2 bbq shows last weekend, some other stuff

Great head-to-head action on the bus last Saturday (7/14). T/R vs Core of the Coalman started out with some incredible-sounding fast viola bowing and guitar picking, swarm of bees style. As they shifted to more electronic sounds the PA (or somebody's mixer or something) started fucking up on them, sounds canceling each other out. T/R would slide up a fader and then there would be no sound from either one of them. Oops. They persevered and kept things going pretty well. A nice marriage of their two individual sounds, combined with obnoxious buzzing and bizarre pauses. The sounds of failure. Tullan Velte played his buzzing TV set. Not as compelling as other performances I've heard from him, but still pretty nice at times. Read it and Weep... Erika from Gowns and Sarah C from 16BP traded off spoken word one-liners, calling out ages for the other to speak about and smashing bottles. Sometimes through distortion pedal, sometimes not. A lot of it was unintelligible, a lot of it was pretty funny and pretty wrong ("Raped for the first time, not the last."). Some more sincere moments might have made this an incredibly disturbing performance, but maybe that's what was happening when the distortion pedal was engaged. None the less, great fun. It's hard to maintain sanity inside the bus, so I watched most of SIXES vs. Tralphaz from the roof. It sounded like a slightly denser Tralphaz set, and looked like one too, with David going nuts and rolling around on the floor among the audience (a precursor) while SIXES calmly stood in the back with his fingers in his box. 16 Bitch Pile-up vs. Ettrick started with a nice bed of sound laid down by the ladies with some high pitch sax work from Ettrick. A few power failures later 16BP decided that if they didn't get to use instruments neither could Ettrick, and they forcibly disassembled the drum sets. The show continued as primarily a sax and trumpet duo between myself and Sarah B, getting rowdy out in the audience. A lot of other stuff was going on, but it was hard enough trying to play high harmonics in a mosh pit and not get my teeth knocked out by my own horn. The set ended with the official performers tackling a couple audience members who had taken to playing the discarded drums. Maybe you could say these were more sounds of failure, but it was more like a response to a degenerating and fucked up situation. There are youtube documents of this performance (here and here), but more than ever I find myself in agreement with the Cornelius Cardew line of thinking: "Improvisation is in the present, its effect may live on in the souls of the participants, both active and passive (ie audience), but in its concrete form it is gone forever from the moment that it occurs... Documents such as tape recordings of improvisation are essentially empty, as they preserve chiefly the form that something took and give at best an indistinct hint as to the feeling and cannot convey any sense of time and place." The sense of time and place in this particular case was so intense that this performance just doesn't make any sense experienced via youtube. Got there at 8, ate borscht and piroshki in the cold beneath the overpass as if we were standing outside a soup kitchen, bus finally got there at 9:30, long set up time, technical failures in house equipment, increasing party atmosphere (this was indeed a going away party first and foremost), more long set up time, etc. By the time Ettrick vs. 16BP played, the performers and much of the audience had been hanging out beneath an overpass for 6 hours (8pm-2am) drinking and listening to brutal noise inside a claustrophobic bus. Whatever craziness/weirdness ensued was a direct response to these conditions and felt pretty perfect at the time. Separated from the context, who knows. Rahdunes vs. Tank Attack closed the show outside the bus. Two drummers and three guitarists, or something like that. It sounded like Rahdunes psych guitar drone with percussion accompaniment. I watched from atop the bus. Finally got out of there around 4am.

