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 Forum index » Reviews, Editorials and Commentary » Reviews, Reports and Interviews
GTMBA - October 17, 2003
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mosc
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Joined: Jan 31, 2003
Posts: 17630
Location: Allentown, PA
Audio files: 125
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2003 9:30 am    Post subject: GTMBA - October 17, 2003 Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

James Conner - Opening GTMBA
I went down to Philadelphia on Friday, October 17, to the Rotunda on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania for the latest Gate To Moon Base Alpha (GTMBA) concert. On the bill was a performance from The Great Quentini, oil projections and slides from artist David Gerbstadt, and music from Axheron and Artek. There were other artists as well, including James Conner. And of course there was free vegetarian food provided by the beloved Chef Jeff; it was delicious.

As usual GTMBA it was very enjoyable and totally confusing simultaneously. The GTMBA concerts are scheduled to start at 8:00 PM. We got there at 8:30; I'm used to consistent lateness at these events. At 9:00 they started setting up the chairs and the performances started at about 9:15. During this time there were various sound checks and equipment adjustments.

When the performances did start there was, as usual, no announcement, just somebody started talking into a mic with what sounded like a drum machine in the background. Most people assumed it was another sound check, and they continued their chatting while paying no attention. After a few minutes I deduced it was in fact the opening performance, a poet/musician by the name of James Conner; real name Colin O'Hara. How do I know his name? I went up and asked him after he got off the stage. He said these poems were part of a project he's doing with video that will be broadcasted on a public access cable channel in Philadelphia. I'm glad James Conner was given a chance to perform. I wish I could have understood more of the words; the drum music was too loud; drowning out the voice most of the time. When I could understand the words, there was intense emotion and strength of feeling. I look forward to hearing more in the future.

David Gerbstadt
During all of the performances there were projections by David Gerbstadt. David uses colorful oils and other solutions with glass and an overhead projector. These create images that hark back to the light shows from the 1960s. Just because these are old doesn't mean they don't work anymore. David's projections are quite artistic and they give the GTMBA performances a continuity that helps quite a bit. The Rotunda was decorated by many of David's large fun-loving paintings which I like very much. Also, there were occasional 16mm films, including scratch films and strange marked up educational films from the 1950s.

The Great Quentini gave two performances, both of which were entertaining and provocative. The Great One read two poems which had a deep spiritual message. They advocated not believing in certain popular deities that are espoused by contemporary religions, but in more dependable universal eternal phenomena, like gravity and evaporation. He also did a poem about how everyone has a special gift for the world; his being making interesting hats. And he was wearing interesting hats, with lights and strange and wonderful appendages.

The Great Quentini
Quentini's second set was pretty spectacular, even for him. He entered with a loud blast of noise made by motors he was wearing - part of his costume - and some amazing shoes made from what looked to be huge aluminum lighting reflectors. He stood about 9 feet (3 meters) tall and with each step there was a loud metallic thump sound - quite scarey actually. He was also sporting several red flood lights. The picture doesn't do him justice; unfortunately it was very dark. The final piece was a percussion work done on instruments of Quentini's own design. Here is a very short video, just to give you an idea: click here. He plays beautifully.

After Quentini's first set, there was ambient music coming from the house's PA system. People started milling around and talking, pretty much ignoring this. After a few minutes, I noticed a young man sitting on the edge of the stage focusing his attention on his laptop and working the mouse occasionally. Apparently this was another performer. He never announced his name, or what he was doing. Neither did the people who run GTMBA. So, I assume he wants to be anonymous. [Edtor's Note: on another topic Linda Leigh said this was possibly Jason Snell, aka Bombadier.]

Artek
Artek is a two person band from the Lehigh Valley, just north of Philadelphia. Unlike so many performers these days, these guys have a professional attitude; they boldly announced who they were and where they were from. This made my day. Artek plays live synthesizer music, some ambient and some more of what might be called space rock, or even Berlin School (Tangerine Dream) style. Much of there music is tonal (pitch based), and sometimes it is very rhythmic and repetitive. There were no computers to be seen, and no playback of prerecorded material. Artek's music is obviously well rehearsed, but improvised throughout, pretty much like jazz musicians approach music. There were several short pieces, about 5 to 7 minutes each, rather than long soundscapes. These guys exhibited a certain amount of refreshing showmanship, with dramatic gestures when they played. I don't know, but I bet they are x-rockers. They even acknowledged the audience's applause, which by the way was enthusiastic. I like them too, the more experimental stuff especially.

