Zoe Keating, Evanston S.P.A.C.E., 5/17/11

A friend of mine had an extra ticket to see Zoe Keating play at S.P.A.C.E. in Evanston last night. At first I dithered about whether to go or not; I wasn’t familiar with her music, and I just wasn’t sure if I would enjoy it. I’m glad I decided to take him up on the offer, though, because it was a beautiful experience.

Zoe Keating, if you don’t know (as I didn’t), is a cellist. Her music consists of loops and layers as she multitracks herself with a foot-controlled laptop computer. She might lay down a percussion track by plucking or by bouncing her bow on the strings, then play a bassline over that, and finally layer on melodies. Her pieces are evocative and can be stirring or moving or calming or any or all of the above.

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We had a table in the front row. I took this photo from my seat. On the left you can see the foot controller she uses, while the laptop is on the right. It was fascinating to watch her play and to try to figure out how the different pedals on the controller were changing the music.

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Front. Row.

Anyway, the show was about 90 minutes, during which she played maybe 10-12 pieces, including a cover of Muse’s Time Is Running Out, which she said she learned because she was hearing it everywhere and decided she needed to exorcise it by making it her own. (And she did it exceptionally well.)

S.P.A.C.E. (which stands for Society for the Preservation of Art & Culture in Evanston) is a terrific venue for this kind of show, too. It’s small enough to feel intimate (did you see how close I was to the artist?) without feeling cramped or jammed, even with a sold-out show like last night’s. Most of the seating was at small reserved tables facing the front of the stage, with a few rows of seats on either side, and some seating at the (well-stocked) bar, and SRO space at the back of the room. I’d say nobody was more than about 30 feet from the stage.

In sum, a good time was had by all. Zoe Keating: highly recommended.

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