I love the concept of the Take Away Shows by La Blogotheque: Some of the most well-known and successful musicians in the world performing stripped down, acoustic and personal versions of their songs in and around some of the world’s great cities.
In a sense, it gets to the heart of art, it removes the artifice that so often accompanies commercially successful artistic endeavors. There are moments of true, astonishing, beauty; when a musician connects with his audience, an audience that moments before was unaware that a performance is about to occur.
And there are moments touched with a tinge of melancholy as well. At the heart of the endeavor, I believe, is this subtle challenge to the modern mindset of disconnect. We consciously and unconsciously withdraw ourselves from our surroundings. Most obviously when we are commuting and traveling, but not only then. We manufacture these contained pockets of space, and rarely breach them.
Those moments that demonstrate the disconnect offer a challenge. A world-class musician sitting on a street bench performing acoustically, just them and a guitar, a song that almost any pedestrian around would have paid to hear, is ignored. Or at least, not given more than a cursory glance, a flick of the eyes as they pass. But, even in those moments there is an elegance found. The artist doesn’t care. They’re lost in the music, performing for themselves, being lost in their creation. It raises a long-overlooked question: For whom does an artist really perform?
It’s a question that challenges all creative endeavors. And reminds that art cannot ever truly be separated from people.
I mentioned it briefly earlier, but what I love most about these performances is that they strip away the commercialization that has become too prevalent in art. We forget, but art is more than whatever minor monetary value is placed on it. Art is about expression, not only of a person and their ‘feelings’, but on a social level. It has to reflect the moods and moments of a culture, of a people, to truly resonate. Sans that, we are left with something approaching vapidity. Art, at its core, is an argument; it’s a debate and discussion, a relationship, between the artist and his audience. I fear that is sometimes forgotten in the mad dash to create what others may appreciate.
The performance above is Aloe Blacc singing an impromptu performance in a restaurant. The performance page can be found here. I highly recommend checking out the full list of performances at La Blogotheque. It’s an incredibly eclectic and diverse group of performers that includes Phoenix, Bon Iver, Josh Rouse, Noah and the Whale, Wilco, I’m From Barcelona, White Rabbits, Sigur Ros and others. And by others I do mean some of the best musicians in the world.