Tony Conrad played Monkey Town twice, but the most memorable was in February 2008
Tony Conrad played Monkey Town twice, but the most memorable was in February 2008. He dressed in a sort of ‘classic’ broad-striped black & white prison outfit. Then, he laid on the floor where he’d created a large black & white pattern based on da Vinci’s Vitruvian. Then, he rigged two video cameras above him and we fed those into the 4-screen system where two screens were a crazy b&w chroma key and two screens were unaltered. AND THEN, he played the first half of the set by rigging dental floss through his mouth/teeth and played his violin drone by moving his head with the thread. Brooke Hamre Gillespie accompanied on cello.
The whole set-up was done with a playful lack of pretense and the effect was mesmerizing, meditative, visually tweaker, and purposefully vaudeville.
This felt like a master lesson in how to present experimental music. Dour-faced earnestness does not equal profoundness. A tincture of humor is good for the soul.
Did he ever perform this elsewhere? Probably not. Both sold out shows (just 90 lucky souls) were intimate and epic. I have no photos, only a miniDV cassette sitting in my parents basement.
I love this interview, the tranny appearance is so deadpan natural, doesn’t miss a beat. And his take on Chicago, kills it! And then the apple eater, "There’s room for everybody, don’t you think so?" Fucking brilliant and hilarious.
I hope you and Merle are scoring a brilliant fiddle concerto, "where the heavens fall apart".
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