May 8. 8:00 p.m. Powell Library Rotunda. Henry Lim and his String Quartet's composition and performance last night: contrived irony.
It was good, to say the least. Henry Lim and the Camarade Quartet performed every song, in the right order, on the Beatle's White Album. A dashing "venue", warmly lit, with high, decorative ceilings (suitable for acoustics) made me forget I was in the library usually representative of my academic masochism and instead teleported me into a slightly surreal world of sounds. I call this performance as one of "sounds" rather than "music" because in all honesty, it was just that. The string section was beautifully celestial, but the addition of Henry Lim's vocals brought...helter skelter?
With four muse-like girls all dressed in an ethereal white, I expected a serene night of violin and cello playing. The first section that was played I couldn't recognize as a Beatles song, only to realize Henry Lim had composed a short introductory fanfare for himself: he appeared from behind the dark hallway, a stocky bearded Asian man, sporting, get this, all black and a gaudy cowboy hat. Against the angelic ambiance of the pre-Henry Lim appearance, he was kind of a dirty spot on fresh linen -- for lack of a more profound analogy. Aka, a contrived irony. His raw and raspy voice did not hit many of the intended notes, but needless to say, I enjoyed all of the songs (genius of the Beatles: no one can ruin their songs). The string section, including Mr. Lim's own guitar playing, hands down trumped his vocals, although his spastic yelps and occasional jokes during and between songs were a delightful surprise. The audience was ecclectic, filled with both old and young. One thing I always notice during Beatles-revering concerts is that I fall in love with the people who attend. A spiritual unity exists as we all bob our heads and tap our feet just enough to move to the music but not interrupt the informally formal atmosphere of the performance. What can I say? Good music is an invisible black hole that indiscriminately sucks us all in.
All in all, despite Henry Lim's god-like treatment for himself, I applaud his compositions and the string quartet. He was definitely able to vocally pull off some songs, like Dear Prudence and Julia, and the toned-down version of Revolution 9, which I did not expect to be performed at all, was a sweet cherry on top.