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Soundwave Festival Explores Time

September 4, 2019

It can be hard to put aside fixed ideas, even for a short while, in order to revel in an unfamiliar musical genre. At the same time, simple curiosity can lead you to surprising places in the Bay Area. Places like the Soundwave Festival, which begins its ninth iteration on Sept. 21.

Soundwave is, refreshingly, exactly described by its title: It’s a festival about sound, in all its physical manifestations that takes place at several different venues over the space of about a month. Call it “alternative” or cutting edge, or simply “strange,” it is there to broaden artistic horizons, something we should all be interested in.

Soundwave draws strength from being multidisciplinary, but not only in collaborations. The ninth festival is curated by Tanya Gayer, an Oakland-based curator and writer whose work examines the ways in which institutions like archives, databases, and so forth help form cultural identity.

Gayer’s theme for the 2019 Soundwave Festival is particularly musical: “Time.” This has been a central preoccupation of the musical “avant-garde” for more than a century, but Soundwave expands on those musicians’ “sound as medium” concerns to bring in areas of politics and culture that are more meaningful in an interdisciplinary approach. Some of the programs include:

  • Twerk 4 Mother Earth: Throwing It Back & Forth: Musical artists Fela Kutchiii, Namaste Shawty, Onmommas, and Red Corvette perform at an art-saturated party curated by The House of Malico. (Sept. 21, El Rio)

  • DIALECTS: Artist Szu-Han Ho presents an experimental sound performance that draws from sounds, songs, and stories about migration and displacement, both human and nonhuman. (Oct. 24, Contemporary Jewish Museum

  • Just Ahead is Darkness, a Japanese obon-inspired evening of performance by contemporary Bay Area choreographers and sister duo Megan and Shannon Kurashige. The performance explores how time transforms the relationships between fact, story, and truth. (Oct. 26, Counterpulse)

  • Nochtlaca: Todos, todos, todos, in which Latinx ranchero artist San Cha, Persia, and Guillermo Galindo explore borders, walls (physical & psychological), emphasizing the importance of sound as a vehicle for a shared cathartic experience during difficult times. (Date and location, TBA).

Michael Zwiebach is the senior editor/ content manager for SFCV. He assigns all articles and content, manages the writing staff and does editing. A member of SFCV from the beginning, Michael holds a Ph.D. in music history from the University of California, Berkeley.