Marfa Myths Will Keep West Texas On Its Toes

Wire will bring their influential sounds to Marfa April 12-15
Wire will bring their influential sounds to Marfa April 12-15 Photo by Owen Richards
Music Festivals are in many ways, becoming the norm in today's music world. Now that corporations have gotten involved, there aren't too many festivals that are worth the trek to make it to nowadays. Of course, when you look at the heavy curation behind Marfa Myths, you'll notice that it's a festival like no other. Taking place  April 12-15, the music and arts festival is well ahead of the curve while offering plenty of reasons to take it seriously in the process. Created by Brooklyn's Mexican Summer in collaboration with Ballroom Marfa, the Texas fest takes everything you knew about a music festival and reinvents those notions at the same time.

Opening on Thursday April 12, there's plenty to check out at the festival starting with the festival's official zine launch at 4 p.m. This gets followed by an art show featuring "Imaginary Concerts" by Peter Coffin at Marfa Studio of Arts at 6 p.m. Coffin's world renowned works have been displayed all over, and this book full of posters of concerts that never were, is pretty amazing to say the least.

This gets followed up with a performance from musician, sculptor, and man of mystery Terry Allen at the Marfa Visitors Center. Allen has been known to mix things up at his performances, though his latest release Lubbock (on Everything) is pretty amazing. The folk sounds of Canada's The Weather Station will get things started, and that should be worth catching as she doesn't make it to Texas often at all. This begins at 7:30 p.m.  You can close out the first night at the same space with Hello I'm Dolly: the Best Little Drag Show in Texas starting at 10:30 p.m.

Jessica Pratt should delight all who attend Marfa Myths.
Photo by Colby Drescher
On Friday, the festival kicks off at 11 a.m. with an exhibition of the works of renowned artist Donald Judd. The pieces, Untitled U Channel and V Channel will be shown at the Ice Plant from the Chianti Foundation. Judd has had works in the MoMA, his art has been hailed by critics around the globe, and these larger scale pieces are something to see. While Judd passed away over twenty years ago, his work here is on par with works at the Guggenheim and the London Museum of Contemporary Art.

The folk sounds of LA's Jessica Pratt will take center stage at The Capri. Pratt's angelic voice falls all over her last release On Your Own Love Again, and should sound amazing in person. The psych infused folk of Illinois' Ryley Walker will open the show, with doors at 1 p.m.

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Kelsey Lu will bring her eclectic sounds to the festival.
Photo courtesy of SacksCo
Over at the Marfa Visitor Center, the eclectic sounds of New York's Kelsey Lu will be on full display, cello and all. Lu has been making intriguing and eclectic music for a good while now, she's collaborated with the likes of Blood Orange and Organized Noize, and her latest release Church is complex and beautifully engaging. Doors for this set are at 4 p.m.

At Ballroom Marfa, the opening reception for Hyperobjects will take place. From Rice University's Timothy Morton and Laura Copelin, the exhibition will confront our world's ecological crisis, and further dig into his book Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology After The End of The World. The ambient sounds of Philadelphia's Laaraji with Arji Oceananda will perform, as well as a performance from Portland's interplanetary folk group, Visible Cloaks.

The Moroccan collective sounds of New York's Innov Gnawa will perform at the Friday after party at El Cosmico. Omar S will open with doors at 9 p.m.

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Tom Ze will bring everyone to their feet at Marfa Myths.
Photo courtesy of Luka Bop
Saturday you can walk through the Hyperobjects exhibit with Timothy Morton and Laura Copelin at Ballroom Marfa at 11 a.m. You can follow that up with a set from renowned pianist Suzanne Ciani at the Arena. Ciani has become well known for her neo-classical style and her groundbreaking work with electronic music. The five time Grammy winner has composed music for everything from films to video game commercials, and her album The Velocity of Love is a measure in where electronic compositions can go. Her performance is at noon and should be mesmerizing.

At 3 p.m. the percussive and all out energetic sounds of Brazil's Tom Ze will perform at Saint George Hall. Ze has influenced the globe wil his Afro-Brazilian sounds, including the likes of Beck, Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, and David Byrne to name just a few. He'll be performing with Brooklyn's Helado Negro with Ensemble, and his latest drop Grande Liquidacao is a masterful as his early works. Seeing as how Ze is now eighty-one years old, if you're a fan this could be your last chance to catch the iconic artist.

The art of Jesse Moretti will be on display at an opening reception at Ashley Rowe at 4 p.m.; or if that's not your thing, you could head to Lost Horse to catch a set from LA's Drugdealer. The group, consisting of Michael Collins makes music that's pretty infectious, where his latest drop The End of Comedy features the likes of acts like Weyes Blood and Ariel Pink. That show gets going around 5 p.m.; or if you'd rather, the Reverberation Radio DJ set will take place at Nadar Bar & Grill at 6 p.m.

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Wire should blow minds at Marfa Myths.
Photo by Mike Hipple
Of course, over at The Capri, the iconic and influential post-punk sounds of WIRE will be on hand to headline a set. Since the mid-seventies, WIRE has made some of the most progressive music with releases like Pink Flag, Chairs Missing, and 154. However, if that were it, then that'd be okay, but in 2003 they started back with Send and have kept a steady stream of releases coming until last year's sonic and masterful release Silver/Lead. Known for intriguing and mesmerizing performances, their set should blow minds and influence new art. The indie rock of New York's Amen Dunes will also perform while the lovely experimental folk of Indiana's Circuit des Yeux will get the show started around 6:30 p.m.

An after party at The Capri will occur with a performance from Jamaica's Equinoxx. The music collective blends jungle alongside drum and bass and everything in between to create some epic jams that should get feet moving for sure. Things get started around 11 p.m.

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Thor & Friends make captivating use of xylophones and more.
Photo by Thom Wasburn
Sunday, the final day of the festival will begin with a set from Thor & Friends at Building 98. Thor Harris of the band Swans has been making this music with live instruments for a minute now that's infectious and intriguing under the name Thor & Friends. Last year with the release The Subversive Nature of Kindness, the group crafting melodies that will stick with you for a long time, and their live sets are always worth catching. The performance is Free and gets started around noon.

The Crowley will host a closing set from Gravity Hill Sound+Image. The group featuring film maker Jem Cohen who made the Fugazi documentary Instrument, the group also has Jessica Moss as a member as well as Guy Picciotto of Fugazi. The group makes music to film in a live setting, and should be energetic and amazing at the same time. They alongside the Allah-Las will be performing music to the film Self Discovery For Social Survival.

All in all, Marfa Myths will bring plenty of engaging and hard to come by performances to the most eclectic part of Texas. With sets from WIRE, Tom Ze, Jessica Pratt and more with art and yoga throughout the four days, the festival should be anything if not interesting and an experience for anyone who attends. Marfa Myths will take place April 12 through 15, and the tickets for single days start at $10 with all access passes available for $200.
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David Garrick is a former contributor to the Houston Press. His articles focus primarily on Houston music and Houston music events.