UCI's Open Melody Fest Has Friends in High Places

When the Open Melody festival concludes this Saturday night at UC Irvine, it won't just be the attendees who will file the memories away alongside those of other festivals large and small from the past. A large number of the bands have long since played similar shows as part of a thriving underground network of such concerts–and in the case of New York to LA transplants High Places, those memories from when they first began remain vivid.


High Places – The Longest Shadows from Thrill Jockey Records on Vimeo.

“We kind of cut our teeth on these makeshift outdoor festivals in
Brooklyn during the summer of 2006,” remembered High Places member Mary
Pearson via an e-mail interview earlier this week. “They were all-day
shows in various alleyways and abandoned lots around Brooklyn with just a
ton of bands and only minimal organization. I have really fond memories
of that summer because of those shows. One stand out memory from those
summer festivals was seeing Comets on Fire followed by Matt and Kim who
were followed by Excepter. I can't think of another setting where you
could see that lineup at one show.”

This kind of musical mix and match can be heard in the work of High
Places itself, with Pearson and her partner Rob Barber almost using the
idea of rock music as a launching pad for rhythmic exploration of all
kinds, with percussive ideas and instruments ranging from electronic
collages both live and in studio to the pounding of wood blocks. It's a
sharp, spiky approach that embraces the playful without coming across as
randomly goofy, something Pearson also describes as being both
liberating and potentially challenging:

“[We] like to experiment with our sound and process, and there can be
some hemming and hawing about how to accomplish that, but it generally
feels like there's a natural evolution occurring with our music. We
would never in a million years want to repeat ourselves, but we also
know that there's always going to be a “Mary+Rob” sound to High Places
that we can't completely escape. We can really psych ourselves out by
talking about music that is still in the works. But yes, there's always
something on the horizon for us, and we're pretty methodical about our

That process also includes the visual, with the duo's self-created
album art supplemented further by their main blog at
http://hellohighplaces.blogspot.com almost solely consisting of
photographs from their travels and experiences. “We like to think of
High Places as the all-encompassing name for the collaborative creative
projects the two of us embark upon,” notes Pearson. “I feel that our
blog deals with a lot of the same ideas found in our music: man's place
in the natural world, nature as muse, the spiritual attributes of

Full information about the Open Melody festival this Friday and Saturday
at UC Irvine can be found at http://acrobaticseveryday.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *