RIO WOLTA - concert in the dark

No More Intimate Music (2018)
A concert in the dark by Rio Wolta / Piet Baumgartner

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AT FIRST THERE WAS A NEW RECORD
In November 2018 Rio Wolta released his second album named «No More Intimate Music» (listen to it HERE). The record is about intimacy and intimacy in public and Wolta didn’t want to play normal shows to present it live. Already in the past he was looking for new forms to play his music live (see e.g. MASCHINEN or SHOWROOM).

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WHY DARKNESS?
There were mainly two questions before Wolta and his crew came up with the darkness idea. First: In which scenery can you fully concentrate on the music? Second: What do we mean when we talk about an intimate concert? Pretty soon and after a few try outs it was clear that darkness must be the solution. When you’re not able to see anything you automatically start sharpening your ears which sets the focus on nothing else but the music. Further: When you’re in the dark you don’t know by how many people you’re surrounded by. You don’t know whether you’re alone or together which creates that intimacy and also a kind of loneliness this project was looking for.

THE CONCEPT
The concert in the dark works at several places. At Gessnerallee in Zürich (22.-24th November 2018) there were two bigger rooms (150sqm each) and one smaller room (80sqm). There were all in the same line next to each other. In the two bigger rooms the audience was placed on comfortable beach chairs. The smaller room (on the left) was taken as the main room for the band with some light in it. The audience had no access to the smaller room (doors were shut).

Smaller room on the left for the musicians, two rooms for the audience on the right.

Smaller room on the left for the musicians, two rooms for the audience on the right.

The two bigger rooms were not constantly dark. After every 20 minutes there were a few short cinematic light effects. Due to these light effects people were able to guess the shape of the room after a while. At the same time they realized that they were not alone. This changed the situation and gave a new twist to the dramaturgy of the evening.

Photo taken with a night sight

Photo taken with a night sight

Photo taken with a night sight

Photo taken with a night sight

Volunteer with a night sight

Volunteer with a night sight

The musicians were not only in the room on the left. Guided by volunteers wearing night sights the musicians sometimes changed the room and played or sang acoustic in the dark right next to the audience without seeing anything.
So for the audience it wasn’t really possible to locate the musicians. They never knew whether the band is in the same room or somewhere else.

A wandering sound was generally important during this project. With eight sound boxes it was possible to let the sound move from one corner to another. When you fully concentrate on the music this feels like being on an acoustic rollercoaster. It was important to have the audience in between the sound instead of letting them standing or sitting opposite it. The aim was to confront them one hundred percent with the sound.

A SHORT VIDEO

Video shot during the rehearsals with a night sight and a smartphone.

FACTS
1) at Gessnerallee Zurich «No More Intimate Music» was shown three times (three evenings)
2) The band played three hours and the audience could come and leave whenever they wanted to (guided one by one by the volunteers wearing night sights)
3) 100 people attended «No More Intimate Music» each night
4) Gessnerallee Zurich is one of the most important venues in Switzerland when it comes to interdisciplinary performances (dance/music/theater)
5) Rio Wolta (musician) and Piet Baumgartner (director) have been working together for seven years. They won several international prizes for example for their video THROUGH MY STREET. More work on riowolta.com or pietbaumgartner.com.

NEEDED PEOPLE
1) 4 or 5 musicians
2) 1 show manager (guiding the musicians and light effects)
3) 1 sound engineer
4) 3-4 volunteers who guide the audience with night sights (can be local people; needed instruction time: 30 minutes; 3-4 volunteers are calculated for an audience of 100 people)

SPECIAL COSTS
1) night sight rent: 800$/week for 4 pieces/volunteers