In this article I review my performance last night at the plug:dos headphone festival in San Francisco.
First, the venue itself. 5lowershop is in a warehouse near the junction of highways 280 and 101 in San Francisco. It’s at the edge of the Bernal Heights neighborhood.
The venue and its surroundings have that seedy edge-of-the-city feel that I probably wouldn’t want to live in but nonetheless often find intriguing and romantic. It’s just another part of the quintessentially “modern” world.
The interior matches the exterior, a jumble of areas within the warehouse, including the main performance area. The space is quite porous with the outside, and I noticed several cats wander though, including the grey fellow and a small black-and-white kitten. They were presumably feral cats attracted by the warmth, activity and possibility of food. Feral cats are an inevitable part of urban environments, but it’s still heartbreaking to see them this way. I was also concerned for them because of the dogs that were present, fortunately the dogs seemed to be pets and quite mellow.
The atmosphere of people crowded in a warehouse listening to headphones was quite unusual to say the least. Some of the performances were quite interesting, including a serinate for voice and hammer-dulcimer, and of course several acts mixing guitar, analog synthesizers and turntable. The analog synths didn’t strike me as a good fit for headphone performance, and thus avoided them myself (as described in my article on the preparation), but they did a good job of keeping the sound within a reasonable range.
Despite the best efforts of the organizers, whom I liked and thought did a good job overall, things tended to run rather late, and I ended up going on 9:40PM, two hours after my scheduled performance. But I think it went well musically, pretty much meeting my expectations for mixing ambient and rhythmic/punctuated material while keeping things mellow for the headphones. I did bounce around and repeat elements more than I expected, but such is the nature of improvisation, reacting as things unfold.
The equipment (Dell Laptop, Emulator X, E-MU 1616m, E-MU Xboard 25) performed flawlessly. I did make a direct recording on the laptop, and will be posting that shortly. I am also planning to make that the first release in my planned podcast series.
UPDATE: you can now listen to the audio from this performance. Enjoy!