Went to see Chris Cunningham at the Royal Festival Hall. Man.
Well, I thought I was in for an experience. I told my girlfriend that she might not like it but it will be interesting. I was right!
The show started with a performance by Beak>. This was quite an understated affair with the band taking up a corner of the massive stage. Their music, a mixture of analogue electronic and instruments, created a sound that built throughout the performance so that a song would end up being something completely different from where it started. The singing was digitally processed to become another instrument in the performance.
On to Chris Cunningham. I've seen most of his previous work and enjoy the extreme nature of a lot of his videos. I found that most of the visuals of his previous work are very interconnected to the music as though the video was born from the music. His show music was written by himself or remixed, which seems to have given him free reign over the music that was in the show. So for this show, the visuals have driven the music.
This show was a hellish experience but was clearly meant to be one. I thought about walking out a few times just because I felt like I couldn't take it any longer. Some of the key moments were a naked man and woman viciously punching each other and drawing blood, woman dancing until all her intestines came flying out of her body and a child lying in bed and being cut open and dissected by an unseen force. These scenes can not really be explained in words. These were all timed to massive flashing lights, some incredibly violent noises that made up the music. In fact, at one point a light socket fell out of the roof due to the base of the music. It was a horrific experience that was far worse than any horror film I've ever seen. Saying that, I think that Chris Cunningham produced the result he desired from the experience.
The visions and violence shown was far more extreme than anything that he has produced before. Removing the constraints of creating a video for another artist allowed him to create an undiluted experience that has only briefly been seen in the nastier parts of his other work.
I can not say that I enjoyed the experience in any way other than leaving the hall and getting out into the beautiful streets of London. Everything seemed so much nicer after this show!
Well, it was an experience!