Lars Jan is walking up to his crew and asking if they are comfortable. He moves toward Chat Logs– the noisier half of his team of musicians. It’s hard to say if they are comfortable, really. They are about to play the Whitney Museum of Modern Art, the crowd is getting rather large and they are hooked up to a Martin Kersels sculpture that wasn’t really intended to promote sound. They are turning knobs and shifting their weight around. They say they are comfortable and talk about the noise ending. They have had one rehearsal. They have never played with the other composer/band in the performance. This is their first live show.
In the corridors, the guards meet and prepare for how many people will be allowed to stand inside the concert area. They are boisterous and seemingly not phased by Jan’s wearing a fake suicide bomb. From their perspective, the art is always all the same. Some guy is going to prove that our ideas about culture are false or true. I talk to Alexander MacMahon, the composer with the accompanying quintet. “It’s gonna get weird,” he said.
A large screen behind the performance scrambles in and out of static and man with a helmet-camera prepares to film the event. “Seems that way,” I said. Ryan Downey– one of the men in Chat Logs– nods approvingly as he fiddles with knobs. Oftentimes, anticipation causes our most vulnerable moments. His feet are tapping, his hands are busy.