Aside from a few late-night sets that started behind schedule, the only glitch during Big Ears was the last-minute change of venue for Saturday night’s show by Baltimore electronic duo Matmos. Originally scheduled for the Square Room, the set was moved to the Catalyst in the Old City after someone at the Square Room objected to a brief image of a nude man in a video to be displayed on a screen behind the stage during the show.
“Martin and I try not to take what we do too seriously, but we are serious about our work when the chips are down, and there was no question for us of altering our show to fit someone else’s standards,” wrote Drew Daniel of Matmos in an e-mail after the festival. “Sadly, this kind of resistance to a sexual minority ... confirmed the worst stereotypes about a bigoted, narrow, and, if I may be blunt, culturally retarded and backwards mindset that snobby coastal types tend to think pervades the Deep South; it was exactly the sort of thing that surely this festival, with its inclusive programming of Antony and other queer voices, so beautifully counteracted. But luckily, the owner of the Square Room does not speak for Knoxville.”
Ashley Capps of AC Entertainment says the move was unfortunate, but it turned out well in the end. “I have to take full responsibility for Matmos being booked to play the Square Room,” he wrote on Knox Blab on Tuesday. “In retrospect, I perhaps should have known better but I just didn’t think through it very well. I chose the Square Room because I think it’s a great space to hear live music and that it would be a great space for this show.... I stand behind [the Square Room’s] right, as a private business, to determine what they do and do not wish to present in their venue. Similarly, I also stand behind Matmos and their right as artists to present the work that they wish to present. In truth, this issue was quickly resolved and Matmos was able to present their show in front of a capacity crowd at the Catalyst...as well as participate in the Baltimore Round Robin later that evening. Things worked out well and everyone was happy.”