March 2013


By Joe Foster

I turned forty in September, so while I’ve made a point of bookmarking the barest highlights of many old shows (the time a girl’s hair caught on fire as she accidentally leaned back on a candle during a Super Unity show; the Peevish guerilla show at a sports bar—it had a piano!—when a bar patron named Yella joined us for 45 minutes of improvised rapping; the Brooklyn loft show in late September, 2001, where JP rode a bike around the apartment while trying to play an alto clarinet and then there was vomiting later; Gonzo Murakami in Nagoya with Bryan Eubanks and Bonnie Jones; the Relay Funeral; Bonnie & me at the NorCal Noise Fest two hours after I landed from Seoul; the basement gig in Boise when, during the next act—Mirah of K Records—an actual art debate sprung up between the earnest young singer-songwriter and the audience over whether what me, Bryan, and JP had just done was music and nobody seemed to notice we were still in the room; the English & Sachiko M show at Erstquake when Sachiko reminded me I was standing, Wile E. Coyote style, over a 500-foot drop, having run full speed off the cliff; the time Peevish played in an anarchist book store with another band playing simultaneously on the other side of the room and we were pretty much barred from the venue for life—oh, and Terri Sue Webb was fronting the other band, naked as a jaybird; playing drums in Ezra’s band Uneasy without having been taught any of the songs; Super Unity’s regular Friday gigs at the traffic circle in Laurelhurst, Portland, serenading rush-hour traffic; playing an ad hoc with Lord Nightmare 666 in New Zealand; duo with dancer Linda Austin for which all I had was a single wooden chopstick; almost a year of daily playing in my Hapjeong apartment in 2002-3 in trio with the dueling construction sites outside my North and West windows; Otomo’s New Jazz Orchestra with the amateur Shinjuku Philharmonic at the Pitt Inn; that show at the Jasmine Tree Chinese restaurant when Toto had ordered food and it was delivered to him at his drum throne during our set (he stopped, paid, and ate it, pretty much); the worst trio ever: me, Alfred Harth, and Ami Yoshida on my first trip to Tokyo; You, Of All People, Should Understand; Mantonal at Ethos; The Dolphin…), due to my limited long-term memory and the damage I’ve inflicted upon it, my “most memorable show” is one of my most recent.

My plan was to do as little as possible. I didn’t even go to a single museum. I took a grand total of three photos.

In March 2012 I had a rare break from my busy schedule (I started a business with two partners a couple years ago and it’s really demanding, but doing well, thanks for asking!) and more or less picked Vienna as a random destination for a 1-week escape. I arranged to stay with Dieter Kovacic and Billy Roisz, and didn’t bring any music gear or expect to play at all. Dieter was hosting a gig at the rhiz, there was a ppool workshop I could go to if I wanted, but other than that, my plan was to do as little as possible. I didn’t even go to a single museum. I took a grand total of three photos. I probably spent too much time sitting around the apartment, making a nuisance of myself for Dieter and Billy, and one of the ways I have of annoying those around me is my habit of whistling. Like most people, Dieter was a bit surprised by my whistling and encouraged me to play a brief solo set during his rhiz night.

I was up first. The train overhead happened, I set the stopwatch on my phone, and started whistling, no mic. The audience was very quiet, pretty damn civilized, in fact, and I did my thing for a while. Actually just under 8 minutes. I turned my stopwatch off and said thanks and then on to the next act (the young computer musicians who had just learned to use ppool the day before). Went for a beer. People were nice about it, mostly the usual “how do you make those sounds?” kind of thing, but my favorite was the group of kids (probably early 20’s?) who asked me how I synchronized my lip movements and facial expressions to the sounds coming from my phone. Spent the rest of the week successfully doing nothing (not entirely true—two of my three photos were taken the day after that show), and had a hellish flight back to Seoul via Beijing on Austrian Air. Not my best show, not my biggest show, and I’m sure in a couple years (months?) it will no longer be my most memorable show. Shit, I’m not even convinced it was a good show. But I did enjoy it. Thanks again to Dieter and Billy for being such gracious and easy hosts. ■

Photo Credits

Joe Foster.

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