What happens when you give a bunch of avant-garde, experimental musicians whose work is typically confined to living rooms and contemporary gallery spaces an hour of free rein at one of Indy’s most prominent public spaces? Stop by Monument Circle at 6 p.m. on Mondays to find out.
The onset of the workweek brings a bit of routine and the launch of themed days as part of Spark Monument Circle. Until mid-October, Mondays will consist of “Mellow Mondays” which are designed to “encourage low-tech, relaxing experiences.”
Local musician and artist John Flannelly will curate musical performances in connection with Big Car’s Listen Hear initiative to close out Mellow Mondays. For Spark Monument Circle, Flannelly was given broad guidelines. The Listen Hear contribution, which will take place from 6 p.m. until 7 p.m. on Monday evenings, will feature hour-long performances from Indiana artists. It will focus on experimental music, and generally leans toward more ambient, longform pieces. “A lot of musicians who are playing generally don’t get the opportunity to play for an hour,” Flannelly says. “So, they’re kind of stretching out some things or trying different things.”
Duncan Kissinger will be the first experimental musician to take the stage at Monument Circle this evening. Kissinger initially made a splash on Indy’s music scene while still in high school as the guitarist in celebrated rock band Hotfox. Since those early days, Kissinger’s sound has leaned toward the more experimental, outsider or fringe side of things. This change in direction first surfaced under the name of Skin Conditions, a project with a deep catalog (given its short lifespan) of bedroom recordings available via Indiana music archive Musical Family Tree. Skin Conditions underwent several iterations, including a full backing band at different points in time. More recently, Kissinger has recorded and performed solo under his given name.
“When you think about Duncan’s music,” Flannelly says, “he does a lot of different modes: guitar and singing, every once in a while he’ll whip out a keyboard and do something more spacey. He’s someone who likes to try out different things.”
Kissinger’s idea for his Monument Circle performance came to him as he was drifting to sleep on a recent evening. “It came to me that I should get a bunch of fans – like fans that cool cool a room, not that are supportive of a team or something,” Kissinger laughs. “I’m going to get a bunch of fans in a configuration of a live band … I’m going to have them mic’d and I think I might run them through some effects, but I’m going to just be the sound guy for that. I’m going to work a mixer in a choir robe, because [Flannelly] said it has to be an hour and it has to be an ambient set. So, I was like what’s a better ambient instrument than fans, you know? Plus it’s probably going to be hotter than Hell.”
Flannelly is anxious to bring these experimental sounds from the relatively sequestered spaces of music venues and the bedroom to a historic stage as prominent as any in the city. “Most live music, just by circumstance of the venue is going to be kind of hidden away,” Flannelly says. “It’s in a building with a cover, possibly. Or it’s in a house where not everybody knows about it. That’s even more true of the experimental side of things. So, I think it’s awesome. You never know how a wide audience will react to these things in general.”
Kissinger echoed that sentiment, saying, “The Listen Hear opportunity on the circle is really great, because that’s some weird, heady, out-there stuff … It’s going to be a really fun dynamic, especially with all of the other people that are doing the Monday sets. I know a lot of them. We’re all weirdos. I’m excited to watch everyone fly their freak flag in the middle of downtown.”
Listen Hear Performance Schedule:
- August 3: Duncan Kissinger
- August 10: Jim Walker
- August 17: Rob Funkhouser
- August 24: John Flannelly
- August 31: Landon Caldwell
- September 7: [No performance on Labor day]
- September 14: Teen Brigade
- September 21: Drekka
- September 28: Sommer
- October 5: Kaiton Slusher / Levi Villines
- October 12: Sedcairn Archives
Listen Hear is an ongoing sound-art project that Big Car launched in 2014. The fundamental purposes of Listen Hear are to (1) highlight sound as a material in art while bringing people together to enjoy this, (2) give focus to the importance of our daily soundscape, (3) engage new listeners with tools and techniques related to deep listening, (4) provide opportunities to new and uninitiated audiences to experience sound as art.
Stay up-to-date on Listen Hear’s contribution to Spark Monument Circle via Facebook.