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LA Loop Feste Review
Well, I, too, was at the loop feste last night. Herewith is my detailed
review. Grab a cup of coffee, if it isn't yet too late, and enjoy.
The feste was held, essentially, in an unrented office in downtown Burbank.
To get to the concert room, I had to walk through a reception area, another
smaller room where some of the musicians were getting ready to go
and then into the concert room itself. I saw an email that said the concert
room might hold 20-25 people; having been in there now, I can say that if
had had that many, it would have been very tight indeed! It wasn't very
As it was, we had maybe 15-20 people there.
I remember walking through the reception area and into the smaller room
leading to the concert room. I almost ran into a guy there with a guitar
strapped on his shoulder. For a brief second, neither one of us said
anything. He had that characteristic wide-eyed look of someone staring down
the headlights of an oncoming Mack truck. He clearly had no idea who I was
and he had no reason to for we had never met. So, in just that one brief
second, with a smile on my face, I thought about introducing myself. "Hi,
I'm David Torn," I wanted to say. lol. But I didn't want to cause a heart
attack so I didn't. I gave him my real name. Turned out that was Andre.
He played first, starting a few minutes later at about 8:00. I can
appreciate the fact that he was nervous. Andre seemed eager to get his set
over with because he constantly asked what time it was after nearly every
song. I don't understand why he felt that way. The guy soared! He did it
with guitar and he worked the EDP extensively. He is a master of the EDP! I
have an EDP myself, that I got a few months ago. But I also have a ztar
and a Kurzweil K2600 rack synthesizer. And since I've never really had a
synth to play with before, I haven't had a lot of time to spend learning
EDP. I'm still a beginner. But, my oh my, was I impressed. I didn't know an
Echoplex could do all that stuff!
Andre performed perhaps 4 or 5 pieces in a 30 minute set, and I enjoyed
one. He had a number of loops going and, since I was sitting off to the
and couldn't see what buttons he was pressing on the EDP, I asked Gary
Lehman, who was sitting next to me and had a better view, what he was
pressing. Gary said it was Next Loop. Made sense. Andre had a wide variety
of loops going on, switching between them in a way that gave structure to
each song. It was nice. He also worked Undo a pretty good bit too, and he
clearly has some powerful guitar technique.
So I don't know why he was nervous. That boy is gifted.
Ric was next. He was playing through a Line 6 (I think - it was a green
box), and an EDP. He tended to lay down backing tracks more in the nature
chords, and then play on top of them. He prefaced his set by saying that
after Andre's wonderful set, he felt that the audience would likely find
overly atonal. Well, I didn't. Ric had some really nice riffs going. He'd
lay down a backing rhythm as a loop, and then play on top of it. One of his
bands that he's producing was also at the gig, so I know he does other
things, but he can play too! There were a number of lead guitar licks he
snuck in that were clearly indicative of someone who's done their shedding!
Ric was using borrowed gear and he had said that his own EDP was down and
he hadn't played one in about a year. A couple of times he had a great loop
going on the EDP, then wanted to overdub on it, but mistakenly hit the
Record button again which, of course, kills the loop. I've done that too. I
could see he got a little frustrated (as have I). One or two other times he
started something off, and then killed it because it wasn't exactly what he
I mention all of this because I really dug *everything* Ric did. Even the
things he killed to start over on something else. I was groovin throughout
the whole set. Man, the guy was rockin! He even sung a song too, with all
this massive loopage happening behind him.
Call me a throwback to the counter-culture days of the past, but I enjoyed
the ambience during Ric's set as well. When Andre started up, it wasn't yet
dark and the light was coming in through the windows. When Steve played
later, he wanted to have a light on so he could see what he was doing. But
during Ric's set, Tony (I think) went around and lit a bunch of candles and
turned on a soft, dark red light. The room was bathed in this eerie red
and only the candles provided a subtle counterpoint. Then, during the set,
here's all this screaming loopage coming at ya from Ric! It was fantastic!
I remember, at one point, looking around the room. Now, I'm an oldster,
comparatively speaking; I played music professionally mostly back during
70s and early to mid-80s. Back then, I was a rabble-rousing, bass playing,
kickass party animal who lived for rock and roll. I'm more mellow now. But
last night, I was struck by the difference a few years could make. I mean,
think of it. This is how great musical movements begin, right? A coupla
performers, pushing the boundaries, doing something new that isn't even
really yet known about in mass society, getting together with a few folks
the audience who are open to new experiences and new ways of doing things
and new ways of enjoying life. And it all happens in some relatively
non-descript back room with poor lighting in a relatively-deserted area of
downtown where most people quietly come and go without much regard for the
wildly creative revolution that might be brewing in their very own
backyards! Who would have thought? It's like a counter-culture. Small
yes, but someday, if the music is good enough, and the musicians compelling
enough, then perhaps with the potential to take over the world. It was
But it was also so different from the old days with which I am familiar.
Back then, nearly everyone in the audience, and probably nearly all the
musicians (except for me, that is), would have been smoking cigarettes.
Especially during Ric's set when the lights were low and the ambience was
right. But, back in the ol' days too, there would - undoubtedly - and more
importantly - have been one or more folks pulling out the doobers too. Yep,
that would have happened back then for sure. And you know what? I felt
nostalgic last night. If someone had offered up a doob, I would have had a
puff. :-) In the ol' days, there would have been a real cloud of smoke in
Last night, though, nobody smoked anything; I'm glad nobody smoked
cigarettes. I would have been surprised if someone had pulled out a reef.
The times - they have clearly changed, and overall for the better it seems.
But, I confess, my need to *learn* from the experience aside, I would have
had a puff on a doober. Yep. Woulda done that. But don't tell anyone. I
rock and roll, and pushing the boundaries. Who gives a fuck about a stupid
law that should have been repealed long ago? People need more, not less,
personal freedom, I think.
Steve was up next. The problem with Steve is that he makes it all look so
easy that, for a second, you *almost* find yourself saying, "Yeah, I could
do that too." But, I can't, I know that. I feel like a hacker next to
He is very gifted, obviously. And he is a master of his gear. He was
through two Line 6s (I think) and that expensive Lexicon effects box. He
some *really* interesting things with his loops, starting with a backing
loop, soloing over it, adding new supporting loops and effects, soloing
more, etc. And all the while, playing the sweetest, *cleanest* melody lines
on that bass. Truly, they were about as clean as I've heard in a good long
while. And, as a sometimes bass player myself, I can attest to the fact
it ain't easy to play that smoothly! Watching his hands, you can see that
this is a guy who's done his shedding, and then some. Also, I noticed a lot
of vibrato in his fingers. Very, very few bass players use their fingers
vibrato. I was pleased that I, at least, do.
I also liked the way Steve talked with the audience between songs about
he was going to play next, even offing a few humorous lines here and there.
I especially liked the intro he gave "Bittersweet"... that's the song he
wrote for his uncle who passed on. It was great to know some of the
background for what he was about to play, and it's a nice touch to
communicate with your audience in that way. It brings us all closer
and makes us feel more a part of the performance. All us loopers would do
well to learn by his example. It works.
By 11:00 or so, it was all over. There was a short Q&A period, and then
discussion as various people got to know one another. Then, we all headed
In short, a great time was had by all. I can't wait for the next one, and I
would hope that we do this on a regular basis. These things are fun!!!