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Zoe Keating/Loop!station show

I saw Zoe Keating and Loop!Station on Saturday night in San Francisco. I 
unfortunately missed the other performers who were part of this 
all-cello evening (dubbed "Mondo Cello"), though I understand they were 
more conventional bands using cello as an instrument in addition to 
guitars and drums.

Loop!station is a duo, cello and vocals, made of Sam Bass (who I knew 
from the interesting cello/violin/drum trio Deadweight) and Robin Coomer 
(who I knew from the really really loud rock band Birdsaw). They had a 
bunch of different Loopstations (natch) between them, plus at least one 
DL4. Sam's silver-painted (or could it have been metal??) cello did a 
very nice job of setting up varied textures, with his loopers, which are 
definitely used as an accompaniment with his live playing being the main 
focus. My girlfriend actually didn't even realize he was looping until 
he started doing some percussion stuff. Robin would do some looping 
also, as well as some generated harmonies. She has an ASTOUNDING voice.

They definitely play "songs" with "parts", which I suppose the 
Loopstation pedals are pretty good for. It was somewhat amusing watching 
them share patch-switching duties; if one was occupied doing something 
involved, the other would take care of the switches. Though they 
definitely had a lot to deal with technology-wise, it never got tedious 
to watch, and the focus was really on the cello and voice in the 
performance, just with a lot of foot-tapping going on. I really enjoyed 
their set, very passionate as well as interesting musically.

Zoe came out last of the evening with her cello, a couple of Repeaters 
in a rack with a laptop perched on top, and a single floor controller 
(FCB1010, I think). She was the only solo performer of the evening, but 
was immediately arresting with her amazing tone (those low, bowed 
fourths and fifths are like the voice of a god!) and slowly building 
compositions. There were some technical problems (laptop crashes I 
believe), which ironically didn't happen until she introduced one piece 
by describing that it came about while dealing with a technical problem 
on tour. But she handled it well and the problems didn't detract from 
the music. I found it mesmerizing, really really beautiful stuff, and 
never even thought about all the technology happening (well, until the 
crashes). The audience seemed totally captivated too, and definitely 
weren't a crowd of music geeks.

It was interesting in that these were looping performances that weren't 
built from improvisation, and moreover, involved the performance of very 
specific pieces built from very specific loops, as opposed to the 
seemingly more frequent improv-based looping.

Daryl Shawn