The Joshua Light Shows are a Blast from the Past

by: Emily Kirkpatrick

September 13, 2012

The NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts have arranged four evenings of The Joshua Light Show to be accompanied by a series of performances by big name genre-spanning musicians beginning tonight and going through this weekend. The Joshua Light Show, founded by multimedia artist Joshua White in the late 60s, are pioneers in crafting visual accompaniment to live music. Their work has been featured during performances at Woodstock, the Newport Jazz Festival, Tanglewood, Carnegie Hall, the film Midnight Cowboy, and most famously served as a backdrop for bands during the sixties at the East Village Fillmore East. White and the collective created live, improvised projections of swirling colors and psychedelic, lava lamp-esque imagery to accompany each musician, including rock legends such as The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, and The Who. Their lumia techniques and use of “liquid light” quickly made them famous among art and music fans alike for crafting spectacular and unforgettable live performances.

On September 13, 14, 15, and 16, The Joshua Light Show will bring their trippy light experience back to Greenwich Village’s NYU Skirball Center to work with a string of influential musicians who range from experimental trance music all the way to mainstream award-winning pop. Tonight’s performance will feature Grammy-winning percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie along with experimental harpist Zeena Parkins, followed on Friday by a performance at 7:30 by minimalist composer Terry Riley and his son, and at 10 by music icons John Zorn, Lou Reed, Bill Laswell and Milford Graves. Saturday will feature pop superstars Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden of MGMT, and the series will conclude on Sunday with world music bands Debo Band and Forro in the Dark. The series of concerts will reintroduce what Rolling Stone once called “The Most Psychedelic Light Show of All Time,” and the New York Time’s referred to as “a vision of an instant, wrapped in and around great waves of sound,” to an entirely new generation of music lovers and art aficionados.

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