Next at EMPAC: “The White Room” Myth-making Pop Music with Francis and the Lights

American culture has been defined by pop music. It’s who we are—and our pop stars must cultivate a persona, a delicate balance of conscious mythmaking and absolute earnest humanity. Beneath its commercial surface, there is a depth of artistry that most people remain totally oblivious about. For the adventurous, there is always more to be discovered. I think Francis and the Lights is about to happen as more and more open minded music explorers embrace their cross-disciplinary concepts and creations.

Checking out Francis and the Lights – who are coming up at EMPAC at RPI in Troy, NY on October 28-29, – it was hard to put a finger on just what was so appealing and mesmerizing about the group. Their combination of music, stage presence and underlying artistry is simply unique. Then I hit on this great quote from Stone (aka Winston Ford) who is the creator of The Couch Sessions www.thecouchsessions.com, the premier online destination for alternative urban music and culture.

“Brooklyn’s Francis and the Lights might just be one of the best bands around right now, but they’re still on sleeper status with the non-tastemaker public. His combination of indie rock with old school 80s RnB was enough for Drake to take notice and add him on his last national tour. Again, I’ve been pleading with y’all for two years not to sleep on this band. They’re gonna blow up one day.” – Couch

What’s coming up is a spectacle called The White Room, an unexpected pop music experiment by reclusive singer, songwriter, and pianist Francis Farewell Starlite. He is in residence at EMPAC, and while this is not the sort of show that they normally offer, you can always expect the unexpected from RPI.

The White Room references the small, white, environmentally controlled chamber used by NASA astronauts to make final preparations before entering the spacecraft, such as donning parachute packs, putting on helmets, and detaching portable air conditioning units. First used in Project Gemini, its use continued through subsequent programs up to and including the Space Shuttle program.

Francis and the Lights is the symbolic band name used by the reclusive and eccentric performer Francis Farewell Starlite. The term “and the Lights” does not refer to his backing band; the “Lights” are intended to represent stage lights and screen pixels.

Starlite’s single vision and explosive live performances have drawn comparisons to David Byrne and James Brown, among others. Last year, he toured the US with rap superstar Drake (at his personal invitation), as well as opened for MGMT, Ke$ha, La Roux, and Mark Ronson.

Before the performance, Evelyn’s Café will open at 7 PM with a full menu of meals, snacks, and beverages as well as a selection of wines. Service continues after the performance.

Additional event information can be found on the EMPAC website: empac.rpi.edu . Questions? Call the EMPAC Box Office: 518.276.3921. If it is your first time to this amazing facility, call for special parking and easy access information.

About EMPAC

The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC), founded by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, is an international hub for art, performance, science, and technology — offering adventurous interdisciplinary public events, support for artists and scholars engaged in creative research, and the resources of a state-of-the art facility for digital media production, research, and performance situated on a college campus.

EMPAC 2011-2012 presentations, residencies, research, and commissions are supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Science Foundation, the National Dance Project of the New England Foundation for the Arts (with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; additional funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Community Connections Fund of the MetLife Foundation, and the Boeing Company Charitable Trust), and the New York State Council for the Arts. Special thanks to the Jaffe Fund for Experimental Media and Performing Arts for support of artist commissions.

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