Facebook R&B crooner Mario has been relatively quiet on the music front for…
- Posted on Jun 28th 2010 12:30PM by Barnaby Smith
Come to See: Although the Institute for Contemporary Arts -- with its tiny music venue that sits in the corner of one of the capital's most innovative arts complexes -- does not have concerts every night like many venues of its size in London, it does enjoy arguably the most eclectic programming of any you can find.
A look at the artists who have come through the doors here since the turn of the year confirms this. Just earlier this month Gang of Four played a landmark show previewing new material and exhibiting artefacts from their history. In April and May, the Clean, Nada Surf and the Strange Boys all played, with Broken Bells, White Rabbits and Japandroids having also passed through the ICA in 2010. If nothing else, this is a venue for the educated and open-minded music fan.
This is also one of the most remarkably positioned rock venues in the city. The ICA sits on the Mall opposite St James's Park on the ceremonial route to nearby Buckingham Palace. The building itself was once the stables of the famous Carlton House Terrace, designed by Regency London's architectural hero, John Nash.
The ICA has existed since 1947, with music in the venue dating back to Igor Stravinsky's 75th birthday celebrations in 1956 and 1957, while in 1971 the ICA saw the first UK performance of the Steve Reich Ensemble. All that goes under the imperfect label of 'experimental' has a home in this multi-platform centre, and that covers both music and the rest of the artistic spectrum -- and one of the most fascinating things about the ICA is that it often plays host to some curious crossovers, as Gang of Four's recent work here proves.
The Atmosphere: The ICA's allotted space for live music, when taken on its own merits, is rather dark, poky and insubstantial (even if it does have the most spectacularly good sound). But what sets this space apart is the fact that the creative energy of the rest of the ICA, with its proclivity towards avant garde and alternative ideas in the fields of cinema and the visual arts, filters through to the gig venue. Therefore, it often doesn't feel like your average rock club, and becomes something deeper and more complex to explore as the different mediums interact with each other on several levels. And for that reason alone the ICA's atmosphere is unique.
You Saw Them Here First: As far as music was concerned, the ICA came of age in the 1980s. In this decade the venue did not so much host smaller bands who went onto greatness, but allowed established artists to do their thing in a smaller setting. So the Smiths, Sonic Youth, the Cocteau Twins and Cabaret Voltaire played here as part of the Rock Weeks series, while a 1984 show from Australian electro-outfit SPK resulted in a riot.
Claim to Fame: As well as that first show from the Steve Reich Ensemble, in the early 1990s, the ICA hosted the early art exhibitions of one Damien Hirst.
You Should Also Know: Ever a place where boundaries are routinely spat on, in 1984 German industrial collective Einsturzende Neubauten played a show designed as an 'attack on music', where they began attacking the stage, equipment and audience. Literally, they took power drills and chainsaws to the floors, and threw glass bottles into a cement mixer that promptly started shooting large shards at the audience. Live music is not what it used to be.
Booking Now: Lissie, Flying Lotus, the Like