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Photos / Live Review: Celebration, Lone Wolf, Ami Dang @ the Windup Space (2009.02.20)

There’s an old, bittersweet saying that goes something along the lines of this: “You can never go home again.”

I’d like to submit an exception to that statement: “…unless you call Baltimore home.”

This past Friday, the Windup Space’s recently constructed stage was adorned not unlike someone’s living room, with antiqueish/kitschy decor such as Buddha lamps.  The warm yellow glow of incandescent bulbs cast a much warmer light than the typically harsh stage lights.  The room was nicely filled before Ami Dang took the stage, and things felt cozy.

Dang’s blend of traditional Indian sitar and classical singing with experimental electronics grows more effective with each successive performance.  Her voice ranges from subtle and sublime to massive and nearly overwhelming in power.  The intimate nature of her performance requires rapt attentiveness for full-effect, and in that the crowd failed.  A large din of chatter often broke into Dang’s delicately crafted silences; but these distractions quickly fell away whenever Dang let loose her vocals.  I’m convinced that given the right amping, Dang could obliterate buildings with them.

Lone Wolf was a rather chaotic drum/vocal one-man act (backed by sax) that was too discombobulated for me to follow.   I may have prematurely written them off, but I found myself supremely disinterested.

Celebration, on the other hand, struck with the orchestrated fury of a tsunami, combining equal parts wild-eyed frenzy, atmospheric experimentalism and soulful pop leanings.  Their last performance in Baltimore was months ago, and it showed in the earnestness of their performance.  They hadn’t really left Baltimore, but it felt like a triumphant homecoming nonetheless.  A projected flickring fire on the back wall, warmly welcoming and complementing the homeyness of the decor and the gentle, wafting scent of some sort of wood incense in the air.  

The nature of Celebration’s primal pop is such that it envelopes you in its feral folds; rather than coming off as some foreign, distant spectacle, there is an allure, a warmth that emanates from Celebration that draws you into their music and performance.  This was magnified tenfold by the cozy trappings of the space.  As things often tend to go in Baltimore, the mood at the Windup swiftly became one of old friends reunited, the time that had passed becoming a brief footnote in a long-standing and deep fraternity, united by a common bond: love of music.

Ami Dang

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