Oct 15, 2007

Rocktober 11th - Matt Haimovitz@Iota Club and Cafe

Ok, we are halfway through Rocktober and my wallet is really feeling the effects.

Last Thursday's performance was perhaps the most affecting of all the shows I've been to in the past 2 weeks. Matt Haimovitz is a classically trained cellist. His schtick is playing not in the usual concert halls, but instead in the small dimly-lit rock/grunge halls of America.

The Iota is nothing more than a simple stage, 1 foot off the ground. 2 rows of chairs were set up, and every seat was filled, along with all the bar stools for this particular show. We were ready to believe him.

Matt is a musician. I'm not talking about a person whose voice lilts and floats throughout a rock show, or whose guitar strums along to a drum-backed rhythm. I'm talking about a musician. Matt knows how to manipulate his instrument to make music like I've never heard before. The cello resonated so deeply and his bow grazed along the strings with such precision. His callused fingers danced up and down the fret board for 2 hours as he presented Bach Cello Suite No. 1, along with many avante garde pieces. I was near tears and was truly silenced and immovable listening to After Reading Shakespeare. He read poetry from Shakespeare in between the pieces styled after the sonnets. Or whatever.

Listen, the thing is - from the moment I walked into that room, I was totally under Matt's spell. Looking at him play, it is easy to look past the exterior. The exterior that screams "I play Dungeons and Dragons and will totally judo-kick you under the table", complete with black clothes, long hair and pale skin. When you see him playing the cello - the lines of anguish and musical passion that form on his brow...the veins the bulge out of his hands and forearms from playing so robustly...you can't help but fall under the spell.
He played The Star Spangled Banner - the Jimi Hendrix version -with 2 mikes on the cello, volume turned up to 11. So cool.
He plucked and bowed the cello simultaneously, while playing music so drearily sad, you'd think he'd been to Auschwitz, communist camps, and the site of 9/11. It was heartbreaking.
He recited Mark Twain and played several 3-4 minute pieces in between the Twain, with an amazing sense of humor and tenderness.
Check him out. Be amazed. Enjoy the classical music and if you get a chance, stop by to see him. He is touring worldwide. I love Matt for having the brevity to screw the classical music halls and bring classical music to the masses, for an affordable price and for bringing such an unforgettable experience to the Rocktober experience.

Rocktober gives Matt Haimovitz 10 out of 10 stars.