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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Beat Box, In A Box

Posted by Noah Dunham on Sat, Sep 18, 2010 at 3:23 PM

AS/SS
  • AS/SS
It is events like last night's Drum Machine that makes me wish that TBA, or at least the event space that is THE WORKS! was open year round. Not only because the event was unique, creative, upbeat, and engaging. But also because it was a well put together showcase of Portland talent and the individuals who are able to produce that talent. Which is something that I think this festival has sort of lacked. There has been numerous inspiring and professional national/international acts involved this year. But tonight it was refreshing to see some homegrown talent.
That said, the night was a bit on the long side. It started promptly at 10:30 pm and when I checked my watch at 12:30 am, there were still 2 acts left to go. The show was ambitious. Maybe a little too ambitious.

There were five acts in all:

Claudia Meza composed a piece for Portland Taiko and AS/SS (Alex Smith, Sean Sumler). Which consisted of a strange kind of tribal/Animal Collective drum cocktail.

Tara Jane O'Neil and Marisa Anderson essentially curated a drum circle that consisted of them and seven other drummers/performers. Each drummer took a turn creating the foundation beat (god I wish I knew more about drumming, I bet there's a sweet ass name for that like: boom boom beat, or the fixing-to beat) and then the circle would add on. There were some interesting sounds employed, and it was fun seeing what these creative rhythm makers came up with. But at some point it kind of just started sounding like, um, I dunno, a bunch of drums?

Jane Paik then presented her piece that was easily the show stealer. Paik employed dancers (who also doubled as hand/body beat makers), and STLS (former Explode Into Colors drummer Lisa Schonberg, and sts of (the haggard, winter solstice puppet show band, and cadallaca) to create a pretty kick ass, well choreographed and tightly woven performance piece that was both fun to watch but also invigorating to listen to. I was taken aback with the thought of how much rehearsal must have been put into the piece. I hope they take it somewhere else so others can see it in the future.

Want to hear more? Follow me after the jump!

Then Sarah Johnson and Mark Burden took the stage. Burden, who fitted the drumming aspect of this piece, was never seen by the audience and was covered in this huge, stretchy nylon blanket that Johnson eventually also climbed into. The piece was one part comedy of errors, one part dance, and one part visual spectacle, as the blanket was half the stage's size when completely spread out. Easily my second favorite piece.

And finally Ronnie Bass and Gandalf Gavan took the stage. Bass performed 2012 and The Astronomer, Part 1: Departure from Shed which has been on display at THE WORKS! throughout the festival. Patrick had this to say about it when he it in the classroom space. Bass was accompanied by German pop singer Gandalf Gavan. Bass apparently produces Gavan. I don't have much to say about this final act. It was late. I was tired. I suppose underwhelmed is the only descriptor that comes to mind.

Like I said, all in all the event was pretty fucking rad. A lot of great work on the stage and a lot of good energy coming from both the performers and the audience. Yes it was a little long. And at times it felt as though I was watching the drum circle at the Oregon Country fair, only with hipsters. But (and maybe this was the bourbon talking) a bit of a warm-fuzzy feeling came over me by the end of it. It was nice to see Portlanders making Portlanders proud.

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