How serendipitous! I was supposed to be to work yesterday at 11 AM but showed up at 4 PM instead. Whoops. But hey, night off! Right? I still had time to catch Steve Norton's show at Weirdo Records. Which, if you've never been, is a TINY place. Like, the size of a large walk-in closet. And that's not counting all the CD racks and such. Luckily, including Norton, me, and two employees, there were only 6 people. So not exactly cramped but not too roomy either. But these are the best kinda shows.
So Steve's forte is reed instruments along with some strange percussion and bird call things. He started with some tin can rattling, shaking everything between two drumsticks like he had Parkinson's and was trying to use chopsticks to eat his food. Then he moved onto the saxophones (alto and soprano) which made me feel like I had teleported into some strange future where classic instruments could be played backwards. I don't know what he did but he is able to make the sax sound like it's being slowly rewound on a cassette tape. So bizarre.
In between each reed instrument, he would do some haphazard percussion, such as when he emptied a box of tiny wood panels and tin can lids on the floor, throwing them around, organizing and reorganizing over and over again, like he had OCD. But every little sound mattered, including dragging the things back that went flying across the floor, scraping them along the wood floor, or putting the instruments down on their stands. Everything had this kind of premeditated feeling while still being completely improvised as if he had an insanely fast brain that would see something and know exactly what to do to make it sound perfect.
And he saved the best for last. The bass clarinet. Man, the things he can do with that clarinet are fucking astounding. I have never heard a reed/brass/woodwind instrument be played so differently than it was meant to, including Greg Kelley's trumpet. I'm pretty sure he was circular breathing at times. And he could make it sound like a didgeridoo without repositioning his fingers. It was all in his throat and it was the most amazing thing ever. Sometimes it didn't even sound like a clarinet, sometimes it just sounded like some tight snare drums. Other times it sounded like it had a filter of static. I have no idea how he did any of those things but trust me this guy is totally worth seeing live.