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April 1999

The Tape-beatles Wow Crowd in Chicago

John Heck at the Empty Bottle in Chicago Chicago fans of the Tape-beatles welcomed two of the Prefab Four (Dunn and Heck) with open arms last Saturday night, April 24, at local watering hole the Empty Bottle. This was the first time the group had appeared in the Windy City since a couple of unevenly-conceived early 90s gigs at the now-defunct Club Lower Links. Attendance this time was excellent, spurred on by a Critic’s Choice piece by Douglas Wolk appearing in the free weekly Chicago Reader. The anticipation of the packed house was brought to a high pitch through sets by media manipulators Animal Charm, who presented sound and video, and the pure-sound stylings of the nine-piece Medium. Interestingly, the latter group, whose membership changes from show to show, included old Tape-beatle cellist chum Fredrick Lonberg-Holm, known for his friendly demeanor and his brilliant cello work. Fred’s association with the group dates back to the time he sat in on the 1990 production sessions of Music With Sound, offering much-needed perspective and advice to the then-fledgling group.

Among the other path-crossers who showed up to take in the scene were former Tape-beatle Paul Neff, Minneapolis sound artist Jon Nelson of Escape Mechanism, and Jay Niemann who, with Heck, formed the Less Than Adequate Band in the 80s, whose work prefigured the Tape-beatles in many ways. Rachel Reynolds dished out Tape-beatle trivia about one unspeakable incident with shoe laces, and a parking-lot run-in with bowling rednecks as she tended the group’s CD sales table.

The Tape-beatles risked it all by arranging a row of 25-year-old 16mm projectors atop overturned milk crates on a borrowed bar table. This assemblage sat on a foundation made out of a disassembled security door supported by 10 cases of bottled Huber Bock (thanks to a generous donation from the People’s Republic of Delicious Beverages). Upon this makeshift structure based, as it were, on the drink-of-the-masses, there took place a last-minute projector repair made necessary by a slipped drive belt that was failing to deliver power to the film transport. As the clock ticked, the repair was executed amidst the madding crowd, Dunn cracking open the case and re-tracking the belt while Heck held the eager crowd at bay through a clever ruse of panicked looks, dull witticisms and twirling screwdrivers. By the time the starting bell chimed it seemed as if the veteran showmen had pulled off a witty improvisation, a small joke to break the ice. The projector functioned well through the showing of Tape-beatle ’Polyvision’ stand-bys Matter and The Grand Delusion. Special thanks to Philip von Zweck of WLUW for arranging the show, and many thanks to Bruce, Matt, Che and all at the Empty Bottle whose kind assistance made the show go so swimmingly.

Upcoming performance

Chicago. On April 24, WLUW will bring The Tape-beatles to Chicago to present their ‘expanded cinema’ renditions (in PolyVision) of their works The Grand Delusion and Matter. The show will take place at the Empty Bottle, 1035 N Western Ave. Opening for The Tape-beatles will be Medium and Animal Charm. Tickets will be $7 and the show will begin at 10 pm.

• For more information, contact the Empty Bottle, 773/276-3600.

Find out what a Tape-beatles/Public Works performance is like.

Wait a minute. Did I read that right?

!!! Reversion. Yes, you did. It is The Tape-beatles who will be performing in Chicago. That is because, during the production of our new CD Good Times, we came gradually to the conclusion that the new work was more in a ‘Tape-beatles’ vein than was Matter. So, for the time being anyway, our collaborative efforts will appear under the name ‘The Tape-beatles.’ The name ‘Public Works’ may appear in the future as the nature of the projects dictate. For now, ‘Public Works’ will be used to indicate the producing entity for ‘The Tape-beatles,’ as well as this web site. You can think of ‘Public Works’ being the overarching organization from which all output from our various projects flow.

In other news, the triple exclamation point so prominently featured on the logotype for Intel’s Pentium III processor was, as some of you may know, originated by The Tape-beatles in 1988 as part of the graphic package for their recording A subtle buoyancy of pulse. Although our use of the motif predates Intel’s by about 10 years, we will graciously permit them to continue to use it, since we claim proprietary ownership over none of our intellectual ‘property.’ Can one own the wind?

This is (no lie). From the US Copyright Office’s official FAQ:

58.How do I protect my sighting of Elvis?

Copyright law does not protect sightings. However, copyright law will protect your photo (or other depiction) of your sighting of Elvis. Just send it to us with a form VA application and the $20 filing fee. No one can lawfully use your photo of your sighting, although someone else may file his own photo of his sighting. Copyright law protects the original photograph, not the subject of the photograph.

Thank you, Lang Thompson

• See also Lang’s World Cinema Review.

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