The radio interview with Loop The Loop’s musicians, Gene Peterson and Adam Page, that I had managed to hear snatches of—over the clang and clatter of the kitchen at work—simply did not do this show justice. There was, I recall, some banter about rubber squeeze toys, and a brief tootle on a zucchini flute…but the radio announcer didn’t manage to describe the show with more than the usual adjectives “amazing” and “wonderful”, already used indiscriminately on everything—from charity concerts for Japan, to Sunday churchyard cupcake sales.
Which turned out a good thing, because I went to last night’s show expecting 100 minutes of 1930s Jewish-American television humor by two doped-up ex-surfies, pulling homemade instruments out of their Wicked Camper Van. I expected a lot of “Whoa!” and “Hey, Dude,” and to witness musical skills equal or slightly better than those of Toad Suck, Arkansas’ 5th grade band class.
It was nice to be wrong. Peterson and Page cobbled real, dance-able, enjoyable musical pieces together last night, using about 30 instruments—classical, traditional, vocal and body instruments, besides the bizarre ones made from zucchinis, typewriters, or vacuum cleaner pipes—combined with funk, reggae, and carib rhythms. And The Loop, of course.
Performance oriented Liveloopers will take real-time audio samples, and loop these samples on the fly, allowing the musician to sample new material while the current loop is playing. It’s a quick way to extend half-a-dozen sampled instruments: a phrase of saxophone, some toots across the open mouth of a glass pop bottle, some righteous percussion, a bit of spoken word, beatboxing, vocal turntablism, and singing…into one big, rich, layered, harmonious sound…immediately, in real-time, onstage, using whatever you’ve got on hand. Or on your chin.
- Adam Page’s rock Tribute to his beard (included Tibetan throat singing!), using samples taken of ‘microphone+beard+mustachio’ encounters
- a groovy rendition of “Harry John Grove”…the name was provided by a member of the audience, and if I were that eight- or nine-year-old boy, hearing Page beatbox, sing, and embellish my name in funkadelic sounds would probably have changed my life forever. Would not be surprised if Harry doesn’t want to be a pilot, anymore, but wants a Real-Time Looper for Christmas, instead.
- Grant Peterson’s live and loop-free playing of the drums with one hand, and a keyboard with the other (hence the appellation “Phenomenal Percussionist”)
- A showdown between the two that saw Grant playing the life out of a typewriter, bath toys, spoons, and Adam rocking the zucchini, a miniature harmonica (the kind that comes on a keychain) and some awesome didgeridoo using a vacuum cleaner’s pipe.
- A musical confrontation between a child’s pink battery-operated keyboard, and a small pink ukelele
- There was, of course, some very grand music, as well: jazz piano, saxophone, a drum solo of Animal the Muppet energy, flute, and ukelele music.
I’m sorry if you missed this one-night only show…it was a feast for the senses, and good fun, too. Shame people weren’t told more about it, it was really too good to miss, not something you’re likely to experience everyday (not in Darwin, not anywhere, really): two consummate musicians, a hundred minutes of creative, fearless, masterful music, a rich and substantial performance rounded out by a sauce of cheeky fun.