One of the nice things about the Town Hall Reopening Festival is how it manages to be representative of the city and inclusive without pandering to some tedious lowest common denominators by giving some of the smaller, more adventurous promoters the opportunity to use the platform alongside “the establishment”. The involvement of Soweto Kinch as an associate artist and Punch Records is notable, as is that of Capsule. Being someone who’s firmly in Capsule’s demographic I’ve got tickets for the Pram / Modified Toy Orchestra / Shady Bard concert (it feels wrong to call it a gig for some reason) on Monday and when I picked them last week I asked how they were selling. Nearly all gone apparently, which is great for acts that would normally play the Medicine Bar or Barfly.
I think there’s something more to this though. I picked up on it at the Binary Oppositions launch the other week (that link is to the 4Talent review – worth reading) where it seemed like everyone from a specific but still undefinable segment of Birmingham’s arts community was in one place. The art and music connected to the event was important, of course, but it also stood as a banner for people to gather around. A focal point marking what had happened, was happening and providing an environment for what might happen to germinate. I certainly came away with my brain buzzing (evidenced by a rambling 3,000 word essay written that night which will never see the light of day).
These Town Hall events, while ostensibly there to celebrate the venue, are celebrating, and enabling, much more. Certainly to the outsider they showcase aspects of Birmingham’s creativity is a professional, high profile way but they also do something for the participants in those scenes. To put it bluntly, when Pram and MTO get on stage I’ll feel like a small part of me is up there too and on my terms. Sure, this is an emotional, subjective thing but it’s important and I’d hope will apply to all the other reopening shows.
According to the THSH site there are still tickets available. Here’s Capsule’s blurb:
Bringing together two of Birminghamâ€™s leading lights of the experimental music scene Pram, crafting fairytales from concrete reality, Pram mix a myriad of instruments with loops and samples to create gently chaotic rhythms, and Modified Toy Orchestra who use their circuit bending powers to create perfect pop songs from imperfect toy instruments. Joined by Static Caravans latest signing Shady Bard, a miniature indie orchestra of pianos, guitars, casiotones, violin, cello, French horn and samples, which burst occasionally into catastrophic scuzz.
And as I’ve implied, the before and after show drinks will be a key part of the occasion.