Communal Music

Last night Charlie called me up to go see Lucky Dragons and Javelin.  We showed up at 8:30, and Lucky Dragons went on around nine.  It was just one guy kneeling on the floor, surrounded by bizarre instruments.  The music was pretty abstract.  But what was awesome was the way he incorporated the audience.  One “instrument” consisted of some kind of electronic box with cables coming out of it that had rods on their ends.  He passed the rods out to people in the audience, and when they were shaken they made distorted cracking noises of different pitches.  He had another box with four (presumably magnetic) black circles on top.  There was a pile of rocks on the floor next to it, and he would pick up a rock, slowly bring it over the circle, and it would make this incredible symphonic sound, like one hundred synthesizers each playing one note that varied depending on the position of the rock.  He handed rocks out to people in the audience, and they crowded around the box taking turns making rock music.


By far his most amazing “instrument,” however, was something that looked like the first instrument with small metal brushes instead of rods.  He handed them out to people in the audience, but they didn’t make any noise.  Finally, he took the hand of someone and placed it on the hand of the person holding the instrument, and it made another symphonic electric noise.  Once people understood how it worked, they grouped around the people with the instruments and added hands, raising and lowering the pitch and intensity of the sound.  Lucky Dragons did some singing into a microphone, and some playing of the thumb piano, while other people in the audience played cymbals and gongs he passed out.

I wasn’t a big fan of the music, I’ll say that.  But I’ve never before encountered a performance that’s so interactive, and so communal.  Everyone in the room was smiling, and when people realized what the electric current instrument did, the brightened up like children and held hands and grouped together by the dozen.  It’s a different kind of performance.  I didn’t like the music, but I, and everyone else there, had a better time than at most shows.


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