This past Friday I decided on a whim to just get out and check out the monthly Gate To Moonbase Alpha (GTMBA) experimental, ambient, and electronic music night at the Rotunda. I’ve been there once before, two summers ago, and was pleasantly surprised by the variety and vitality of the performing artists, the quality of the music, and the extremely chill atmosphere of the event. I liked what I heard so much that I bought all the CDs that were being sold there, and it was well worth it—not only because $10 CDs at concerts are cheap and directly benefit the artists, but also because I discovered my favorite song of all time (so far, that is) on one of those random albums (“Trinity” on Adam Johnson‘s debut album Chigliak). It was quite an experience, and it renewed my interest in electronic music more than ever.
This time around, the night was as chill as before, and the artists just as intriguing and talented as before, yet vastly different. That is one of the coolest things about GTMBA and the experimental/underground music scenes in general—especially when compared to the lifeless, canned, and repetitive bilge that constitutes “popular” music today, this stuff and other fringe and niche genres like it are verdantly, vibrantly creative, not to mention interesting, enjoyable, and thought-provoking.
The most fascinating part of the night, though, was my first experience of The Great Quentini‘s performance art. He came out twice, doing various spoken-word, prop acting, found-sound music, and comedic acts. I had no idea what to make of him on his first appearance, as he performed the miracle of popping popcorn. I played along with confused patience until the next act (Ace Paradise) comforted me with a much more familiar and expected one-man ambient electronica set that was actually quite relaxing and immersive.
But then The Great Quentini returned, and, now in a more receptive state of mind, I soon realized that I was being entertained by a true rarity today: a holistic performer with multiple artistic talents, refreshing ingenuity, and a disarming comedic flair who had the audience deeply involved and invested in his performance, making us laugh out loud, applaud with awe, and deeply ponder his messages and meanderings all at once. He challenged our societally atrophied ears with a novel, avant-garde keyboard performance and he engaged our eyes with elaborate and original costumery and numerous props.
Most of all, though, he broadened our minds with tongue-in-cheek yet profound spoken segments about the religious superiority of gravity, and the “special purpose” that each of us has in life, and he closed with a soundly amusing and eye-opening segment about the rule of plastic today, intermixing found-sound music and dialogue with some old toys….
…But I don’t want to give away too much detail, since,
A) I’d encourage you to be on constant lookout for future performances by The Great Quentini, to go, enjoy, and see for yourselves, and also
B) things like this can never be fully brought to life with language or writing—words are merely abstract representations and are always open to the vagaries of subjective interpretation.
This leads me to my closing point:
Truly original creativity, as well as truly great art, (both embodied in the performances of The Great Quentini), are disappointingly and disproportionately lacking in the world today. Why is it that people are so drawn to complete unoriginality and lack of inspiration? Is it laziness? The fear of leaving the comfortable yet stagnant mental spaces we each create? Or maybe it’s our unconscious desire to converge on societal norms, rushing like lemmings willy-nilly to our own intellectual destruction in the seas of banality; drowning in a deluge of force-fed fad, fashion, and popular media graciously provided by monopolistic, monolithic corporations….
Or maybe none of this matters at all. Whatever. I had fun.
Until next time, dare to think a new thought!