(This post crowd-sourced!)
Most guitarists plug into amplifiers. But after settling down at our table in the soft luminescence of Club B10 at MASS MoCA, I slowly awakened to the reality that this electric guitar was plugged directly into the space-time continuum. Had the concert begun already? Were the gently swelling chords part of the show, or had they always been there from the beginning of time?
Whatever their origin, these notes were not played; they were invoked. The soloist didnâ€™t take the stage; he merely existed alongside the audience. He was a musician without ego, a sonic force without presence, a true rarity in the universe.
I was experiencing the first stage of Superhuman Happiness; serenity.
And then the band arrived, quietly in sneakers, surrounding a single microphone and seamlessly blending in, like a barbershop sextet waking us with a morning raga. Begin stage two: Annunciation. For a few moments, I had both harmony and chaos, form without shape, sound without rhythm, but, oh, did those sneakers need to moveâ€¦
And move they did! Layers of drums and percussion laid down a solid foundation, reminding us that the revolving Earth was still beneath our feet. The saxophone limned FĂ©laâ€™s peaks, while the rhythm guitar – clear and precise – made it completely obvious that it was time to dance.Â A mĂ©lange of sonic textures, from spiraling synthesizer to vocals laden with chorus, brought back the 1980s, but then I realized that the ’80s werenâ€™t this compelling.
By the middle of the show, I hit stage four: Liftoff!!Â With an expert mix of avant-garde riffs and escalating beats, the performance broke through the lofty factory roof and soared directly into orbit. Never before had I been part of an audience that successfully clapped together in a syncopated rhythm. Never before had I seen a group where five of the members had a lead singing role. Never before had I found myself actually thinking, I need more cowbell!Â (The cowbell solo rocked!). These firsts alone were worth the price of admission.
In the final songs of the set, the band expertly navigated our way back down to Earth. The final stage was now complete. More than anything else, this ensemble has a deep understanding of the emotional experience that they want to share with you. Far more than a collection of songs on an album, Superhuman Happiness offers a chance to soar with intentionality and compassion.
Written and submitted by MASS MoCA patrons and music enthusiasts, Christopher B. and Laki V., who travel frequently from New Haven, CT to see shows at MASS MoCA.