Nestled on a corner in Montmartre, the renown heart of Parisian artistic creativity, rests Galerie Chappe. Alongside the picturesque tree-lined steps leading to Sacre Coeur, Galerie Chappe has housed Jarvis Cocker and his band since Monday. Located in the creative heart of Paris, Montmartre, this self-installation is intended to question and explore, "What is music?" The week long stint or exposition, whatever you may call it, included such unconventional activities including Children's Day and a pilates class, with each day dotted with performances favoring Further Complications, his new album due out on May 19th.
Locating the gallery for Friday's events proved to be simple; walk until you hear music and zero in from blocks away. Our trio, who have been studying French, discovered a collection of French, Brits, and North Americans spilling out into the street. I learned later on from a Paris friend that the French adore Jarvis, confirming a prior hint in the form of a Parisian's exuberant response to "Is that really Jarvis Cocker?" Outside Galerie Chappe there was a sociable "café" atmosphere; people seated on steps and chairs drinking, chatting, and listening to the goings-on within. Inside, instead of the scheduled aerobics, everyone was seated with all ears tuned towards the back corner stage listening to an extension of Improvisations on a Theme.
The segment was unexpected due to an absence of, presumably, the aerobics instructor. Jarvis Cocker led his group through "Pilchard," with its prolonged psychedelic guitar vibrating off the nearly bare walls. The vibe was more like a jam session, housed up in some artsy garage on a summer's day with gathered friends. No one requested songs, nor impeded his vision during this portion. Jarvis turned the moment into an impromptu concert, with "Angela" being the highlight. With the entire event free and open to the public, it created a Big Brother-esque scene that played out online as well.
The following day's calender of events included an Outdoor Performance at 6 p.m. "weather permitting." The weather didn't agree; having been rather chilly and cloudy during the entire day instead of typically turning sunny by the afternoon. A rough instrumentally floating session including near spoken-word poetry cushioned the afternoon, aided by an audience member. "I like your choice of instrument," jokingly expressed Jarvis when he noticed her holding a triangle chosen from a nearby box of random instruments.
Following a brief repose, the band returned to their corner(s) and Jarvis made his announcement of a mini-indoor concert in lieu of the planned outdoor performance. Just afterwards, he rounded up his team and turned back to the public. Moments before a fan presented him a small bag of baked generosity in the form of little Green Tea cakes. In a mix of French and English to us, he expressed his gratitude and, after passing it around to the band and sound man, offered it to the crowd to share. Of course, the aforementioned French children of the day received first dibs! (He even gave one child his chair to sit on during the concert.)
After this intimate moment, the rollicking "Further Complications" and raucous "Caucasian Blues" dolled a one-two to the schedule complications. Hovering above the railing separating the public from the performers, the hill of Montmartre had to have shuddered at the punk-infused pounding drums and Jarvis' commanding choruses. Following up and slowing things down was the impassioned "Leftovers" and "I Never Said I Was Deep." As during the previous day, Jarvis Cocker could be clearly heard in the surrounding blocks drawing in the curious and confusing trekking tourists. While those inside were treated to a genuinely unique intimate installation.
Jarvis' time at Galerie Chappe succeeded, as those attending could say it was either a short-lived exposition or a prolonged series of concerts. Art and music were blurred during these days in Paris, be it through observing artists experimenting with new songs, providing an instrumental landscape to delve into, or even in the closeness of his concerts.