Last night I went to Artist’s Television Access for Thereoke, an oddball music event hosted by Trademark G. and Ottis Fodder. We had a blast.
When paying admission the ticket taker asked for our phone numbers for the “Cell Phone Orchestra”.
I kicked off the evening with some whiskey from ATA’s makeshift bar. 1 dollar a shot, and the shots where about 4 fucking ounces. I had two “shots” over ice. Afterwards, they started playing obscure music related short video clips. One, made by Xerox, was a cartoon about a lovely lass that could only be woo-ed by a unique new form of music, so her suitor learns to play the theremin for her love. Then there was this awesome excerpt from this VH-1 adaptation of Gene Simmons autobiography, has anyone else seen it? It was all done with still photos then animated in really cool ways, funny story too. Then there was William Shatner’s rendition of Rocket Man from ’78. Not only was that great to watch, but we had actually been talking about it several times earlier that day, what a surprise to see it at the show.
After the films, the Punk Rock Quintet took the stage. This was their first time not performing with a full orchestra, and it worked pretty well. PRQ performed 70’s and 80’s punk songs with violin, cello, two operatic female singers, and a male vocalist. Their set started a little week, but they hit their stride by the third song. I wouldn’t mind seeing them again.
Before intermission there was one more act, the cell phone orchestra. The audience members with cell phones drew numbers from a hat, and were “conducted” into playing ring tone symphonies by dialing those numbers. The end result was not anywhere near as interesting as one might think. I think I heard three phones ring.
During intermission I chatted with my buddy Matt (Bomarr Monk). Matt is an obscure music buff as well, I’d love to hang out with him sometime and make beats or go over music collections. Matt, if you are reading this, I just got all of my records from Minneapolis shipped here, check ’em out. It’s a shame that Passage wasn’t here to meet John, they could’ve chatted about gameboy music.
After intermission Otis Fodder and tradeMark G gave a little history about the theremin, followed Mark’s performance of the Star Trek theme on their Moog Etherwave. Then they asked for volunteers for Thereoke. The first two performers both chose Abba songs, the backing tracks where midi files, not full live bands. Dancing Queen sounded like elevator music. I’m glad Otis asked me to step up, I’m usually too shy to volunteer for this sort of thing, even if I really want to do it. I requested Girl From Ipanema, and I believe I did a pretty good job until after the chorus, the song had a breakdown or something weird happening. I had a blast rocking it.
After a few more songs, John and I took off. We went to Arinell’s for a slice, and came back right as ATA was clearing out. I took this chance to inquire about the Optigan. Apparently it wasn’t working well that night, but Mark gave me a little tour of the device. I had never seen an Optigan in person, and just loved all the cool shit about it. All the sounds are read off of a 12 inch circular piece of celluloid, using light. The sound was surprising, basically the notes on the keys sounded like samples of organ notes, but the “chord” keys on the left of the keyboard actually triggered loops. So basically this was like the first commercial sampler on the market (am I wrong on this?). The Optigan discs had great sounds too, one was a break beat loop kit, with 12 different loops in different keys. The loops had funky ass bass and tight drums, seriously some amazing kits to choose from. Another disc had a choir singing “doo doo be-doo be-doo waaah” lines, totally ripping off Esquivel sounds. Actually I bet with some research it might turn out they where actually Esquivel conducted, I seriously would not be surprised. When you press a key, it doesn’t always start at the beginning of a loop, as it just plays what’s on the Optigan loop. The keyboard sounds suffered because of this, they had this clipping sound when you struck a note, and you couldn’t shape the wave at all. Learning about the Optigan was the highlight of the evening, I’d love to document some of the sounds on these killer optigan discs sometime.
Evolution Control Committee’s tradeMark G.: