to a show and not getting any curveballs.”
The affordability and accessibility of equipment is a big reason for the merging of the two worlds. Diego Chavez is a San Antonio-based digital graphic artist and music producer who works on art projects with Blowing Trees and under his own moniker, Aether. His tool of choice is the user-friendly Mac software Final Cut Pro, which enables him to splice graphics and film clips onto DVD, to be run through video projectors. Blowing Trees plans to exhibit his work at A Wicked Christmas.
“They say movies are 60 percent visual and 40 percent audio,” Chavez says. “Those two mediums have always worked so well together. You can sync up the images, look at them, and all of a sudden you have the music. It totally changes the atmosphere and mood that you’re trying to get across.”
ArtSlam!, founded by Robert Perez, now features more than a dozen members creating art at regularly planned events, each one with a different theme and genre, whether it’s hip-hop MCs, DJs, or alt-rock acts. The various artists create mixed-media pieces while live acts perform, completing several works by the end of the night.
“I think it’s more for your money,” Perez says. “It’s like, ‘Yeah, I saw that band last time.’ ‘But no, did you see them with four artists onstage?’ Each show would be a lot different. You might have the same songs, but you’re going to have a totally different experience.”
The melding of the visual and audio mediums makes for an all-encompassing, sometimes mind-blowing experience.
“It totally helps out with the live performances,” Chavez says. “People love the visuals. It brings people to the reality of your setting, the environment you want to set up in a show.” •
A Wicked Christmas
Feat. Noise Revival Orchestra Experience,
Blowing Trees, and ArtSlam! members
10pm Sat, Dec. 13
2718 North Saint Mary’s