‘Paper Mirrors’ promises unique experience in Bowker Auditorium

By Gabe Scarbrough

WMUA will present “Paper Mirrors,” its alternative spring concert event, this Thursday at 8 p.m. in Bowker Auditorium.

Described as an “art gallery, film screening and live, tangible audiovisual experience” on the event’s Facebook page, the occasion’s concept is ambitious if nothing else.

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The event will feature a preview screening of a documentary made specifically for the event along with art installations and performances by electronic music producer Hokes. Rising instrumental experimental indie pop band Delicate Steve will also be performing, and altogether this concert promises to induce sensory overload.

Opening the night will be Hokes’ performance. Perhaps better known on campus as Bobby Addimando Jr., Hokes is a former University of Massachusetts student who previously performed on campus as part of WMUA’s fall semester event “Hip Hop in Renaissance.” Inspired by avant-garde hip hop producers such as J Dilla and Flying Lotus, Hokes performs his dreamy sample-based beats in front of a live audience, utilizing a Roland SP-404SX sampler. Featuring guest musicians from the UMass Percussion Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble and Orchestra, this performance will find the producer performing his late 2012 EP “Head Games” in its entirety. The EP will be slightly altered, as this arrangement is meant to utilize the live musicians.

Afterwards, a preview of a documentary based on the concept of the event will be screened.

“The idea of the whole thing really is to take people out of their own realm of art and create something that is inspired by another realm of art … and create something in a different way,” said WMUA Publicity Director Dylan Brewer, the event’s organizer.

For the documentary, western Massachusetts-based painter Edgardo Sanchez Jr. created three murals based on headliner Delicate Steve’s past, present and future. Listening to the band’s first two albums and a demo of a song yet to be released, the artist created works of visual art inspired by the band’s music. These paintings were then shown to the band, which in turn created a song inspired by the works.

“Music inspires art, inspires music,” said Brewer. “It’s a condensing thing while you’re transcending senses.”

Though the documentary, which conveys this process, will not be released in its entirety until three to four weeks after this event, a seven- to eight-minute preview will be shown to facilitate in “creating the experience for the people,” according to Brewer. This late release is also due to the fact that footage from the performances at “Paper Mirrors” is being incorporated into the film.

Opening its set with the song created for the event, Delicate Steve will be the final act of the night. Signed to former Talking Heads front man David Byrne’s record label Luaka Bop, Delicate Steve makes energetic, enigmatic and positively kinetic instrumental music. Despite the absence of prominent vocals, the songs almost always have catchy melodic hooks, most often served up courtesy of bandleader Steve Marion’s virtuoso guitar playing. Ranging the gamut from synthesizer filled pseudo-soundtrack arrangements to blistering funk-fueled jams, Delicate Steve’s music is hard to put into a box, though one thing many of the tunes have in common is their tight grooves.

“I hope people get out of their seats and dance to Delicate Steve,” said Brewer in addressing that Bowker is a seated venue and that this might affect the event.

Partially funded by a $1,000 grant from the Commonwealth Honors College, this event serves many functions, including being Brewer’s honors thesis as well as the first day of the Ten Days of TED promotion organized around the upcoming TEDxUMassAmherst lectures. As such, five tickets to the UMass TEDx event will be given away at this concert.

“I’m trying to create an experience, a feeling more like they’re leaving a movie theater – they just left a good film,” said Brewer, who noted that he has many surprises planned for the event. “I want people to leave engaged, holding things, leaving with things. You’re extending the presence in their memory.”

Gabe Scarbrough can be reached at [email protected]