After some late night food, insufficient sleep and an exasperating trip to bustling Haight Street to spend $70 to repair the drums broken the previous night (and I literally didn't even touch my drums once during the performance), I made it over to 21 Grand for the Transbay Skronkathon. Actually, I heard a bit of the first set on the live webcast. I remember nice high tone work from Matt Ingalls (clarinet) and Aurora Josephson (voice). Things went silent for a few seconds, then out of nowhere, a pigeon call -- Matt Davignon on turntable. Voice, horns and mutated birds continued. Great. Cornelius Cardew Choir was performing when I arrived in person. Beautiful gentle dissonances held in long tones. Articulations determined by the names of recently deceased musicians being honored by the pieces (Leroy Jenkins, etc.). I was in too much of a frenzy replacing my drum heads to really listen to this, but I liked what I heard a lot. A drummer didn't show up and I got drafted into Matt Davignon's duo at the last minute just when I finally (would have) had a chance to catch my breath. I think it went okay. Blast beat & shrieking guitar noise from Jay Korber and Mikey Yeda. Pretty intense, especially with Korber at the drums (they switched instruments near the end of their short set). Loudest, bloodiest and skronkiest set of the day. I felt good about the Dryer/Heule bass/drums set. Quietest set of the day. Great noise set from Sophisticuffs. Noisy dual guitars and electric upright bass, but my favorite part was the 5 foot tall aluminum cone. That thing sounded great whether it was being hit with a mallet or dragged across the floor. Damon Smith has sure been playing a lot of noise music recently. He told me his parrot head costume is in the works. Incredible set from Mute Socialite. Probably the tightest and most engaging I've seen them, and I've always liked their stuff. One continual set made up of shorter pieces. I had to leave my sausages burning on the grill because I couldn't pull myself away. Dijkstra/Greenlief alto sax duo was really great too. They explored a pretty good range of material in their set. Nice seeing Jorrit play live finally, and Phillip was certainly the best dressed person at the Skronkathon. The Whassuptet, with Robair, Ingalls, Shiurba, Perkis and Djll, ended the day on a high note. Very relaxed set of long tones, very high tones, silences, etc. Nice out-of-place clarinet arpeggio thrown in near the end of the set.

Tuesday 7/17 at Annie's... Someone learned a bad lesson from the bus and the show started super late. Only saw the first two acts before I had to get over to KUSF (and just barely made it). Nice solo set from Erika of Gowns performing as Some Dark Holler. Warm feedback guitar piece plus two songs (one I've heard performed by Gowns before). Treasure Nest was a trio featuring drums, kalimba, sax and vocals. Surprise ending where the drummer stopped playing and started singing, then joined by more vox and alto sax, was my favorite part.

Noise pancakes Saturday 7/21. Some nice harsh noise from UFO as Bacteria and Trepan Vent. Yvonne had an outfit (tight jeans and striped tank top) and dance moves that had me thinking of West Side Story. Vocals run through delay and other processing. Drum stick poked into his own skin and maybe even up his nose, in a way that appeared to be painful, but didn't sound like anything at all. Some pretty good stuff here, especially when it was layers of clean vocals, looped and live. Shrew Forest had a good hardcore guitar rock interpreted through harsh noise thing going for them. I lost interest as the set went on past 20 minutes. Low budget vegan pancake recipe is becoming more and more like real food.

Later that night at 1510 8th Street. Oxtails were on point. Jacob Lindsay cooks as well as he plays clarinet. Drinks flowed freely. Compression of the Chest Cavity Miracle consisted of solo viola playing mostly single long tones and long silences. Occasional quiet long delays were audible through small speakers. Minimal use made it all the more effective. Wailing vocals briefly at the end. Great set and a nice compliment to the Dryer/Heule/Lindsay trio. I felt good about that one too.

Ended up at Orbis Nex later on and handed over my entire $5 profit from the 1510 show at the door. Baboon Torture Division was first. Drum machine beats and bass guitar. A little bit noisy. Costumes a little bit goth. Dancing Ronald McDonald during the last song. I saw these guys in Vancouver last year where they played their full set to a video which really pulled the whole thing together. Unfortunate technical problems, etc. I gotta say I was more entertained by the heckling than the set. Rubber O Cement was next, doing their usual thing. I got clocked in the head by the javelin bass, and the creep ran away before I had a chance to stomp on it. Premature fade out. I missed most of the other acts while I was walking around on the roof, eating Chex mix and watching the fire pit.

John Wiese and Joshua Churchill sounded great in sound check at the Compound. Depressing I missed the show while playing my own show in Oakland. How was it?

Also, Bran Pos kicked ass at 21 Grand way back on Friday the 13th. Seems like he's on fire. No costume but a Pampers t-shirt.



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