Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Neighborhood Bass Coalition Years/ 1996 to Present

NBC capsule history:
In June 1996, Dr. Crystal Mess moved into the apartment/art studio at 1333 Grove street, where das and I had our Big City Orchestra headquarters. Little did I realize that a whole new era of noise was starting, so to speak. September of that year saw my last BCO gig (as will be detailed in the BCO chapter). Around our house post-das, and around the corner at Renee's place, we began to form the basis of the Neighborhood Bass Coalition (along with me, Josh Wilson, and Rob Wortman {then currently also in BCO}, among others). The March 22 gig (poster above) is a very early NBC live show. NBC from the beginning was about harsh noise, deep bass, no, make that VERY deep bass, and crazy beats (I was getting very fond of hardcore jungle and gabber at the time...). We were also all DJs with our own astounding collections and styles who would tag-team DJ sets here and there, and at home in the studio.

Hmmm, here I have an 'NBC Highlights' list that was jotted down recently:
we played in Golden Gate Park a lot, yup, that's detailed below, and at Warm Water Cove, also, more details below, played on local radio stations regularly, were shown playing live in studio and on location on my TV show, MINDWRECKER (more about that elsewhere in the Autobioblog), which began in JUNE 1999, we had a section for our CDs at the local AMOEBA record store (it was rare for them to take CDRs, but they liked us), I did my first all-original-music DJ set at Cellspace in December of 2003, where the DUBCRACKER SUITE was heard for the first time. that was a special night for me, to have finally amassed enough good music on CD by me and the NBC to construct a whole set out of it and nothing else. Josh Wilson of NBC was producing CDs at home long before me, and finally got me set up as a solo digital studio entity in summer 2001.

There are so many gig and musical highlights to mention about the early years of NBC, a few faves were: The song BIKE RIOT, an early hardcore anthem by me, inspired be Atari Teenage Riot and my then-current bicycle activism and Critical Mass riding and subsequent anti-car agression. well, not half as aggressive as SOME folks back then, mine went mainly into songs and art pieces; as we'll see here and there in the blog. A couple of album projects that we spent a great deal of time on: HAND IN MY HEAD, all about puppets and their operators, became a three-year project with many guest stars, and is a personal favorite of mine, and also the Pufendorf Studio production SONIDOS DE VERDAD, an experiment in Noise-Dub music, which took so long to sculpt and burnish that we lost an original member of the band in the process. I'll spare the reader going on and on about all of the other brilliant CDs that we cooked up from 1997 to 2004, as there are a lot of funny projects.
A notable later gig was our show at THE LAB in San Francisco, which featured Dr. Crystal Mess, a founding member who didn't play with us so much anymore , and Dave Gardner, of the band TIPSY, who also used to work with me years before in BCO-related projects, and in the infamous TURNTABLE (AKA: MALHARMONIC) ORCHESTRA. The CD SONIDOS DE VERDAD received a big show to kick off it's release with a crazy little circus of acts in June 2006, at the Hotel Utah, SF. Our last show in San Francisco to date was in July 2006 at the ELEMENT LOUNGE, and also featured the talented wizard of the turntables Dave Gardner.
Oh, and my notes here mention that the SONIDOS CD was getting lots of airplay locally on the radio around December 2006.
The band continues to exist, despite many miles between us all.

