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Experimental Guitar Night #1

On February 21st, I played at the Experimental Guitar Night #1 at Howlers in Pittsburgh. I was not originally on the bill but got on when I asked after Sadie Powers had to drop. I hadn't felt good most of the week. I still don't feel too great right now. I'm talking about mental health mostly, but I was actually physically ill the morning of the show. I threw up after eating breakfast, presumably from some old mustard I put on a sandwich.

I was pretty tired during the day and slept for a lot of it. I woke up just in time to leave for the event. I should have left earlier. I got there right before the first performer, Aaron Myers-Brooks, played.

Aaron Myers-Brooks played a sort of classical/speed-metal. I wasn't a huge fan. He obviously worked pretty hard on it with big musical scores written out and some fancy samples. It really didn't connect with me at all though. I don't really appreciate things that seem overly complex to me. I'd rather see someone sort of mess up or play something that's simple and emotional in some manner (preferably not something that is particularly melodramatic or angsty though).

Next up was Derek Bendel, who I have seen and played with many times. Derek asked the audience if we wanted to see improvised musick or written pieces. I don't like the classical, somewhat indulgent idea of a "piece" so to speak, I mean it's basically the same as just saying you wrote a song, so I voted for the improvisation. The audience seemed to agree, but it was close. A few people, myself included, suggested he just split it, and he did. Derek played dreamy, minimalist semi-blues to a more gritty sludge pseudo-noise. There were some cool tremolo effects.

Dave Bernabo was the third performer. He always seems like a very well-respected and important artist in the community. His set was pretty cool, with blues and jazz chords and then some drone tones, quiet during the first half and loud and distorted in the latter half. This was accomplished using two Freeze pedals. I thought it was interesting and enjoyable.

I played fourth. I started with a more melodic sequence that descended into a dark lurking max of a dry desert. Buzzing drones and storm clouds filled the air. I played my guitar with a pop can and threw it into the audience. Ghostly chimes interrupted the sound followed by more storms. It was not a long set, shorter than I thought, but I'm happy with it. I streamed it live on my Facebook.

Devin Sherman played a really interesting song last, using a Digitech Whammy pedal and an EBow sitting on an untouched guitar to generate tones. He played a few ambient, Eno-meets-Dave Gilmour songs after that, but the first really stood out to me for being so unique.

It was fun to see all of the different things at the first Experimental Guitar Night. I am also glad that I got to play. A lot of people were at the show and most stayed the whole time. There will be a second one in a few months, and I hope it is just as successful.