Last Saturday, I took myself to the Museum of Human Achievement, treating my ears to a unique album release by Austin’s Quin Galavis. Next week the world will get to hear My Life in Steel and Concrete, but those in attendance were treated to part show, part performance art.
The large stage at MoHA was split in two, one for the performance and one for the musical element. Our evening began with our protagonist working on fixing an old radio, seemingly looking to find friends/survivors in the outside world. Her communication revolved around a voice from above named Marshall. As the lights faded on that half of the stage, we were encouraged to look over at Quin, sitting quietly on a pew, ready to share his voice with those in attendance.
Perhaps the best idea for the entire night revolved around the setting. In such a place, the audience wasn’t there to be cool or to hang out, they were there to see what Quin was offering, and in that, they were completely silent from start to finish. He began his portion with a couple of tracks, accompanied by prerecorded samples. Sitting alone, I think it was then that I first noticed how great his voice truly is. There are moments when he pushes himself, pulls from the nether regions of his soul into more of a polished growl, but for these moments, there was a stark beauty in his delivery.
The scene quickly faded back to the performance, where we encountered a continued battle between our protagonist, the radio and Marshall. I liked the brevity of these scenes, as they came forth as refreshing interludes into the overall production Galavis had mapped out for such a release.
Then we were back to Quin, accompanied for the next few songs by Graham Low on cello; you should know Graham for his work in all your favorite bands about town over the last few years…most recently seen with A Giant Dog. At this point, the depth of My Life in Steel and Concrete began to shine through completely. It became clear that this was an album of emotion, completed by complex arrangements that filled in the space behind the vocals. And then quickly back to the closing scene.
Now, I can’t be wholly certain, but the scenes seemed to involve a sense of isolation and loss, which, when put together with this record, are destined to affect every person that listens…though we were fortunate to see it all together in one interesting evening. And as it ended, Quin introduced his full band who joined him on stage to close the night out.
They ran through seven tracks from My Life in Steel and Concrete, and still, no one said a word. By this point, the heat in the room (no AC on the night) had become stifling, but with just a dimly lit stage, it felt like all the elements aligned perfectly to leave me with a lasting impression.
And just what did I walk away with, besides the beautiful brown double LP? Well, for one, Quin Galavis deserves a ton of credit, both for the completion of this great record and the organization of something that stands out amongst the many other release shows I’ve attended. Musically, the whole night was a journey, and that’s much like the record Quin releases unto you all next week. The performances pieces combined with the musical element created something that is rare nowadays; it’s a collection of songs that begs you to sit down and indulge in listening, begs you to immerse yourself in the confines of the whole album. If you don’t, then you’ll miss out on something that deserves more than just a casual passing.
My Life in Steel and Concrete comes out August 26th via Super Secret Records.