Axheron
Late in the evening, another duo started a set. I don't know who they were, perhaps Axheron. Of course, there was no announcement. They used Mac laptops and a few auxiliary devices including a very small synth with smaller than standard sized keys. Their music was ambient of a genre that is sometimes called micro sound. It looked to me like there was a lot of playback of prerecorded material. Their music was very laid back and relatively uneventful, but still quite interesting. I had to leave at midnight and unfortunately didn't get to find out who these guys were, or to tell them I liked their stuff. Maybe someone will post that information. [Editor's note, October 22, 2003: I received email; this was in fact Axheron.]

All in all, I enjoyed the evening. I've learned what to expect and what not to expect at these events. I think the people who put on these concerts do the artists and the audiences, especially newcomers, a disservice by not communicating. Still, I greatly enjoy hearing live electronic music. These concerts exude artistic expressiveness and creativity. This more than makes up for some roughness around the edges.

Next month, on November 21st, I'll be playing as a part of Xeroid Entity. I hope that if you are in the area you'll be able to come. If you do come, please come up and say hello. You'll be able to tell me from the others; we are going to identify ourselves. We're funny that way.

_________________
--Howard
my music and other stuff

Last edited by mosc on Fri Aug 26, 2005 6:58 pm; edited 5 times in total
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egw



Joined: Feb 01, 2003
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2003 3:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

The link for Artek doesn't seem to have anything to do with Artek, as far as I can tell.
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gina_foundationarts



Joined: Oct 21, 2003
Posts: 33
Location: Philadelphia, PA

PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2003 10:15 pm    Post subject: GTMBA October 17, 2003 Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Hello
I sincerely appreciate the time you put into attending GTMBA, photographing it, and reviewing it. I have but one direct criticism of your review: the event occurred on October 17. You list it as November 17. Otherwise, rock on!

The next time you are displeased at GTMBA, please voice your concerns. You'll know me, after Nov. 21, and if I am not around, please tell the sound tech. I can't read the minds of people in the audience, and it does me a disservice to suggest improvements to a group of which I am not a part. Finally, i have registered for this great forum. However, before that, it would have been beneficial to everyone if you had contacted me directly-or asked others for my contact info, if you didn't know who runs GTMBA-with your suggestions. I'm very open to advice.

In 1999, I began helping Aharon Varady book GTMBA. Relatively quickly, i found myself booking half or more of the acts, and scheduling several GTMBA shows at once, in addition to promoting them. In the summer of 2002, aharon moved, so I was left alone not only with GTMBA, but also with The Rotunda, which UPenn hired me to coordinate. I schedule, promote, pay out, blah blah blah all events there (2-5 per week), or at least oversee the scheduling, promoting, payment, blah blah blah.

I would say that my experience with concerts, which includes pulling in great artists as well as large crowds, is not the reportoire of an amature, and is darn good for a woman of age 25.

That said, i agree that i need to announce the acts and thank the participants at GTMBA. Honestly, with the running around during the event, which includes gathering acts for the next set, advising David on his projections, stocking the restrooms, making sure that the sound tech is ok, positioning the lights if need be, etc., I sometimes don't get back to the stage area until the artists have actually begun. Or, i am completely beat. In the past, i have had others announce. In fact, at the April 18 GTMBA, which was the last of the 2002-2003 season, Frank the sound tech announced, and it worked well.

Truth be told that a suprising number of artists don't even want to be announced. In fact, the amazing Mikronesia is so different from the norm that he wanted to perform on the balcony, not the stage, the last time he was at The Rotunda. Still, I want to make people aware of the act who is up next. Before organizing these types of shows, I worked at large concert venues where the artists might announce themselves. Otherwise, there was no info given. It was assumed that people came to see the acts and would know who was who. i understand that for a more experimental event like this, not everyone knows who is who. I'm working on a more creative form of announcement, like using David's projector to project the logo of the band on next, or using a few volunteers to hold cue cards, if you will, that announce the next act. I do not want to use the typical format of announcement. Artists introducing themselves is 100% fine. i'm merely speaking about myself as the organizer- turned- MC.

Unfortunately, this month, all artists loaded in on time, but the sound tech was late, arriving at 7:30 because of car trouble. However, in 9 cases out of 10, the show begins late because acts are late, or soundcheck takes too long. If i could control this, I would, but I am neither the driver for the bands, nor the sound tech (who is usually Frank Bellina, and does an amazing job). as you can attest, I'm sure, Friday traffic, especially in inclement weather, is sometimes impossible to navigate in Philly.

