Laurie Anderson at Boulder Theater, 4/25/12

One of the goofiest and most endearing parts of the show came when Anderson sat down in the chair and told us she would show us some drawings done by her twelve-year-old rat terrier Lolabelle. Was she joking about her dog learning to improv with samples and synth? About making art? Hard to say but Anderson did show us a couple of videos of Lolabelle playing the keys.

Anderson later regaled us with a story of how a friend was some kind of conceptual artist who sawed his house in half, and how people had written about his art, but didn't think maybe it had something to do with his parents' divorce or his brother jumping out the window of that house to his death. Further that Tibetan Buddhists believed that animals go to spend 49 days in a bardo before passing on to the next life. And that the sense of hearing is the last to go so that priests tell you, "You're dead!" so you're not confused in your passage out of this world.

Then Anderson revealed that she believes in magic math and that most people are superstitious in some way. To give an example of this, Anderson asked us, point blank, "Would you wear the sweater of a serial killer?" Most people probably wouldn't, but also wouldn't be able to state a good reason why.

In the last part of the show, Anderson told us she had what was called a pillow speaker, and that she had always wanted to sing like a violin and with the device she would be able to. Then she did it. She joked before the demonstration about how she put it under her pillow to do things like learning to speak German, but that it never worked for her because she just woke up feeling paranoid. From the violin sound, she shifted to a kind of white noise wind by changing the settings. Then she picked up her violin and the synth came washing back in with what sounded like a reprise of the music from the beginning of the show -- the dark sound that felt like it was transporting you into a space outside of normal reality.

She ended the show with a collection of short pieces, the longest of which was about how the great perfumes were made so through false memories. Then she told us a story about a Paris of the imagination and how maybe now we felt like Paris was the place we missed like no other place we've never been to. And that the French loved America at some point in the 1800s and made ballets and other cultural artifacts for America and with America as the inspiration.

This blended into a fantasy about being a troubadour in the middle ages, with a heavy beat in the background and the violin came back in for a heady passage of music to end the show. But the crowd wanted more and Anderson came back and did one of her joking but appreciative, short violin pieces as a gesture of thanks for a receptive and enthusiastic crowd.


Personal Bias: I've been a fan of Laurie Anderson's since becoming more than passively conscious of her work over twenty years ago.

Random Detail: Before the show, the core Communikey Festival organizers made some announcements with Matt Krall doing most of the talking alongside Lauren Higgins. They kept it brief but who wouldn't be excited to be presenting a show like this?

By the Way: It's refreshing when kids are at a show and they're quiet when the performance is going on. Thanks for that.

Follow Backbeat on Twitter: @westword_music

Location Info


Boulder Theater

2032 14th St., Boulder, CO

Category: Music

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