Cover image: Starfighter Yellow Superoverdrive performing at Memphis Concrète.

Weird is Good at Memphis Concrète

Memphis Concrète returns for its third year this weekend to bring together experimental electronic music acts from Memphis and beyond for your listening pleasure.

Festivities kick off Friday night, June 28th with a pre-show, Ineffable Cohesion, at Lamplighter Lounge. The group performance installation promises to surround you with sound. The show is $10 for the general public or $5 with your festival pass.

The main programming for Memphis Concrète occurs on Saturday and Sunday. Beginning at 3 PM each day there’ll be back-to-back performances in The Green Room at Crosstown Arts featuring artists from all over the US, and from as far away as the UK.

Some of the performances are collaborations between artists who were asked specifically to craft a set together for this festival, which means you’ll witness a one-of-a-kind experience that probably won’t ever happen again.

Another draw for the festival is Saturday’s pay-what-you-can screening of “Tron” (1982) with live scoring by Argiflex + Careful Handling.

Festival Schedule

Click on each artist to hear music samples.

Day One – Saturday, 6/29

3:00-3:25: Mike Honeycutt + bihl
3:30-3:55: Noiserpuss + Belly Full of Stars
3:55-5:45: Tron movie w/ live score by Argiflex + Careful Handling
5:45-6:15: MPX
6:25-6:55: Max Eilbacher
7:10-7:40: Optic Sink
7:55-8:25: Mykel Boyd
8:45-9:45: Rapoon
10:05-11:05: Matmos
11:00: Memphis Concrete after party at Artemisia Studios featuring Container, Medic, Ross al Ghul.

Day Two – Sunday, 6/30

3:00-3:30: Ihcilon + Jack the Giant Killer
3:40-4:10: Linda Heck + Pas Moi
4:20-4:50: Jack Alberson
5:00-5:30: Paul Vinsonhaler
5:40-6:10: Artificer
6:20-6:50: Outside Source
7:00-7:45: Tavishi
8:00-8:45: Pas Musique + Shaun Sandor
9:05-10:05: Moor Mother

We got to speak to one of Memphis Concrète’s organizers, Robert Traxler, about being into weird sounds and some of his must-see sets for this year.  

What does Memphis Concrète add to the city’s music festival offerings that was missing? 

I think more than adding, it’s found things that were already here and brought them together. Memphis has always been a great place for rock-based music, and there’s been many supportive scenes for that, but experimental music isn’t something you see too much of. There have been people around doing experimental things, but they’ve been in smaller, isolated pockets, or just people sitting around making music at home. Since the festival began in 2017, I’ve found a lot of people that were already here doing their own thing, but it was less connected. Concentrating energies into a single festival like this, I think, has brought people together that otherwise might not have known about each other, or at least so easily and has helped to foster a sense of place and belonging as far as experimental music goes.

If you’re out there and are at all interested in making experimental music or weird sounds, even if you’ve never done it before, no matter what sort of equipment or instruments you have, come talk to us, online or at a show. We’d love to have you with us playing out at either the festival or other shows. The more the merrier. You’re what’s missing.

Wolf Eyees

Can you talk about how your appreciation for experimental electronic music grew? How much exposure did you have in Memphis?

I’ve always liked weird music, and the older I get the more I just want to hear stuff that doesn’t sound like anything else I’ve heard. Most of my exposure comes from music outside Memphis, but I knew other people in town who share the same interest, but they just weren’t pushing themselves or this kind of music out there. And then there are people like Mike Honeycutt who have been making this music since the 80s that I just didn’t know about. I could start to feel like I’ve been missing out all these years, but I’m just so happy to now have broadened my horizons so much both with what has already been here and what’s new that’s coming up.

Kristina Warren, Memphis Concrète 2018

Can you share about how the lineup comes together? This is an international event and that’s pretty cool.

The international connection comes from my partner Luís Seixas who comes from Portugal where he’s helped run the label Thisco Records. He has some European connections from that and they had worked a lot with Rapoon in the past. As for the artists coming in around the U.S., it mostly comes down the group, including myself, Luís, Amy Schaftlein, Chris Williams, and Jacques Granger, trying to think of who we’d want to hear and who would be interesting and fit with the feel of the festival and maybe even push some of our own boundaries and then see who we can get. The rest is trying to get as many local artists as possible, especially ones who haven’t played yet.

Andrew Raffo Dewar, Memphis Concrète 2018

Of course, people should experience as much of the festival as possible, but are there highlights you’d recommend or a particular set you’re very excited to have curated?

  1. Matmos: I saw Matmos in 2016 and it was one of the most incredible live performances I’ve ever seen. Most of their albums revolve around a theme that drives their sound sources and their 2016 album Ultimate Care II centers around a washing machine. So live, onstage, they had a washing machine running and their entire set centered around it. It’s hard to describe in words, but concept aside, it was just a great performance. They just put out an album centered around plastic (Plastic Anniversary) where all sound sources are derived from plastic in some way so I know the washing machine won’t be there, but I’m excited to see what they come up with.
  2. Moor Mother: I saw Moor Mother perform a few months ago and her set is very intense. It’ll be the first time Memphis Concrète has had an artist is so focused around poetry.
  3. Rapoon: Since Rapoon is coming all the way from the U.K., it definitely feels special that he’ll be here. This also marks the first time we’ve brought anyone from overseas. I’ve also been a big fan of his earlier band :zoviet*france: for a long time so having someone here who was a part of that is very exciting. And his solo work is great too and continues a trajectory they’d set forth.
  4. Optic Sink: A lot of people in Memphis are familiar with Natalie Hoffmann’s band NOTS, and it’s exciting to be working with her side-project Optic Sink. They move in somewhat similar territory, but Optic Sink is much more heavily electronic and takes a more detached approach.
  5. Artificer: We met Artificer at the festival last year and at that point she’d never made any music, but we talked about music and synthesizers and she ended up playing a few shows in the past year. She’s developed a very singular style based around a very deep sense of drone. It’s nice seeing everything come full circle in a sense and now she’s playing the festival and is great and more people should hear her music!

Check out Memphis Concrète 2019 on Facebook. Day passes start at $30 and can be purchased at Eventbrite.

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