As for the music, this is a series for the experimental. Sadly, some artists are better on Cd than live, or they are not yet in tune to each other enough to pull off enjoyable improv sets. Still, I want to showcase what is going on in experimental subgenres. I recall someone referring, months ago on this forum, to GTMBA as a crapshoot. that is quite correct. Also, some acts are in their 50s, while others are in their 20s. It is not always possible to please every listener, since we all come from different backgrounds and even different eras in music. So be it. The aim of GTMBA, as I see it, is not to turn on "quality control," but to provide a forum for these subgenres.

Thanks for letting me explain a few things here. i will see you on Nov. 21. Again, I definitely respect and appreciate your effort in attending, photogrpahing, and reviewing GTMBA.

One final word not about GTMBA but about this forum-why don't you make some fliers (I could do so if you wish), inviting people to join up? We could leave these at GTMBA, where many interested parties could read about the group and decide for themselves.

Thanks.

_________________
Gina Renzi
Exec. Director
The Rotunda
4014 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
http://www.TheRotunda.org
215-573-3234
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mosc
Site Admin


Joined: Jan 31, 2003
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Location: Allentown, PA
Audio files: 125
G2 patch files: 60

PostPosted: Wed Oct 22, 2003 6:03 am    Post subject: Re: GTMBA October 17, 2003 Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Welcome, Gina. Thanks for joining up. Great post.

gina wrote:
the event occurred on October 17. You list it as November 17. Otherwise, rock on!

Wow, thanks for noticing that. I just fixed it.

gina wrote:
The next time you are displeased at GTMBA, please voice your concerns. ... I'm very open to advice.

You bet. I apologize for not doing this. Thanks for being such a good sport. You and your crew do a great job. My criticism was partly in fun, although I can see how it wouldn't come of that way.

gina wrote:
I would say that my experience with concerts, which includes pulling in great artists as well as large crowds, is not the reportoire of an amature, and is darn good for a woman of age 25.

I'd say so too. People for other major cities ought to come to Philly to see what you are doing here. We need this kind of venue all over the world. That's one of the reasons I like to write reviews for GTMBA. Hopefully it will inspire others to do this kind of thing. There are electro-musicians everywhere.

gina wrote:
I recall someone referring, months ago on this forum, to GTMBA as a crapshoot. that is quite correct. Also, some acts are in their 50s, while others are in their 20s. It is not always possible to please every listener, since we all come from different backgrounds and even different eras in music. So be it. The aim of GTMBA, as I see it, is not to turn on "quality control," but to provide a forum for these subgenres.

Yep, but you know you can win a lot of money playing craps. Cool
It's one of the things I like about GTMBA, it's a place where people of all ages, backgrounds, genres, nationalities, or whatever come just because they love to see artists and musicians out there pushing the envelope. There is no "in crowd", or should I say "in style". Rolling Eyes
For this you deserve a lot of credit.

gina wrote:
One final word not about GTMBA but about this forum-why don't you make some fliers (I could do so if you wish), inviting people to join up? We could leave these at GTMBA, where many interested parties could read about the group and decide for themselves.

Great suggestion. I'm make sure we do that. I'd like to see comments here by performers and artists alike.
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egw



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PostPosted: Wed Oct 22, 2003 6:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Hi Gina
I think I speak for many others when I say that I truly appreciate what you're doing with GTMBA. It's the sort of thing that is badly needed in the world of music, yet there is nothing else like it. It has really helped to put Philadelphia on the map with respect to ambient and experimental music. Keep up the good work!
Concerning announcements, at Different Skies we projected the name of each act (and the members) on the screen as they were getting started. That worked very well, and people said they appreciated it.
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gina_foundationarts



Joined: Oct 21, 2003
Posts: 33
Location: Philadelphia, PA

PostPosted: Wed Oct 22, 2003 1:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

thanks for the kind words. how did different skies go, by the way?
i'm going to ask david if i may use his overhead projector to announce the acts that way. i may even ask bands to design their own announcement card (hint: xeroid entity can do this for the nov. 21 show). i have no problem interacting with the crowd, but i really don't feel like they want to see my sorry self standing there Smile

_________________
Gina Renzi
Exec. Director
The Rotunda
4014 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
http://www.TheRotunda.org
215-573-3234
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egw



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PostPosted: Wed Oct 22, 2003 6:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

My account of Different Skies is here:
http://waltzer.crosswinds.net/differentskies/account.htm
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