About DUMPAPALOOTZA:
Once upon a time in the mid/late 90's when there were a lot of homeless people building and living in FERAL UNAUTHORIZED DWELLINGS on the Albany, California landfill site, also known as the 'Bulb', Dr. Mess began to use the site for outdoor/all night parties/gigs/art events, paticularly in an area of the Bulb known to us as the Ampitheatre; this spread into a codified 'yearly' event staged by the NBC called DUMPAPALOOTZA, as a jab at the currently-popular Lollapalooza multi-band festivals. There were five of these events, with food, equipment, PA gear, and many artists trucked in on foot and by bicycle and bicycle-cart. Not an easy task as this former-landfill was a post apocalyptic nightmare of concrete buttes and valleys and hills, rebar, washed-up Bay debris, and every sort of on-site art project that could be devised by people who visited regularly, later an designated group of artists, the SNIFF collective, installed a ton of terrific and inspiring work there, using all of the bizarre assortment of available materials on the island-like peninsula.
These also evolved into a very BICYCLE-centric celebration of Car-Free culture, and I began to do a special 'Set Piece' event each year to really wow the crowd and challenge myself.
For instance, at Dumpapalootza III (video {hopefully} below), I built a small Barbie-Sized SUV, rigged with explosives, that would drive around the site, and then, as night fell, and Barbie busily chatted on her miniature cellphone, a fire would erupt under her hood, and she and her vehicle would be blown to pieces, to the sheer delight of the crowd.
The following DUMPA event had a larger vehicle (found on the street in SF, as were most materials used in these gigs- recycled things would be sculpted into new art) with a giant sock-monkey in it getting much the same treatment (I was less inspired that year). Ahhh, but the final DUMPA, number five, was a doozy- as a warm-up I had built a COP-CAR-PINATA to use at that month's CRITICAL MASS in SF, which I swung above the crowd on a pole and got volunteers to bust open with a stick (it was full of sweets and goodies, and some little racecar-shaped candy I found), then at the actual Dumpapalootza, I painstakingly built a six-foot-tall COP PINATA, out of cardboard, and dressed in colored crepe-paper, just like a 'real' Mexican-style pinata, filled it with treats, and then climbed up over the Ampitheatre and swung it over the crowd until the succession of volunteers destroyed it. I love building beautiful props that are going to be wickedly abused and trashed.
Those gigs were SO fun, although a LOT of work to stage. I should mention that at the first DUMPA, the local Albany police came out on a tip (SRL had recently been burning/blowing up shit out there) and told us to shut down and go home (at like, midnight, many of us high on mushrooms, and in no shape to move gear anywhere), and then they crept away, I guess supposing that we'd fold up and go away. We didn't. It went on to be a spectacular event, the inspiration for more of them, and the 'Albany Police' became an in-house joke thereafter.



Below, an early NBC gig in Oakland with TOYCHESTRA, and a poster for the CRYING MAN festival, at 'Warm Water Cove', our answer to Burning{Cash}Man, and another unauthorized outdoor event.
Pictures and a flier (by Josh) from one of our many unauthorized pirate shows in Golden Gate Park, where amplified music gigs are strictly verboten, but they occur anyhoo. I've ridden/walked up onto some swinging ones in that park. Fine food, multiple acts, lotsa noise, DJ sets (at our gigs). I recall one gig in particular at the Horseshoe Court was very fun; but they were all swell. The weather in the park frequently doesn't cooperate, though, and can be pretty chilly. I notice that we're all bundled in coats in these shots, which we probably would have rather not been. I suppose I can cop now to the very secret fact that we (well, I helped some) grew pot in the park, not far from this very spot.
Good times, good times.

Below: NBC live at N.I.M.B.Y. Warehouse, some Dumpapalootza event (there were five) at the Albany Landfill, Spanganga (I think), and Cellspace.
NBC live at Union Square, San Francisco, May 18, 2005 (below). This show was booked by Marie Riccobene, who co-starred in my 1993 play Existential Children's Stories. This marks the third time I've been lucky enough to play outdoors in downtown SF, with supplied electrical power; it's always a gas. Bloody hot day, though. May and September are when such high temperatures are more likely to occur in SF. Sharing the bill with us was the multi-talented Bioflava, of Pufendorf Records fame. People rocked out (as they often will) to some pretty bizarre grooves that day, even though mostly we played it "safe" with a pretty easygoing set.
Of particular note were the fake-o "announcements"(a great idea by Nick, and SO typical of the kind of comedy scripting I love to do) that came on throughout the set, making outrageous claims and statements to the public wandering about the Square. Such as "Pigeon Season Open, Mayor Decrees" and so on. they were a hoot. I wisely enlisted a friend to operate the video camera on a dolly for the film version, giving it a nice look.
A gallery of some NBC (and Mindwrecker) CD covers past and present:

Neighborhood Bass Coalition, and Dumpapalootza swag and cool items can be found here.
So, this is the final chapter of the Online Autobiography. From here on, the blog reverts back to it's original assortment of music, art, ephemera and children's books. I hope you enjoyed the stroll "down memory lane", as a friend so aptly put it. I did try to keep it interesting! At the same time, I had been wanting for some time to try and do a comprehensive list of my gigs and theatrical plays and so forth, so now I have a better timeline for some years that were crammed full of activities.
Cheers!

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10 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wild man, a wild story, full of sound and fury... signifying SOMETHING.

1:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I miss NBC. Lots of good parties at GG Park and Albany dump. I still have pictures on my website. Marcy

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