Bright Moments, “Behind the Gun”, live on Soundcheck
For multi-intstrumentalist Kelly Pratt, the Love This Giant tour adds one more to his very long list of projects. Kelly has been a central component for the tour as the co-musical director with Daniel Mintseris, playing a variety of instruments from the flugel horn to flute on stage. He’s also been serving up a weekly tour blog on Brooklyn Vegan with new events, photos and happenings while on the road with David Byrne and St. Vincent.
Kelly’s resume runs long, as he has arranged and recorded a variety of horns, woodwinds and vocals for an array of bands and musicians including, but not limited to, LCD Soundsystem, Passion Pit, Coldplay, James Iha, Nina Persson and Owen Pallet. Kelly has also been a member of Beirut and performed with Arcade Fire on their Neon Bible world tour in 2007-2008. Despite Kelly’s incredible background and many projects he has been involved in, he finds Love This Giant’s music not only interesting and unique, but also incredibly challenging to play—which is actually his favorite thing about the tour.
Kelly’s personal music project Bright Moments, formerly known as Team B, is his primary outlet as a singer and songwriter. Bright Moments incredible debut album Natives, was released this year on Luaka Bop. Kelly spent more than a year in his home studio, meticulously creating each track. If you haven’t heard it yet, you MUST—it’s definitely one of the best and “brightest” of the year!
Chicago, Toronto, Montreal, Boston, on to NY
On this tour, we are exceptionally lucky to be playing some of North America’s most beautiful theaters. The Chicago Theatre is perhaps my favorite. Built in the early 1920’s, it was initially used primarily as a movie theater. In 1986, it was massively restored and repurposed as a music venue. I find myself thinking of a memorable collection of photographs that document a number of abandoned theaters across the US. Many of these are beautiful rooms, but because of a variety of reasons (including urban population shifts and the rise of home video in the 1980’s) they were deserted and are in various states of decay today. The shows in Chicago and Toronto go very well. We are at a point now where we can perform the show without having to concentrate on every little detail, thereby allowing us to focus more on the overall musical and visual impact (and the beautiful venues we are playing in).
We arrive in Montreal the morning after Toronto to play the Eglise St-Jean-Baptiste aspart of the Pop Montreal festival. The church is majestically cavernous: there are huge chandeliers and two imposing organs. I head over to the Arcade Fire studio where David has just finished rehearsing some covers for the halftime show of the their yearly charity basketball game POP vs. Jock. As I walk in Regine is practicing some jock jams on organ for the in-game entertainment.
During our sound check DB suggests that Daniel use one of the organs for the St. Vincent encore, “The Party,” and also that, during that song, we put all the horns in the crowd. Luckily we have front-of-house engineer Pete Keppler on tour. He manages to make us sound great no matter what venue we are in, or what new ideas we throw into the mix. In Montreal we get what might be our best audience response yet, setting the bar very high for the rest of the tour.
The next day we all head to Boston for a day off. Most of us end up getting tickets to see Grizzly Bear at the Orpheum where we are playing the following night. [Like at Radio City] Their set draws heavily from their new album, which takes them further into psychedelic territory. The visuals are particularly breathtaking, accentuated by 12 or so hanging lanterns that rise and sink throughout the show. A few late games of pool later we head back to the hotel to rest.
End of rehearsals, Minneapolis, Milwaukee.
We finish our rehearsals at the beautiful Wellmont Theatre in Montclair, New Jersey. Two full days of running the set as many times as possible takes a toll on the brass players’ lips, but tightens up the choreography and transitions between songs considerably. Annie-B Parson is the choreographer for the show with Lizzie Dementassisting. She’s worked with David in the past, and her next next project is with Baryshnikov—needless to say, she has some brilliant ideas that really expand the kind of performance we are used to. This is also the first time we have played the show with lighting design, which adds another level of difficulty.
The following morning the band heads to JFK for a flight to Minneapolis where we will have a much-needed day of rest. We travel on Sun Country Air. Ever heard of it? Me neither. The trip gets interesting when Ira Glass takes the seat next to me. He is on the way to Minneapolis to do a Q&A for the premiere of his and Mike Birbiglia’s new film “Sleepwalk With Me”. Always the workaholic, he interviews the guy sitting next to him who (after some deduction skills and Googling) I determine to be the inventor of theKneeDefender. He invites Jon and me to the premiere of his film that evening. The movie is great and we discover that Ira is as good at talking in person as he is on the air. The theater serves bourbon, a novelty for us (in the theater, not on its own).
The first show of the tour goes better than expected. It may sound obvious, but performing in front of a live audience adds an extra level of energy and intensity. It’s like we finally realize the show, in its full potential, for the first time. Afterwards, a few of us go across the street to a bar where we meet some folks from Dero, the company that manufactures the bicycle racks David designs. One of the best aspects of this tour so far has been the focus on cycling. Nearly everyone in the band bought a folding Tern bicycle before we left. There are even a couple extras for the crew. This is the first time that I have toured with a bicycle and I will never leave home without one again. It’s so nice to slip away from the tour for an hour or two for a long ride. It has also allowed me to see more of the city than the few blocks near the venue. Both Minneapolis and Milwaukee are great cities for cycling with long bike paths and beautiful views.
Next we go to Chicago for a day off. It’s Carter’s birthday, so we may have to get him a white wine spritzer or two.
To bed, for we rise at 9:30 for 10(ish)
We’ve been in rehearsal for the last three weeks on an extremely intensive schedule: 8 hours a day, 6 days a week. The first week is primarily focused on drum programming and rhythm section coordination. With week 2 all the rest of us join in. As one can imagine, putting together a full set of music for twelve people can be a bit of a daunting task! Fortunately we have an experienced, talented, and motivated group of people involved.
By the beginning of the third week we are running the set with a pretty high degree of success. Then the choreography starts. I have six years of marching band experience (strictly “don’t ask, don’t tell” information), but most of the rest of the horns have never moved and played at the same time. Learning to play a brass instrument while walking around a stage is a bit like patting your head and rubbing your stomach. But way harder. Finally Sunday we manage to run the set with choreography. It’s going to be pretty impressive.
Monday we play Jimmy Fallon, definitely the most welcoming and my personal favorite of the late night programs. It’s our first public performance, and goes pretty well. Right before we play we all get a moment to warm up our horns. Carter starts playing Chuck Mangione’s “Feels So Good” as he tends to do 70% of the time he puts the horn to his face. Jimmy Fallon comes over and beamingly declares “I love that song!”
The next two days we head out to New Jersey for full production rehearsals at the Wellmont Theatre. After that we hit the road, first stop Minneapolis!
Thinkin about seeing Bright Moments again in Brooklyn in Sept.
“David Byrne/St. Vincent rehearsals start this week. Lot’s of practicing to do! With some homage to 2012 NCAA Champion Kentucky Wildcats.”
Bright Moments - Milwaukee