Disastodrome is a three day festival of voice and vision where the reputations of 18 avant-garage heroes will be collectively tested. These boundary-breakers, forever outside the world of music-by-numbers, are led by Pere Ubu founder, David Thomas.
David Thomas is "one of America's most enigmatic and visionary talents" and a vocalist of genuine originality. His avant-rock group Pere Ubu is a byword for the uncompromising pursuit of musical vision. His improvisational trio, David Thomas and two pale boys, is the latest in a line of pop experiments intent on rewriting the rules of music production. He has collaborated with musicians of all sorts from the steppes of Siberia to the canals of Manchester, lectured on "The Geography of Sound in the Magnetic Age" and, in 2002, starred in the West End production of "Shockheaded Peter."
Disastodrome 2003, staged at the Freud Playhouse, UCLA, Los Angeles, February 21-23, 2003, and produced by UCLA Live, includes live performances from Pere Ubu, Frank Black, and The Kidney Brothers, as well as the first appearance in 27 years of the legendary Rocket From The Tombs and the American premiere of David Thomas' rogue opera, Mirror Man. The festival will be hosted by Johnny Dromette, creator of the original datapanik range of goods and services, and will feature a variety of lobby events, displays and motivational apparatus items called Foyerdrome, one component of which is the roving Voices From The Fringe, delivered by neo-beat poet Bob Holman.
The early Disastodromes (1977-78) were staged at a radio theater in a broken part of Cleveland and featured burst steam pipes, flaming sofas and voice-of-doom winos lurking in all the dark corners. Plus some good bands. And Steakburgers by Eddie. David Thomas: Disastodrome!, a 4 day festival staged by London's South Bank Centre, England's largest arts complex, April 2-5, 1998, took its inspiration from those early debacles.
"The South Bank came to me and said here's a bunch of money, what do you want to do?" David Thomas says. "I thought about the spaces involved-- the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and National Film Theatre-- and I thought that what these spaces needed was a real mess. Not just that kind of well-conceived, artistic, placed-just-so mess you get a lot of but genuine, good ole confused disorder on a truly amateurish and liberating level. We delivered the goods."
The Mirror Man cast is David Thomas, Frank Black, Robert Kidney, Syd Straw, Bob Holman, Van Dyke Parks, Keith Moliné, Andy Diagram, Georgia Hubley, and Jack Kidney.
Rocket From The Tombs features David Thomas, Cheetah Chrome, Craig Bell, Richard Lloyd & Steve Mehlman.
Why Disastodrome? And why now?
Disastodrome! continues a series of events conceived as an antidote to datapanik. [In 1976 David Thomas and John Thompson noted that in a state of data overload all "new" information will only serve as a sedative-like drug, a junkie culture becomes inevitable, dataflow can be the only social imperative, and that discrimination, or any other hinderance to dataflow, must become anathema.]
We call it disasto so nothing can go wrong.
Dataflow Junkies pursue a highly ritualized course. A break in routine can lead to disaster... to datapanik! The symptons of datapanik are easily recognized: doubt and fear of the moment.
Is what I'm experiencing meaningful... enough? What will my friends say? Is everything okay?
Disastodrome creates a space in which the ordinary citizen can be freed from that burden of anticipation haunting the data-junkie. Only Disastodrome can guarantee that nothing will go wrong.
"It's a mess!" The cry goes up. "It's a disaster!"
Oh no, my brothers, Disasto reassures us that everything is going absolutely according to plan. Relax. Let it wash over you.
Questions are a burden to others. Answers a prison to oneself.
Disastodrome recognizes that culture only happens in secret. Outsiders see the cold ashes, never the sparks, never the flames. Disastodrome is a festival without a safety net. In 1998 the South Bank Centre, London, commissioned David Thomas to stage four days of Disastodrome at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. And now, finally, Disastodrome is coming to America... and where better to pitch than in LA!
Friday February 21 Freud Playhouse, Macgowan Hall, UCLA, Los Angeles
Foyerdrome Frank Black (acoustic) The Kidney Brothers David Thomas and two pale boys The founder of The Pixies, Frank Black makes a rare solo acoustic appearance. Robert & Jack Kidney, from the legendary 15-60-75, repeat the duo performance as The Kidney Brothers that stunned a Purcell Room audience in London. Grown men cried. David Thomas and the two pale boys generate strange new shapes, rolling stories and sonic panoramas out of spontaneous deconstructions.
Saturday February 22 Freud Playhouse, Macgowan Hall, UCLA, Los Angeles
All Star Cookout & Lecture Foyerdrome Mirror Man Steakburgers By Eddie is a stalwart of every Disastodrome since 1978. As he cooks David Thomas will deliver his lecture, The Geography of Sound in the Magnetic Age. Mirror Man is the acclaimed "rogue opera" brought to America for the first time. It features David Thomas, Syd Straw, Frank Black, Robert Kidney, Bob Holman, Van Dyke Parks, Keith Moliné, Andy Diagram, Georgia Hubley, George Wendt and Jack Kidney. "A tour de force" says Mojo. "A contemporary update of the Kerouac era" says The Guardian. "Evokes the restless hobo spirit of Harry Partch" says Time Out.
Sunday February 23 Freud Playhouse, Macgowan Hall, UCLA, Los Angeles
Custodians of the Avant Garage
Foyerdrome Rocket From The Tombs Pere Ubu Richard Lloyd (Television) joins the line-up of Rocket From The Tombs which features founding members David Thomas, Cheetah Chrome and Craig Bell as well as Pere Ubu drummer Steve Mehlman. This will be the first RFTT performance in 27 years and marks the return, albeit briefly, of a band described by The Wire as having blazed "amazing trails." Village Voice credits the band with "the darkest, most desperately unforgiving sound." Billboard says "flabbergasting stuff." The festival is closed by the incomparable Pere Ubu. Greil Marcus says of them, "Pere Ubu boards a train that passes through a modern nation as if it were an ancient land." Robert Palmer in the New York Times says, "Pere Ubu was either ahead of its time or out of step altogether; the band's earliest music sounds as if it could have been recorded yesterday, and is likely to keep sounding that way for some time."
Disasto Tickets: Tickets are $30 a night ($15 for UCLA students).