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Review: Max Cooper & Tom Hodge at Radial System

I saw Max Cooper play for the first time this past summer at the Audioriver Festival in Poland. The three-day festival had a pretty heavy lineup. His set was by far my favorite of the weekend. Thus was my introduction to Max Cooper.

Needless to say, I was looking forward to seeing him here in Berlin. I purchased my tickets a few weeks in advance, something I rarely do. I invited a friend to join me. Now, I had never been to Radial System before, so I had no clue what kind of venue it is. My friend and I reviewed the ticket. We assumed, that the concert would start around 20:30. My friend and I discussed what time we should meet and we decided to meet round 20:00 and head over. I mean no venue actually starts at the EXACT time it says on the ticket, right?

We arrived at 20:20, saw no crowd, and immediately realized our mistake. No, indeed this show started at EXACTLY 20:00. But worse, we have to wait in the lounge area for a break in the set. Tom Hodge is a pianist and we can barely hear the beautiful music inside, on one tiny speaker mounted above us. Now, we are standing there with about 8-10 other latecomers, all clearly Non-German. I really want to complain, but quickly admit that there was only about 10 of us that didn’t understand, because well everyone else was inside. Is this a German thing, or had everyone inside visited Radial System previously and knew what to expect? Now let’s try to get back to the concert. So when they let us in, I was expecting to be a disturbance…but no, we enter the space UNDERNEATH the bleachers. Meaning, they could have let us into the venue and we could have stood at the back, where we could hear the music, then at the break we could find our seats...even more annoyed now, we venture into the theatre and I take a seat, my friend sits in the aisle.

We get to witness one track of the Max Cooper/Tom Hodge collaboration. Hodge is a wonderful pianist. It was quite a unique combination, glitch electro sounds over a dramatic piano. But it was over too quickly for me to write a worthy review. Then comes a fifteen-minute intermission. Oddly, the auditorium cleared for the break and people didn't save their seats. So we moved to the second row, right in the middle. Max Cooper starts at 21:30 sharp, with his audiovisual performance ‘Emergence’.

The visuals are like a psy-fi journey into biochemistry with accompanying soundscape - it’s a poetic voyage. Cooper is quite brilliant and ‘Emergence’ is a developed and trance worthy performance.

“Emergence tells the story of how ‘everything comes from (almost) nothing…I worked with lots of different video artists and musicians, plus two mathematicians, putting together content to tell the story I wanted, and a performance system that allows me to control both the music and the visuals simultaneously live,’ Cooper says.” (Resident Advisor, 2015)

But sadly, half way into the performance, the seats are hurting my ass in a terrible way. Now my friend and I both have a busted Coccyx and we are trying our best not to move. Towards the end of the performance she asks if I want to leave. I am totally against this idea and say no. Putting my scarf under my tailbone to ride it out. I see more than 6 people get up to exit before the end of his set just in the first two rows. There is nowhere to stand. The seats must be the only reason people are literally leaving the auditorium.  So what more can I say about this incredibly talented musician/artist in this venue? I would have loved to be able to fully immerse into this audiovisual performance, alas this was not the case.

Photographs and text by Linka A Odom 
You can find Linka on IG, EyeEm, Twitter, & FB @themissinglinka

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