Musically, the goal of the live show is to more or less remix the exisitng material, presenting it in a way that's familiar but also different. In other words, if you've heard "Fellow Prisoners", you'll recognize the songs. But they won't be the same songs exactly. Some are structurally similar to the album version, some are not.
There are a few reasons I'm taking this approach. One is to make the set a different experience from the CD. That's hardly a new concept, lots of bands do that. But it also gives me a chance to exorcise a few demons. For example, some of the material on "Fellow Prisoners" is pretty old. "Wellington" for example dates back to 1998. I'd like to think I've evolved a little since then, so the approach to "Wellington" is different live. Also, there are elements of some songs on "Fellow Prisoners" that tend to make me wince, hearing them now. So those elements go away. And, in the process of translating the songs to a live context, some new ideas come up that seem worth exploring.
In a nutshell, I'm shooting for: different enough to be interesting to those who already know the album. And interesting to anyone hearing the material for the first time.
One of the challenges for ARF live is creating an onstage keyboard setup that's flexible and reliable. I've never been one to trust computers - especially on stage. But for this show, (and for the first time in my experience) the majority of sound will eminate from PCs. This means using, among other things, a number of software-based synths and samplers. Trying to make these all work -and- be reliable is a little tricky. But I think we're getting there.
The benefit to doing it this way is that the show becomes a lot more flexible - it'll be possible to include more improvisational elements than you might typically expect from electronic music. I suppose that initially the differences between performances won't be dramatic, but as ARF Live gets its sea legs so to speak, it should be possible to make the improv element more and more central to the show.
We've come across a lot of obstacles trying to get the lighting and video aspects of the show to come together. There are a lot of reasons why, but the major one has to do with some unfortunate equipment choices. To make a long story short, I made some fairly naive choices in selecting lighting equipment at the beginning of this whole process. Hey, what can I say - I'm not a lighting guy. So much for DIY.
Fortunately, Lighting Guru/Man-About-Town Chris Randall was kind enough to set me straight on what did and did not constitute appropriate lighting gear.
Unfortunately, that meant taking several steps backwards in terms of putting things together. When you replace lights, the programming for the lights changes. So that means more work for Van (luckily he's a glutton for punishment). Also, actually locating the right lights for the job proved to be an oddly drawn-out process for some reason. The two biggest lights we're using don't arrive until today. There are a few other factors that have been slowing things down, but I'll spare everyone the details - it's pretty boring.
In any event, things have progressed more slowly than we would have liked. But they're progressing all the same. My expectation at this point is that we'll have our shit more or less together in about a month - and be ready to play shows. I'm hoping we won't let these problems take too much time away from the music (oh right, I knew there was -something- that was supposed to go with that light show). As Chris pointed out to me, "No one goes home humming the light show."
As things come together I plan to post more video clips so you can get a general idea of what we're trying to do.
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