Concert Review: Tim Hecker @ The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), Toronto

Last night was the continuation of the popular 1st Thursday events at Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario. Catering to the 19+ crowd, the event mixes booze, food, art, and live music – what’s not to like? Well, besides the art (just kidding, art snobs!). We previously caught Basia Bulat at this event and it was a good time.

Tim Hecker headlined the event at the AGO. Instead of a traditional show, Tim Hecker played a live score to a film. Fantômas was the film, and it looked like it was filtered through night vision goggles. Either that, or the French film from 1913 was WAY ahead of it’s time, and actually filmed in colour. The room was darkish otherwise, and had some leftover ropes from the previous exhibit, which eerily look like the cover of Virgins (minus the sheet and body). Coincidence?

Tim Hecker at AGO

The music opened with organ like, deep sustained notes. After a few minutes, some static, grating sounds made their way into the mix. Those unfamiliar with Tim Hecker seemed uncomfortable at times with the sonic assault on their ears, with the waves of sounds not always melodic or harmonic. The first part ended slightly after the first part of the film, and clocked in at over 10 minutes.

The second musical piece started with annoying audience chatter (seriously folks, shut the eff up), and some lovely sounding piano. The piano grew louder, drowning out the crowd, and adding some crashing effects. This was a nicer piece and somewhat fit the mood of the dark film playing behind Hecker.

Like his studio work, its amazing where a song can end up over a slow and barely noticeable evolution after just a few minutes. The second piece was a perfect example of this.

As the song continued, more of the distorted and sustained sounds took to the forefront of Hecker’s sound collage, with droplets of other sounds providing a mix to the affairs.The second part ended after 15 minutes, and part three began with some deep bass sounds, morphing to sprinkles of frantic piano.

Snippets of Black Refractions seemed to be played, with a few piercing parts that didn’t do my ear drums any favours (and the people around me plugging their ears).

I love pretty much everything Tim Hecker has done in the past 6-8 years. In term of last night’s artistic endeavour, I liked the idea, but not so much the execution. The songs were good and often interesting, but not mind blowing, and a bit all over the map.

The music typically didn’t compliment the movie and vice versa. At times, I would’ve rather had a Windows screen saver as a visual, but maybe that’s the lack of artist in me. This is despite Hecker looking back at the screen behind him several times throughout his performance. In an interview with Noisey, Hecker spoke about the upcoming performance of last night’s movie and said “I’m going to try to turn down the projector, so that it’s barely visible and hopefully distort the image. Sound is often second fiddle to visuals so I’ll try to flip that around. I want to make it more about the sonic force and the physicality of the sensory experience.” With that context, the concert could probably be considered a success.

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PHM Rating for Tim Hecker: 7.0/10

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