The kick-off of Wrong Wave Festival 2022 opened with a distorted saxophone. I went by myself, and brought my book to keep me company, but then that feeling of what the fuck am i doing here …. i am so dum……i am not artist…started to hit. Despite it all, the distorted microphone helped me calm down — as music often does.
Symphony of Fire is an experimental music and video festival created by Andrea Lukic who sat in row five. They narrated the event in between films in groups of threes. All submissions were shown in order of file name. I wrote my notes in the dark, but from the illegible, came: “munching on mushrooms,” “a close-up of a caveman” “everyone dies in my castle,” and “The Logical Song,” which I decorated with underlines, overlines… even a little heart. My favourite scribble of the evening was: “forgive, goat-billy.”
Every so often you could hear people witnessing their work on-screen. A squeal, a gasp, a crescent glance over seats to see who was watching. The theatrics that whisper in cinemas, in front of a silvery screen. That lovely sense that the screen is a silver mirror which becomes a plate the whole room can eat off of. People filtered in and out between breaks. I left after the two-hour mark, knowing the festivities were only beginning as the Wrong Wave Festival, host festival to Symphony of Fire, itself runs from July 5th to the 31st.
Symphony of Fire is a genre-less festival which accepts applicants of all backgrounds, skill-level, fame, notoriety or anonymity — local and international. If it’s a video, and there’s music, it’s accepted. They stated that they will make room for those who make room for others — so racist, sexist, ableist, homo/bi/queer trans-phobic etc. videos were unwelcome. Another request was that all music videos screened had to be new, and previously unscreened to a mass audience.
Which brings me to my last scribble from July 5th, Symphony of Fire: “wooden sticks for the brave.” If you’ve never been to the symphony, I’ll try to explain.
It’s held in a convex hall, where gold-rimmed walls push the music outwards to meet you at your seat. One by one, musicians carrying wooden sticks will sit down and begin to rub them together. Percussionists use pebbles and matches. Strings tie and brass rattles. Sparks emerge. Trumpeteers blow bubbles as woodwinds watch and sigh at reeds. The cellists use walking sticks. The room warms up as the light begins to dim, red flames emerge, the symphony begins.
And the audience applauds. Because it’s the work that’s half-finished, the thoughts abandoned and the songs still being written that Symphony of Fire reminds us is still worth seeing. And, more often than not, the coolest stuff out there hasn’t been put out yet. So light those matches, rub those sticks you’ve got hidden in that cupboard somewhere and see what sparks something. It’s showtime, baby.