Notes on Victoria Theater Benefit Concert

Some of Scot Hacker’s quick / late-night notes/memories from tonight’s benefit, while the evening is still fresh in mind.

Hard to imagine a life better eulogized than Matthew’s was at tonight’s Matthew Sperry benefit concert at the Victoria Theater. A love vibe that filled the house top to bottom (500 seats, sold out and then some).

Orchesperry assembled just for the occasion — ~15 creative improvisers flying low under the outside umbrella. Pauline Oliveros Quartet with accordion, koto, shakuhachi, trombone — Oliveros one of the great American avant-garde composers, now in her 70s and keeps going deeper. Beautiful, meandering, meditative piece. Red Hot Chachkas with a rousing set of Jewish klezmer music. Matthew played with them too – even played bass at his own wedding with them. Very funny Yiddish song: How the Czar Drinks Tea.

Tom Waits appeared solo, on guitar first, then piano, played for around 45 minutes, mixed old songs and new, heart totally in it, genuine, loving, funny even when stumbling on older lyrics. Cast/band from Hedwig played a reunion — not the full show, but most of the songs from the show. Hedwig composer/lyricist Stephen Trask flew out from NY, as did musicians from the NY production. Strange to see the band out of costume and out of context – must have seemed really weird for those who never saw the show itself.

Matthew had played with every musician/group on stage tonight – his playing was so incredibly diverse. Never academic, always humble. No one there had ever seen all of Matthew’s musical involvements laid out all at once, in spectral contrast like that before.

By midnight, a wonderful but kind of unwanted feeling of closure. This was the final big benefit/memorial. Time for all of us to move on, and this night kind of makes it possible to do that, but I think we all sort of resist that feeling too — many of us not yet ready to “move on,” although we are and we must.

Waits sang You’re Innocent When You Dream:

It’s such a sad old feeling
the fields are soft and green
it’s memories that I’m stelaing
but you’re innocent when you dream
when you dream
you’re innocent when you dream

running through the graveyard
we laughed my friends and I
we swore we’d be together
until the day we died
until the day we died

1 thought on “Notes on Victoria Theater Benefit Concert

  1. I didn’t know Matthew, but I watched him perform 6 times during the run of Hedwig. My partner died 2 years ago and Hedwig–the movie and the play–was the first thing that truly moved me and made me think (and smile) during the grief period.

    It was for that reason that I felt so sad when reading about Matthew’s death. I really wanted to do something so I was honored to be at the memorial concert last night.

    It was obvious to me–an outsider–watching the many talented and loving people both on stage and in the audience that Matthew was a wonderful person who touched many lives. I also got to play with a beautiful little girl who I’m pretty sure is his daughter.

    I also finally got the “car wash” from Kevin C. 🙂

    It is a night that I won’t forget and I’m glad I got to be a part of it.

Comments are closed.