Tuesday, June 30, 2009

VOLTAIC, a Trylon preview

Perhaps it's a testament to how boring my life is, but there is nothing more exciting to me right now than the introduction of the Trylon Microcinema to the Twin Cities film scene. Birthed and groomed by Take-Up Production's Barry Kryshka, the Trylon offers something totally new for the cinema goer. A cinema on a small scale, it combines the best components of you local theater and the intimacy and comfort of your own home. The 50 plus seat space has two 35mm film projectors, one of the best digital setups in town, and plush rocker seats that are way more comfortable than my sofa. Last Wednesday the Trylon opened its doors to the public for the first time for an early Sound Unseen selection. Bjork fans, some unwittingly, got a sneak peak of the Trylon for a screening of Voltaic: The Volta Tour Live in Paris and Reykjavik. I love Bjork, but the star of the evening was the Twin Cities new microcinema.

The Trylon is located in the building on the northwest corner of 33rd Street and Minnehaha Avenue in south Minneapolis. Signage was one thing missing, so I was glad to see posters in the front window on the Minnehaha side—with the promise that there will be a more permanent sign soon—but I was even more thrilled to round the corner on the 33rd Street side, past the fish mural, and see the "Trylon Microcinema" mega-sign being painted on the wall right at that moment. Further proof that the Trylon is here to stay.

The interior of the space has undergone a major transformation. From a bare-bones space a few months ago, the Trylon has been built from scratch into a very respectable screening room. A platform was built, enclosing the two behemoth projectors, and a terraced floor for the fantastic seats that were procured from the Waconia 6. Although there are still some finishing touches to be done in the next couple of weeks, the change has been pretty incredible. Even though I was helping screw down rows two and three just a few days before the Voltaic screening, walking into the space with appropriate cinema lighting and the hub-bub of fellow patrons filling the room made me pretty giddy. I wanted to turn to all my fellow rocker-chair neighbors and introduce myself by way of enjoying the communal experience. But I didn't. I calmed down and decided not to creep everyone out.

Before <--------> After

Bjork has never come to Minneapolis, so Voltaic at the Trylon seemed like the second best option. (The closest I have ever come to a Bjork concert is when the Sugarcubes opened for PIL in Kansas City back in the day.) The program was presented by Sound Unseen, gearing up for their 10th edition this Fall. The bulk of the film was a complete live concert in Paris. She was accompanied on stage by a drummer, a keyboardist, two gadget guys (with very cool gadgets) and—the icing on the cake—a ten piece all female horn section! The trumpets, trombones, french horns and tuba added a dimension to the electronic music-making that was pretty impressive. She played songs spanning from Post to Volta. I was disappointed that she didn't play anything from Debut, and was also kind of waiting for "Oceanic" which would have been awesome with the horns, but whatever. Voltaic made me realize how long it had been since I listened to any Bjork and how much I love her music. I was incredibly jealous of the people in the crowd, dancing and singing aloud, doing all the the things that might get me kicked out of the Trylon on my first visit. But then I contemplated, gently rocking in my seat, just how expensive a ticket to see Bjork would be and then further contemplated just how expensive a ticket to see Bjork would be in Paris, and decided I was content with the 8 bucks I spend on my ticket and the dollar I spent on my soda.

Seeing Bjork perform is the draw, and a concert video should provide you with the best seat in the house. The frenetic editing, however, made me feel like I was watching the concert from a roller coaster. I was desperately trying to count how many horns there were on stage, but the camera would move or the shot would cut to another shot before I could count to ten. Someone in the editing room decided that if the music got really crazy, so should the editing. As if the various outfits weren't jarring enough, you had to deal with constantly being unable to focus on anything. The concert turned political with her encore of "Declare Independence" as much of the audience waving Tibetan flags. I couldn't help but wonder how much of that was staged. I would be glad to wave a Tibetan flag, but I don't exactly keep on in my pocket.

Post Paris romp was an excerpt from a much more subdued concert held in a church in Reykjavik. The ambiance and acoustics couldn't have been more different from the full-on production in Paris. Audience members stayed in there chairs, politely clapping when the song was fully over. Bjork also sported a more matronly look, staying very serious for the performance. Backed once again by her horn section, but also adding a chorus and a harpsichord to mix. The Reykjavik show offered an interesting contrast that reminded me of the beautifully staged Sigur Rós concerts in Heima. No screaming fans, just fellow countrymen sitting down to enjoy their cultural icons.

Bjork + Trylon = true love? Almost. Voltaic was screened from a DVD, and even though it looked great, I can't wait to hear the hum of those projectors. The Trylon is building up to its grand opening in July when six Buster Keaton films will be screened over three weekends starting July 17. All films will be accompanied with live music from the Dreamland Faces on accordion and singing saw. Excited? Hell yeah! And so are other people. The first screening is almost sold out, so buy your tickets soon!


joe said...

despite the fact that my attendance thus far is lackluster at best, I can't say how excited i am for Trylon. I think it's just the thing the twins need. It looks amazing!

Also, I believe Bjork played First Avenue many years ago. It was before I was living up here, but I recall considering making the drive up. (I also literally almost ran into her when the new Walker building opened up in 2005. That was weird.) Can you imagine seeing her at First Ave? Wow.

I saw that same tour with the Sugarcubes and PiL. In Milwaukee New Order and the Violent Femmes (headlined?!?) played too. kinda crazy.

Kathie Smith said...

Was she squirting water from a sort of water gun belt buckle at that Sugarcubes show?

You are probably right about her playing First Ave. I just want to pretend she never played here otherwise I would be admitting that I missed it....

We'll see you at the Buster Keaton series, no? Film Goats will probably be congregating at the Town Talk sometime on the 17th. I'm super excited!

Daniel Getahun said...

I really can't believe how much the space was transformed, and I'm saying that as somebody who never saw it to begin with. I can't imagine the hours you and Barry and others have spent putting stuff together there. I thought it looked really great when I saw it two weeks ago, so I can only imagine what's been done in the meantime.

Got my tickets for 7:00 PM on Friday and looking forward to it!

joetron2030 said...

Yeah, it's kind of a bummer that she hasn't played here more recently. When she toured for "Vespertine", I ended up paying a ticket broker for floor seats to see her play at the Chicago Lyric Opera House. Made a weekend of it and stopped in Madison to visit friends who had just returned from their honeymoon and then poshed it up in Chicago. It was worth the cost.

I'll have to keep an eye on the schedule for Trylon. Great to see a space like that here in town. Hopefully, I'll be able to show real support by attending a screening in the future!