Bruce Levenstein recently posted this question on his Twitter account
so wait Diamanda Galas is the goth Tom Waits? 💀🎹
— Bruce Levenstein (@BruceLevenstein) March 25, 2018
It may seem puzzling at first (and some people even wrote it off as bad take), but her performance at Big Ears made us feel that Bruce might be onto something. Much of Diamanda’s performance (which took place at the Tennessee Theatre) consisted of songs from All the Way, a collection of blues/jazz standards (and one original) that came out last year on her own Intravenal Sound Operations imprint.
While her trademark shriek/demonic howl made appearance early on, she mostly stuck to more traditional singing occasionally veering into what could have been described as the sound of a witch putting hex on her victims.
Next day we paid a visit to Tennessee Theater again to catch a performance by Nief Norf (who double as ensemble and music organization) who performed their rendition of Steve Reich’s Quartets
Formed in 2005, Nief-Norf was created by Illinois natives Andrew Bliss and Kerry O’Brien, who took their ensemble’s name from a descriptor of strange sounds. Some say “bleep-blop”; they prefer “nief-norf.” During their undergraduate years as percussionists, the “nief-norf” moniker came to stand for any music that was experimental or weird.
While we missed their earlier live score/soundtrack collaboration with Wordless Music (due to Northeaster getting in the way), we had to catch up with Nief-Norf one way or another and we were glad we did – their work on Steve Reich’s piece proved to be rather beautiful/evocative!
Below we collected some of the tweets related to both Diamanda Galas and Nief Norf performances from fellow concertgoers
Diamanda Galas closes out Day 3 of the Big Ears Festival. pic.twitter.com/nLt1x6CvZ1
— Kreilly65 (@Kreilly65) March 25, 2018
— NewMusicBox (@newmusicbox) March 25, 2018
— Bret Saunders (@Bretontheradio) March 25, 2018
— Brianna Paciorka (@bpaciorka) March 25, 2018
#BigEarsKnox Diamanda Galás was remarkably beautiful to hear. Was great to see her for the first time after listening to her works for many years
— Fertanish (@fertanish) March 25, 2018
— Terrorbird Media (@TerrorbirdMedia) March 25, 2018
nief norf doing steve reich’s “quartet” @ Tennessee Theatre https://t.co/wxhfJN6sEt
— joel berk (@pfcidb) March 25, 2018
What a great weekend at @BigEarsFestival! Had the opportunity to work with @niefnorf and meet the artistic directors/composers of @bangonacan. AND I got to sleep on the floor and listen to hours of drones 🤟🏻
— Alex Ring Gray (@ThisIsAlexGray) March 26, 2018
— Wordless Music (@WordlessMusic) March 23, 2018