Friday, August 16, 2013

irr. app. (ext​.​) public performance #7 @ Lobot Gallery, Oakland 24​-​June​-​2005

In late February 2005 the tour van for the band Subtle skidded on a patch of black ice while driving between cities in the U.S. Midwest, and musician Dax Pierson sustained extremely serious injuries in the resulting accident. Dax had a large network of friends in the Bay Area music scene (including myself and the other individuals that were involved in the irr. app. (ext.) live band), and many of them rallied to help him meet the enormous financial burden created by his subsequent hospitalisation and treatment. Greg Scharpen and Jim Kaiser in particular made a significant effort, compiling the ‘Irreplaceable Hand’ benefit CD and helping to organise a benefit concert in June at Oakland’s Lobot Gallery, with sets by Soft Pink Truth, French Radio, Moe!kestra, Odd Nosdam, Barely Human Dance Theatre and irr. app. (ext.). 

I was not very well-prepared to do another live show at the time, but this was obviously an irrelevant issue compared to the importance of the cause. A few weeks earlier Greg and I had done an irr. performance in Toronto with Recordists William Davison and Sherri Lyn Higgins, so we recycled the costumes used for that and I attempted to stitch together a set that re-worked some of the Toronto material into a trio format. This was a particularly unfocused period in irr. live activity: I had been having great difficulty finding a way to adapt the satisfying but unworkably paraphernalia-heavy approach of the first couple shows into something suitable to the average music venue, and my minimal practical performance experience (and my bandmates’ then nearly-nonexistent technical experience) put a severe limit on arrangement possibilities. 

I’m definitely glad that I participated in this benefit, and I hope that the funds raised did some good for the worthy and much-loved Mr. Pierson. But this turned out to be one of the shows that most made me loathe the whole idea of live performance. The principal culprit on this occasion was a significant portion of the audience: the sprawling Moe!kestra was one of the first performances of the evening, so there was a large number of Bay Area avant-jazz/improv musicians in the room; once their set was finished, these repugnant snobs made a point of showing their contempt for all the other acts by hanging around and chattering loudly throughout the rest of the event. I don’t fault them for not being interested, but it would have been so easy for them to take their conversations outside, or simply to go elsewhere. You can hear this chatter in nearly every section of the recording -- even in the segments where the vocal microphones were not turned on. It was during this performance that I began to contemplate the idea of approaching the audience as an adversary that should be punished rather than entertained. Clearly, I was far too thin-skinned at the time. 

As with other irr. shows of this period, I think the performance ends up working somewhat better as an audio document regardless of the loss of the absurd visual element. This show is essentially a series of odd, subtle textural settings -- almost an audio version of a Schwarzkogler photographic series -- and fortunately lacks the incontinent tooting and honking that marred many of the previous live performances. And although I complain about the lousy audience, I have to point out that there was a small group of very supportive people in attendance that deserve thanks: amongst them Jim Kaiser (who took the photos), Andy Way, and Drew Daniel (who provided his generous help during our set-up). 

As with show #5, a few excerpts from this show were included on the ‘Aspiring To An Empty Gesture, Volume 1’ collection. A bit more scrub and polish has been applied since then, and (as was also the case with #5) a persistent electrical buzz that was audible throughout most of the show has finally been removed.

Released 26 October 2011

Recorded live at Lobot Gallery, Oakland CA on 24-June-2005.

For this event, irr. app. (ext.) was: M. S. Waldron, Greg Scharpen, John Scharpen.

Preliminary mastering done at the Felton Empire Studio in Felton, CA in 2008. Final scrub & polish at Rock Creek Tributary, Hillsboro, OR in October 2011.