For close to a year, the Toast Collective has been home to Vancouver’s worst-kept secret in musically-related spoken word and performance art — Records and Readings.
Host Andy Resto — current host of CiTR’s Shindig battle of the bands — says Records and Readings grew out of an idea he and a friend had of starting a discussion group about records, beginning with Scott Walker’s album Tilt. Taking a slight turn from the original idea, the Records and Readings series began in January with prose and poetry performances reflexively responding to the accompanying music. Since then, it has grown into something of an “interdisciplinary performance night.”
Perhaps more so than previous instalments of the series, Records and Readings IV saw a diversity of performance genres and topics showcased that night. Dan Geddes, poet and erstwhile member of the band Peace, opened the night with his characteristically meandering prose poetry. Reminiscent in form and content of the lyrics he has written for Peace and his solo project Lt. Frank Dickens, his poetry explored lovesickness, the quotidian, the liminal space between languor and contentment, often set in a specifically West Coast backdrop.
Noted local saxophonist Ridley Bishop came soon afterwards. Telling the audience about how his abortive attempts at writing fiction led him to Toshimaru Nakamura’s No-Input Mixing Board, Bishop explained his new-found appreciation of noise music. Then, Bishop treated everyone to a piece that he had made in the style of Nakamura, on his very own no-input mixing board and pedals.
Following Bishop’s inspiring workshop on noise music and the creative process was a monologue by Sydney Thorne on Chuck Mangione’s ‘70s jazz-pop hit “Feels So Good.” It touched on young love in the early days of social media, the fragility of expectation and opinions on certain works by Mike Judge, namely King of the Hill. Its emotional peaks and troughs were set to Mangione’s album of the same name, making it a light-hearted but moving performance.
Closing off the night in a more impressionistic vein was a multimedia piece loosely based on Lana Del Rey’s “Ride.” Musician and slam poetry champion Barbara Adler was joined by bassist James Meger, who worked on the video piece accompanying Adler’s readings. Adler and Meger’s performance was also based on Mermaid Spring, a musical Adler is currently writing with Kyla Gardiner. Whatever your thoughts on Lana Del Rey, this piece was certainly a fitting bookend to the night, and perhaps the series itself.
Along with fine. at the Lido and other similar events, Records and Readings is quickly filling a niche in the spaces between Vancouver’s musical, literary and other creative communities — and, at least for the time being, it’s here to stay.