April 6th, 2002


(OFF)SEAMUS day one

So... first night of (OFF)SEAMUS -- this is why promoting shows is not something to enter into lightly; and by no means should one think of it as necessarily 'fun.'

Which, as a preface, belies the positive aspects of it:

David Talento's Palm Pilot/Nord Mod/Korg ER1 set -- David is one of the old school Analogue Heaven gear hounds. A very gregarious, cheerful guy with a background in all sorts of experimental music. It was cool to see how much fun he could have with a fairly minimal setup, and the way he incorporates a sort of free-jazz aesthetic to performing live electronic music.
I joined in on some noise guitar -- basically I ran a delay inside the Promix on the guitar and fed back through a monitor on a chair. It is always fun to do sets where the whole idea is to create an interesting racket -- I've DJ'ed with Books of the Bible and it was similar, but the whole idea is different than the careful playing you normally do in a rock band -- it's all about gesture and feel, and the specific notes don't matter. I used a Bic lighter as a slide...

Bill Van Loo's set started out with really delicate droney ambience -- he was playing a guitar with hammer dulcimer mallets and sampling/looping live on the laptop in Max. It gradually built up to something a little more beat oriented, but always kept Bill's lush melodic style.

Katakonda (Barry Ryan) played a fucking great set of his own techno from CD with effects ...
Really really nice. Wraith(Tim Johnson) played more of an old school techno set -- Korg MS2000, Novation K Station, Electribe, MC505 for sequencing, SP303 for sampling. Very nice, and very much exciting in-the-moment techno.

The downsides for me:

Attendance -- there was a DJ show the night before, and a CD Release Party by Psychosomatic the same night at the Green Room (the other halfway decent live venue in town) so we didn't get the 'usual suspects' who might turn up for one of our events. Then we got maybe 50 people from SEAMUS, who were really pretty reserved. I know they have their thing, and we have ours, but it didn't seem like they were terribly into the show. As soon as Barry started and they heard something recognizably techno, the room cleared. By the time Tim finished there was no one there but us and the bartender.

I don't want to judge the SEAMUS people (well I do) but as esoteric and outside the mainstream the stuff they do is, I would think that techno would be an easier sell. What I've noticed from the ELectro-Acoustic shows I've been to, the academic community really dislikes repetetive beats, and are often over-enamoured with the technology -- guys with PHDs and grants and shit, that make sounds I've made in my studio that I wouldn't even bother recording. I guess it's like anything else -- 99% of any genre sucks -- and maybe everyone just was worrying about making the 8:30 paper sessions. But still -- the whole point of what I'm doing with (OFF)SEAMUS is to try and point out how more 'folk' electronic music -- the DIY'ers -- have digested and reacted to music technology and the modern classical music -- Glass, Reich -- and used it for making direct emotional connections with an audience.

Not that there isn't brilliant electro-acoustic stuff -- far from it. But in terms of performance, the electro-acoustic guys press play on an ADAT, where 'our' folks are actually working improvisationally and making music that's in the moment. And anyone who complains about live techno having no engaging performance to it, try staring at speakers on an empty stage.

But whatever -- to the extent that it was a night for the headz, it was brilliant. Given the current economic climate and the slump in electronic music sales, it really may be better to not care if anyone shows up. When you do shows though you take it personal.

Oh, and the fucking sound system was self destructing all night. I had to keep changing channels that we fed because half the mixer channels were full of nasty distortion and crackles. The microphone sounded like it was playing through a screaming metal distortion pedal. The direct boxes were falling apart -- I duct taped them together, but one of them went intermittent. The power cords, which are made from those galvanized 4 outlet junction boxes and cable, were also totally falling apart, and my mixer kept rebooting. By the end of the night there was no sound coming out of my XLR outs on the Promix, and I'm wondering if it's shot. No point in trying to fix it since I can get one on EBay cheaper than fixing it, but it is going to piss me off if it's going south from repeated power cycling .... basically the whole Gabe's sound setup seems like it is falling apart, which is inexcusable.

The last show I did we lost all the front of house gear because the plug vibrated out of the wall on stage. Grrr... they bring high profile bands in all the time to this place and they aren't peforming the normal maintainence they need to keep things running. And the guy who owns the sound isn't in the club -- it's me running around trying to patch around the sketchy parts of the system, and it's my show, and I'm the one who looks like an ass. Grrr...

But it was great to have everyone play, and to hang with Gregory and Darwin from Cycling74, so it's not a bad thing, just nervewracking for me...