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Wired NextFest: NEXT Music

By Julene McCoy in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 23, 2005 8:02PM

Last evening at The Vic, Wired kicked off Next Fest with a show curated by Jeff Tweedy featuring The Handsome Family and Joanna Newsom. The stage was stark with only a white backdrop and a chair holding a computer that pumped the sound of crickets throughout the room. Chris Anderson, Editor-In-Chief of Wired Magazine, started off the evening with a few words explaining Next Fest's history.

Jeff Tweedy saunters on stage wearing the shirt that denotes one as a member of an alt-country band. Yes, that one, except his had white roses. Jeff's vision of the future is one where we return to the past in order to move forward, where melodies drive everything. Then Northwestern's Intelligent Information Laboratory unveiled their Music Story which takes mp3s and links them with images from the internet to create a PowerPoint-like movie without human interaction.

Next the announcer introduces Hanson - oops. The Handsome Family comes on stage laughing about how they wish they were Hanson because then they could be solving mysteries and be cute. This introduction plays perfectly into Rennie Sparks' dark humor. The Handsome Family evoke depression era country and folk singers, but the lyrics are all contemporary. Wal-Marts taking over the world and one's heart in "Lake Geneva" is just one example. When Brett is singing his face contorts denoting the pain that is his own great depression - life. Not the most optimistic vision of the future, but they definitely fit the bill of Jeff Tweedy's post-apocalyptic vision of what's next.

Other inventions showcased were a personal harrier jet the AMV-211 and Mindball, a game where being zen rules the day. The most practical of inventions was the myoelectric arm which uses one's own muscles to power an artificial limb. The invention most likely to be at Sharper Image was the 3D Display Cube which is a ton of LEDs that can be progammed to look trippy.

An interesting evening where we learned what to expect in the future - cool gadgets and depression.