Rhodes to Ruin

Prepared improv at the Oakland Box.

In the ’60s, Pete Townshend made a lot of people happy by destroying his guitars and amps onstage. While this tradition of cathartic frenzy has continued with countless rock bands, the true spirit of the act lives on, somewhat more thoughtfully, in the avant-garde. “This Rhodes,” says Eric Glick Rieman of his electric piano, “I own it, and if I want to, I can cut it into pieces. All those years of piano lessons are paying off in my angst. There’s kind of a sense that this is the thing that drives you and it’s also the thing that kills you, and you want to kill it.”

Rieman, a Berkeley-based improviser, composer, and multi-instrumental performer, will be playing his prepared and extended Rhodes Tuesday night at the Oakland Box Theater with Bilge/ Radiolaria, a ten-piece new-music ensemble. The group performs structured improvisations and member compositions with tuba, trumpet, bassoon, viola (though the violist will be absent at this week’s show), percussion, sousaphone, guitar, flute, computer, saxophones, voice, and Rieman’s electric piano and waterphone. The project was born in the Mills College community, and came together last year when Rieman asked the members to play one of his pieces, “and then it just kind of kept going.

“The last concert that we did was a free show in the tunnels up around the Marin Headlands,” he continues. “Someone wrote a piece for it, and a lot of it sounded like the environment up there. So the tubas were blowing these foghorn sounds, and it was pretty amazing, up in those tunnels. Some of those tunnels, the delay just goes forever, so it’s a really great place to play. This group is a lot about location and spacialization [sic]. So at least two of the pieces at this show at the Box, the players won’t necessarily be on the stage. They might be in the audience, they might be on the balcony.”

The Oakland Box is located at 1928 Telegraph, and the show starts at 8 p.m. Admission is on a sliding scale from $6 to $6 million. Info: 510-451-1932.


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