Yesterday I got an urgent (frantic?) message from the director of the Shiras Planetarium, Becky LeBrecque. She and I are friends, and we’ve talked a bit about Marquette Music Scene eventually collaborating with the planetarium on their spectacular laser light shows. If you haven’t been out to one of these yet, you are DEFINITELY missing out. Anyhow, this message yesterday was about progressing from using recorded music for the laser shows to doing it with a live band: local/regional eclectic rockers Not Quite Canada. Now, as I said, we’ve discussed this in the past so I wasn’t too shocked that it was about to happen, so why was this message so “urgent”? This “first of a lifetime” opportunity is happening THIS SATURDAY!
Fortunately, with the gig occurring on such short notice I was able to catch up with both Becky and Josh Dallas Carlson of Not Quite Canada.
Hey guys! Thanks for doing this on such short notice. Let’s just get into the meat of what’s happening here. This is pretty short notice for a show like this, especially something this groundbreaking. How did this show come about?
Josh: We were supposed to play the Boot Lake Music Festival this coming weekend which was unfortunately canceled. Many of us in Not Quite Canada are full time musicians and a canceled gig is like a missed paycheck. Sometimes in these scenarios we have to act fast to make sure we aren’t going to be coming up short that month, and we had been talking with Becky in the past about doing a live show with a visual mash-up. As deeply saddening as the cancellation of the Boot Lake ‘fest was I took it as a sign that we should turn this dream into a reality.
Becky: Yep. As Josh said we had been talking about it in the past, and when he reached out after their gig was canceled it just seemed like too good of an opportunity to pass up. We pretty much jump at any good opportunity to make headway on our fundraising goals, and we’ve come to an agreement where the planetarium is guaranteed to come out ahead Saturday (The goal is $500k to replace the projection system that went down in 2014, over $100k has been raised so far).
Yeah, the U.P. music scene can be very fickle these days when it comes to festivals and national level entertainment, but it seems like you guys (Not Quite Canada) are definitely making the best of it AND helping out an amazing organization/venue at the same time.
Now, Josh, Not Quite Canada is already a pretty eclectic group. How do you feel playing in this environment is going to add to your show?
Josh: We already play a style of rock and roll that is unique in itself, but this collaboration will create a visually stimulating environment that would take the listener on a journey with every song. With only 55 seats in the dome, this is a very intimate show, but we wouldn’t want it any other way. I expect it to feel somewhat like a spaceship and its crew talking off on a psychedelic, Halloween themed, music adventure through space and time.
…and it’s not just going to be Not Quite Canada on Saturday?
Josh: That’s right, and I couldn’t be more excited about this. This is going to be a collaborative effort with Shiras Planetarium, Not Quite Canada, Hyroglyfic Collective and GrooveMQT. Between us we have all key pieces and players to put on not only a show but truly a piece of art that is new and fresh and something Marquette has not seen yet.
So in other circumstances we could consider this a “once in a lifetime” opportunity, but since we’re hoping this is just the start of something really cool, we’ll call it, as I did earlier in the interview, a “first of a lifetime” opportunity.
Josh & Becky: (Laughing) Yeah.
Alright, lets talk a little about the production side of this spectacle. Becky, what has it been like preparing for this show, especially on such short notice. Is this like an all-hands on deck moment where everybody who is capable of working the system needs to be there because you’re trying to be creative in the moment? Or have you had a little time to try to flesh it out with the band and get some pre-programmed effects?
Becky: Well, we’ve never done this before, but we have our new Kvant laser system and Pangolin Beyond software so we are prepping a little this week, using songs from NQC’s website, and we expect to do a lot live. My laser tech Jacob Phillips and I have been doing our best to build some pre-programmed effects, but the majority of the production will happen live. We don’t have a setlist or anything so it’s definitely not going to be as choreographed as our traditional music shows. There will definitely be a lot of experimenting. In our eyes, the focus will still be on Not Quite Canada, but…
As a production cat myself I imagine it will be fascinating to watch from both a technical perspective and as a fan enjoying the show.
Finally, Becky, obviously, we’re going to be anxiously watching to see how this turns out, but at this point what do you think this show means for the future of the Shiras Planetarium?
Becky: Well, for MAPS and the planetarium, we are ready to explore new avenues for student experiences and public offerings. Eventually we will have student designed laser shows. For now, Jacob and I are still learning the software and system.
Is there anything else either of you would like to get out there?
Josh: With only 55 seats available we highly recommend buying one pre-sale as soon as possible. A portion of the ticket sales goes back into the planetarium, which we have a deep respect and love for, and love everything they do for our amazing community.
We are going to blow some minds in that dome though. It’s gonna be a blast!
Becky: As you said this is going to be a “First of a lifetime” opportunity, and from what I’m hearing from the bands, and seeing what Jacob and I are putting together you aren’t going to want to miss this one. It’s probably going to sell out so get your ticket NOW!
Thanks so much for your time. This is really cool. I wish you the best for sales, and am looking forward to watching the planetarium grow in both the unique educational and entertainment opportunities we’re so blessed to have available to us in our rural locale.
Tickets for this VERY LIMITED event are $18, and available HERE. This really sounds like something you DO NOT WANT TO MISS!!!