Colin Stetson, Live In Concert: SXSW 2011
Colin Stetson is coveted as a sideman for countless big names: The Montreal-based bass saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist has been a touring member of Arcade Fire and Bell Orchestre, and has performed guest work with Tom Waits, TV on the Radio, The National, David Byrne, Bon Iver and countless others. But don't expect Stetson to fade into the woodwork as a frontman: Everything about his act is larger than life, from the man himself to the oversized instrument he plays.
As a solo artist kicking off NPR Music's SXSW day party at The Parish in Austin, Texas, Stetson crafts vivid, enveloping, seemingly freeform soundscapes that sprawl and convulse. Stetson takes the stage carrying only that enormous bass saxophone — no looping equipment or samplers — and after a short, droning opener, tore into the lurching, thunderous "Judges." It took all of about 60 seconds for him to appear possessed by some otherworldly force, complete with bulging veins and the sort of overwhelming sonic presence that prompts a thousand whispered queries of, "How does he do that?" Given how short of breath Stetson sounded between songs, one answer would seem to be, "By using every possible speck of his lung capacity."
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