Rows of chairs faced the stage that held aloft a white guitar in the air. Some structural force held the guitar up that did not allow it to touch the ground. This seemed to indicate the level at which to receive the music of American guitarist Kaki King’s new show, entitled “The Neck Is a Bridge to the Body”.
Once King took her seat and cradled the guitar in her arms, the show got underway with a whirlwind of soundscapes. As the guitar floated (to the spectator’s eye) in King’s arms, music flowed effortlessly from her hands. Meanwhile, images were projected on a screen behind King in tandem with the music. Oceans, penguins, bees, lights, stars, a taxi cab and New York City were all subjects of life through the performer’s eyes.
The most impressive visual aspect of the show was the projection mapping onto the guitar. The guitar had its own separate imagery that radiated from it; it was as if the guitar had a life of its own. In fact, the guitar had its own song in which it spoke to the audience. The video screen translated the burbling musical language that was used to communicate and relay the guitar’s life story — a story of not fitting in, but still finding a way to overcome adversity and continue playing guitar.
The song that followed had a heavy-metal growl that grew to a moment of calculated insanity before eventually cooling off with some electric noises coming from something that sounded like a space station.
King explained how she created the visuals for “The Neck Is a Bridge to the Body” to fall in line with the music:
“The whole piece is a story even if it’s not very obvious. I wrote the story first. I wrote the script. Through that script, I was inspired to write music for each piece. I was able to say here’s the story, here’s how it develops, here’s where it goes, here is what happens. I had a storyline that I then wrote music to. Once the music was written, I had music that visuals could be a part of. In an interesting way it is a different kind of story telling. It was very loose, but I knew it needed to have a beginning, middle and end — a journey. Something happening, something changing, something evolving — and that’s kind of how it really started. Story, music and the music dictated these different pieces. This has got to be fast, this has got to be slow, this has got to be big and gloppy and droopy, and this has got to be this drawing of faces and eyes and hands so that’s kind of how it happened. Even if you don’t understand it or feel it, I feel like people leave the show saying, ‘That was a complete experience.’ It’s about creation and evolving.”
The following night (December 13th) at The Catalyst in Santa Cruz, Scott Martin caught Kaki King’s show and snapped these shots below.