It seems poor form to diminish the music that was performed at REDCAT last night by mentioning musicians in attendance who didn't actually get up onstage and play. Considering that last night's three-hour epic re-telling of Parallelograms, the 1970 folk rock album by Linda Perhacs, was filled with so much inspiration and wonder, why lead with two Frenchman and their entourage, never seen but acknowledged by Perhacs during a break? But such is the way of the Interweb: scream “Daft Punk in LA!” and everyone freaks.
Between songs at Linda Perhacs first-ever performance of music from Parallelograms, during one of her many inspiring, totally endearing between-song monologues, she thanked Daft Punk for including her “If You Were My Man” in their film Electroma. She then said that DP and about fifteen of their friends were in the audience. A big round of applause ensued, of course. (We actually never saw them, which is probably just as well.)
There were many spine-tingling notes and voices at REDCAT, one that reinforces the idea that Perhacs identified in her introduction: community breeds creativity; many minds are better than one. The evening, curated by the Dublab music collective and Jessica Hundley's Draw Pictures, gathered together a wide array of Los Angeles folk artists (both acoustic and electronic versions). Those performing included a We Are the World, Tom Brosseau (singing into a wine glass to create a strange little echo effect), Julia Holter, Crystal Antlers, Ariana Delwari, Hecuba, Rio En Medio, and LA Ladies Choir.
But it wasn't just about music. It was as much about visions, and spirit, and the intermingling of the senses.
Perhacs began with a long presentation on early 20th century artist Annie Besant, whose book, Thought Forms, Perhacs explained, was a key influence on Parallelograms. Besant had visions of music as it emanated from church services, and her remarkable, surreal drawings depict a church with colorful patterns erupting into the sky.
Music took physical forms, as well, as Ryan Heffington choreographed a number of pieces for the evening. In one, ghostly creatures spun and swirled in the dark. In another, dancers created a flowing wave with their bodies.
And then there were the films — uniformly gorgeous abstractions created by a host of experimental film makers: Maximilla Lukacs, Alia Penner, Matt Amato, Brian Close, Kelly Sears, Jessica Hundley, Daft Punk, Andrea Fellers, Hecuba, and Nicole McDonald.
What was most clear after the evening ended was that Linda Perhacs' original ideas, which combined pretty Topanga folk songs with tape loops, layered vocals and a spirit of invention that was absent from much of the more traditional and precious folk of that era, have reverberated with new generation of musicians. Folk music, Perhacs seemed to argue on Parallelograms, is folk music regardless of the instrumentation. Any sound, be it manipulated or not, is equally pure. You could see it in Doi Todd's stunning acoustic performance; you could hear it in Tom Brosseau's a capella; it was there in Julia Holter's washes of digital sound, and Crystal Antlers' spooky, echoed rock, and Rio En Medio's synthetic meditation.
That spirit was most present in Perhacs' renditions. Her version of the title-track, which she performed with a band and three female backup singers, was as all-consuming and luxurious as on the album, and “Chimacum Rain” brought tears to my eyes, it was so beautiful. The whole night felt that way, actually. Filled with joy and enthusiasm and a real vibe of friendship. (And Daft Punk was there.)