Arca & Jesse Kanda
Hollywood Forever Cemetery; Los Angeles, CA

Venezuelan-born producer Arca and visual artist Jesse Kanda made a stop at L.A.’s famed Hollywood Forever Cemetery on their recent two-date US “tour.” The cemetery’s dark and tiny 150-capacity masonic lodge served as an ideal venue for Arca’s ominous and disorienting compositions, especially when wed with Kanda’s menagerie of visual grotesqueries. It was a visceral, sexually charged audio-visual spectacle that fed off the intimacy of the venue; while you wouldn’t necessarily want to look away, it sometimes felt like you couldn’t anyway.

As a “live” performer (he also books DJ sets), Arca is a refreshing change from similar artists who seem tethered to their laptop table. He rarely spent more than a song locked in one place, opting instead for playing live keyboards, rolling around on the stage, and at one point, jumping into the crowd for an uncharacteristically aggro vocal performance. In fact, I was surprised at the extent to which Arca’s live vocals peppered his entire set. He clearly demonstrated another aspect of his talent and lent a humanness to the music that is hard to discern when listening to the records themselves.

At this point, it’s hard to think of Arca without also picturing the visual work of long-time collaborator Jesse Kanda. The cover art, the videos, the promotional imagery — it all fits so well. Live, you see two artists who are fully in sync, from Arca’s fluid mimicry of the recently released “Sad Bitch” video or Kanda’s precise editing of fireworks to the percussion stabs of “Now You Know.” They are clearly different types of performers; Kanda prefers to remain behind the screen working by candlelight (he had to be forced out to even take a bow), and Arca is almost entirely on display. But these are two artists working to completely rewire their respective art forms, and to watch them do it together was thrilling.

[Photos: Erik Westra]

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