Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Contains no dAS - Big City Orchestra at Bumbershoot 1993

I happened to dig this one up from the bottom of a very big box of cassettes, long forgotten, stashed away at the back of a closet. Beneath the piles of mail art and demo submissions laid the little cardboard folder fashioned so elegantly by Yr. Host Bobby emblazoned with "Big Shitgrin Orchestra". Inside that little pocket was a letter from Mr Host and a cassette that contained a live room recording of a rather odd Big City Orchestra show from the past.

It was back in 1993, Yr Host Bobby had applied for Big City Orchestra to perform at the Bumbershoot Performing Arts festival in Seattle. Eventually he received the acceptance information and the confirmation that Big City Orchestra was going to be slotted to appear on the "Wild Stage" - coincidentally on the same day the Kinks were playing the main stage. As fate would have it this opportunity to appear at one of Seattle's premiere music festivals coincided with another Big City Orchestra performance that was already booked and confirmed - I believe it was in BCO's hometown area.

dAS gave a quick call on the phone and we came to the conclusion that two BCO performances would occur on the same day in different states and myself and Yr Host Bobby would be the official representatives for BCO at Bumbershoot while dAS stayed behind and tended to the hometown duties BCO had already committed to.

I packed up the van and grabbed Bill Peterson, a long time friend, who had banged a few pieces of metal in Nux Vomica and also had a project called Fresh Meat Cats. This project was best known for its brief stint with maniacal and time consuming tape manipulation, creating fields of washed out sound. We headed on our way up to Seattle, stopping at KAOS in Olympia on the way for a brief radio appearance before arriving at the doorstep of Yr Host Bobby.

We discovered that Yr Host Bobby had also recruited, then Seattle area resident looper extraordinaire, Eric Muhs to join us. Eric was well known for arriving at gigs with a giant pile of - well - um - detritus, accompanied by everything else you can imagine, including the kitchen sink. He did not let us down...

As the day of the performance arrived Bill and I fashioned some stage "costumes" for the show and we all packed up and headed out to perform. When Eric arrived at the stage door he had an entire van packed to the ceiling with 'equipment'. Yr Host Bobby set up his rig and Eric cast his stuff about according to the master plan. As BCO was announced and the set got under way, Yr Host Bobby started the first of many giant tape loops he had constructed that took up a large portion of the stage. The loops and the drones began and a giant pile of garbage - pots, pans, metal, bits and pieces of you name it - crawled up the aisle of the theater, strung together by Mr Muhs and attached to a BBQ Rotisserie at the front of theater - dragging slowly up the aisle inch by inch. The pile of garbage was alive, clanking and tumbling, preventing anyone from using the aisle as an exit and providing a mess of background clatter to the drones. As the drones built, Bill and I appeared, adding more to the mix and dancing about costumed as skyscrapers - or a "Big City".

The show consisted primarily of a series of drones and sampled spoken word and giant tape loops and clatter. Specific references to various "Big City Orchestra Sound Effects" including "The Flying Nun" were announced strategically. At the'll hear...

Listen below or download now from

1 comment:

Kevin Collins said...

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