Racket Fest was a mini festival of noise, experimental and improvisational music hosted by me on Saturday, October 21, 2017 in an outdoor racquetball court at Liv Apartments (formerly Ventura Apartments) in Gainesville, Florida, in the same spirit as my Apartment Music concert series (2008-2014). All performers were required to use battery-operated gear played through the same small 5-watt Pignose amplifier (with the option to play acoustically).
After having taken a three-year break from my Apartment Music series I started to get the itch to start hosting noise and experimental shows again, but for the first new one I wanted to do something kind of different. From time to time over the years I had made dictaphone recordings in the concrete-block racquetball court near the front of my apartment complex and the acoustics in there were great! I asked my apartment complex manager if he would mind if I hosted a "musical" event there on a Saturday afternoon and he readily assented.
I issued a call to new and old friends and told them that I would like to host an outdoor show in the racquetball court where I live, and I got a great response. There is no electricity available in the racquetball court, so one obvious stipulation for all performers was that they had to use battery-operated or acoustic gear and instruments.
Furthermore, I stipulated that all performers who needed amplification would be required to play through the same 5-watt Pignose amp. My hearing had been bad for years (and still is!) and I wanted to avoid any further damage! And besides, a small battery-operated amplifier followed along well with the minimalist aesthetic of my Apartment Music shows.
Requiring that all performers used the same small amp and requiring the use of simple plug-and-play gear helped to level the playing field between the performers and put the emphasis on expression and interaction with the other people in the space. High volume is a crutch. I am a big believer in the notion that Noise doesn't need to be loud to be good. Using high volume in one's Noise (music) is really about one thing: assaulting the audience rather than sharing and interacting, and to me that's boring. If I'm going to be assaulted I would prefer to stay home, walk my dog, take a nap, anything other than that. I also limited each performance to 10 minutes. I'm known as the king of stipulations, but there are well-considered ideas and motivations behind all of my stipulations. Bereft of lazy crutches such as high volume (big amps), lots of gear, and an entire century in which to play enabled the performers to concentrate on the use of imagination and being in-the-moment.
In my Apartment Music shows and the Laboratory Music improv festival series I had always emphasized that the audience was an important element. By listening closely, deeply, intently the audience members (most of whom are usually performers themselves) complete the loop, complete the performance by engaging with the performer in creating the moment. I am not interested in impersonal, cold, LOUD, in-your-face Noise music in a live performance setting.
So, at about 1:00 PM all of the performers walked from my apartment to the racquetball court for an afternoon of fun sound-making. The weather was fairly good, not too hot, somewhat cloudy, and that helped to make it a fun event. It can be HOT even in mid-October in North Central Florida and we were fortunate that the weather was such that we didn't burn up.
After every third performance we all strolled back to my apartment to get bottled water and I made my famous crack coffee for everybody!
Vasectomy Party (Hal Harmon)
Orphling (Jeremiah Paddock)
Amigos (Timothy Flynn and Kit Clock)
Hell Garbage (Dylan Houser)
Petit Laffite (Lumen K)
Fiver's Stereo (Shatter Wax, Jay Peele)
Heirloom (Andrew Chadwick)
Bluesharp (Josh Tippery)
Oblongata (Mike Berchou)
The Glyph (Aaron Abrams)
Here below you can view a slideshow of photos from Racket Fest that were taken by me, and I believe that Lumen K and Andrew Chadwick took some of the photos too.
Below the slideshow you will find Vimeo video players of the performances by each of the participants. Most of these videos were filmed by Andrew Chadwick, using my video camera, and I think that Lumen K shot one or two to help out. The videos are downloadable at Vimeo.
The duo of Amigos were our special guests from Michigan!
At the time of the event and in my subsequent original promotion and presentation of the event on Facebook I called the event "Racket Music Fest". In the days and weeks following the fest Dylan Houser always referred to it as "Racket Fest". At first this irritated me a smidgeon, but after a while I started to like "Racket Fest" better than "Racket Music Fest"! So, I have retroactively re-named it Racket Fest!