Night at the Museum

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Eleven Eyes at the JSMA After Hours party

Remember what made the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie so good? It was the quieter moments, the times without swishing swords and ever-writhing facial tentacles. When the characters are forced to sneak away from glowing torches and bustling pirate saloons, a dark, eerie feeling sets in that elevates The Curse of the Black Pearl into something more than just a summer blockbuster. Think Elizabeth and Barbossa’s feast in the creaking bow of the Black Pearl or Will and Jack’s underwater canoe stroll.

So while the jazz/funk sextet Eleven Eyes was excellent, the real treat of the Jordan Schnitzer‘s After Hours party today was exploring the rest of the museum, which was completely open and empty but for the stray adventurer.

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In a darkened museum, the art fades to the background and the enormous space itself becomes a unified piece of sorts. Shadows loop across ceilings and floors and connect spaces, and mysterious objects appear. Is that a modern sculpture, a cleaning cart or a tray of strange potions?

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What’s that spindly creature gliding through the gallery, and who is its rider? If only another summer blockbuster of old, Night at the Museum, could have captured some of this creepy magic! Alas, the only thing Pirates and Night have in common is a mischievous monkey.

Back in the warm pink light of the show, Eleven Eyes was creating its own sort of voodoo with disembodied voices playing in a loop from an iMac and eclectic instruments like a shrieking conch shell and miniature gong.

I chatted with band member Tim McLaughlin during a break, and he told me why the band is called Eleven Eyes (“There’s six of us. One of us doesn’t see out of our left eye. That would be me, actually. Simple math!”). and who the disembodied voices belonged to (“It was a religious CD about how rock music is bringing society down,” played with some irony). He said he’s also used sound samples of seismograph machines and aboriginal chants. Very cool.

VIDEOFUN: McLaughlin’s conch solo. It’s hard to see, but he kept stuffing his hand deep into the conch shell to create that tune. It looked kind of painful!

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