At previous Dots+Loops events, chief architect Kieran Welch has always spoken effusively of the post-genre aspirations of the series and its home city. But, it’s never quite come across in the finished product as brilliantly as with their most recent event, Feedback.
Whereas the brand’s previous 2019 event crammed excellent, challenging music into a somewhat unfriendly audience experience, Feedback offered a sublime balance of artistic innovation and inviting, engaging audience experiences. If one were ever pressed to showcase the unique charm and potential of Brisbane’s creative community in one event, Feedback would do nicely.
The layout of the venue itself was substantially different from their previous concert. Instead of feeling like an array of chairs simply pointed at a performer in an empty office space, Feedback had the audience comfortably ensconced in a quadraphonic sound field populated by a network of ancient VHS television sets, each connected to the multimedia shown for each performance.
The relatively unique setup, augmented by a number of plants littered throughout the space, automatically engendered a sense of DIY and community. Audience members were gently encouraged to connect with those around them and to explore the space and the sounds, even before the performances officially commenced.
That sense of open engagement was truly brought to life by the programming, which showcased works and artists that were experimental and intelligent – but undeniably playful, exploratory and human, as well. There was a novelty to many of the performances that, far from gimmickry, created a sense of curiosity and adventure for the audience.
The definitive example of this would be Helge Quartet’s rendition of Pamela Z’s Attention; a work so compellingly unpredictable that even technical problems forcing the quartet to play half of it twice did nothing to diminish its unique sense of delight. The work begins ordinarily enough but, by the end, performers are getting texted new corrections and sprawled over one cello.
It’s incredibly fun. But, in its own way, also quite evocative.
But, in truth, all the works on display walked a similar line. De facto headliner Todd Reynolds’ performance, for example, completely subverted any expectations one would typically have for a looping instrumentalist. Instead of the pensive, gradual escalation or shifting of tones traditionally associated with the form, it was something euphoric, shuddering and colourful.
With multimedia composition Odboy & Erordog (by Marcus Fjellström) and a new audiovisual work from Chris Perren, Melbourne’s visiting Rubiks Collective presented a mix of strange, alien poignancy and shimmering, beautiful humour. Perren’s work, for example, surrounds swirling footage of a car burning out with his typical prettiness. It’s even more hypnotic than his usual experiments.
Even the night’s starkest work, Alicia Jane’s Feed (performed by Helge Quartet), had an innate ingenuity and fascination to it that would have compelled even the most inexperienced or reluctant of audiences – with members of the quartet distributed to the four corners of the venue to offer echoing, shifting soundscapes more akin to electronic sound art than live instrumental music.
It was all simply so much fun, in a way that even more conventional performances often fail to deliver. True to Dots+Loops general aspirations, it was a performance that one could hopefully bring anyone to, safe in the knowledge that they would have an amazing experience.
MJ O’Neill attended Dots+Loops: Feedback on 27 September 2019. For more information about upcoming events by Dots+Loops see http://www.dotsandloops.com.au/events.html
Photography by Reuben Fenemore.