The Overdub Club, a live film projection and music performance group I have been a part of since it’s inception in the early 00’s, were asked to present an hour long performance at the new state-of-the-art Kanbar Auditorium inside San Francisco’s recently relocated Exploratorium on Pier 15. The new Explo is one of SF’s crown jewels and a wonderful setting for interesting science and fun.
We were given full access to the theater the day before, had a luxuriously long rehearsal and sound check, our needs and requests were covered by a staff genuinely excited for the show. The Exploratorium exhibit hall was packed and our closing segment of the evening was SRO. It was hands down the best show we’ve done. The moving images of Thad Povey, Al Alvarez, Rock Ross and Diane Best were given a full live audio score by myself (guitar, electronics), Suki O’Kane (drum kit, electronics) and Wayne Grim (guitar, electronics) and the ninety-nine speaker Meyer Sound Constellation array had sounds flying all around the room. We were told it was the happiest, most attentive crowd to date at the Kanbar.
So here we have the best of all worlds. A city that invests in itself, a classy venue that commands a respectable admission price (GP $15, members free), an attentive satisfied audience – and all the artists (and workers) got paid. This helps. A lot. Thanks to San Francisco, The Exploratorium’s Liz Keim and Sam Sharkey and to the audience that helped make it the success it was.
Note: This is a companion piece to my last post and perhaps will illustrate the variance in my and many musicians performance experiences.
Tonight is a special show. My first conducted composition for large ensemble. It’s big. It’s beautiful. Piece to Celebrate the Proximity of Pearl Harbor Day and the Death of John Lennon on the only date it can happen – Mon Dec 7 @ The Makeout Room in San Francisco.
Rehearsal last night was very productive. I discovered that conducting is a rather rigorous affair and will continue to cling to the notion that notation software sucks in general (the sprawling score required good old scissors and glue to paste sections together properly). Aided by a stack of cue cards for the maestro to hold up, the musicians were able to get through the piece and it was fantastic to hear it come to life.
It is in four sections and scored for 10 guitars, 3 bass, 2 percussionists and 1 vocalist. It incorporates my favorite things from some of Glenn Branca, Rhys Chatham, and Moe! Staiano’s work.
The guitars are unison tuned with two low E strings, one middle E and three high E strings. Sections one and two make use of specially prepared spent bullet casings and scraping technique across specific strings to achieve the dramatic sound of planes approaching and departing.
Section 1 – The Sun Also Rises
Section 2 – TORA! TORA! TORA!/The Sleeping Giant Awakens
Section 3 – Helter Skelter
Section 4 – The Sun Also Sets score.pdf
The piece was conceived in New York City in August of this year. After booking a gig on Dec. 7 for large ensemble and having no idea what to present, the date struck me as significant. Pearl Harbor Day followed by Dec. 8, the death of John Lennon – two events that managed to wake people from their collective stupor for a moment. More than anything else this piece is about that, but the analogies are endless.
Members of the Orchestra include:
Suki O’Kane, Pat Spurgeon, Eli Crews, Dave Jess, Geo Kitta, John Shiurba, Nils Erickson, Daryl Shawn, Wayne Grim, David Slusser, Bobby Ray, Brian Good, CD Cummings, Reid Johnston, Dylan Champagne and Katherine Copenhaver.
The show was really great! Good vibe and crowd. We powered thru the piece and received so much positive feedback and encouragement. Thank you, thank you. It was a cool night of music overall – both Ross Hammond’s trio and Michael Heullits’ trio were smokin’!
Video of the first 10 minutes from Ross H (Section one, The Sun Also Rises and part of Section two, Tora! Tora! Tora!):
…off to the The Makeout Room for the Snowball Pond Orchestra performing Piece to Celebrate the Proximity of Pearl Harbor Day and the Death of John Lennon, the first conducted composition by kingtone (aka Lucio Menegon). (Some readers my recognize Lucio as the host of the Ivy Room experimental-improv series.) The piece is a a surround sound minimalist-meets-mayhem piece to celebrate the proximity of two events that managed to wake people out of their collective stupor for a moment or two.
The first two sections appeared to focus more on Pearl Harbor and the last two more on John Lennon. The opening section featured the guitars, as described above. Later on, much darker guitar and string sounds were set against snare drums that sounded at once militaristic and like a clip from a rock solo, followed by long sustained guitar unisons and complex chords. The music gradually took on more of a rock feel as the narrative moved from Pearl Harbor to John Lennon, with quotations from Helter Skelter (from the White Album) towards the end.
We played in Sacramento last night at the Prescott Showcase of new, improv and jazz music hosted by our friend Ross Hammond. For some reason SPLITLIP has played more shows to fewer people in Sacto than anywhere else. But the shows are always interesting there, so the few who make it get the goods.
Things felt really great onstage and we could have played on all night or as Suki said, ‘until the electricity runs out.’
A comment overheard during a lull in one of our pieces:
‘Do these people have any talent?’
followed by this Q&A w/ Ross:
Q: ‘What do you think their influences are?’
Ross: ‘I wouldn’t know where to start.’
ALBUM next year, we should hope…(the wonderful Michael Zelner recorded this and most of our shows, so…)