Last night Dorkbot, Tonight Lynott

Last night I ventured over to Location One to attend the Dorkbot Great Music Dorkout of 2007. Well, actually, I stopped at Matt Umanov Guitars first to see if they could repair my acoustic electric. No dice, they told me it would cost more to fix than it would to buy a new one…but I digress.

Dorkbot is a worldwide series of meetings where folks who do interesting things with technology, or “people doing strange things with electricity” as their tagline goes. I have to say, it wasn’t at all what I expected. The presentations were interesting enough, but I walked in expecting some interesting performances. There was no live performance, even when a crowd member requested one from the designer of an electronic woodwind controller. The highlight was probably the MEAPsoft software which allows you to create plugins for chopping up and reconstituting sound files. They did some really interesting things with Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”; definitely worth checking out. Like I said, though, I walked in hoping for some interesting performance. However, that wasn’t really the point of the night, so I can’t blame anyone else but myself.

I was especially disappointed by the Princeton Laptop Orchestra, which is exactly what you might imagine, a group of people sitting on stage doing there best engrossed with my laptop at starbucks impersonation. This was the presentation that actually attracted me to dorkbot in the first place…I was hoping to be pleasantly surprised. I wasn’t. I should have checked out their website first.

The presenter and organizer of “PLOrk” (as it’s called) especially rubbed me the wrong way with his answer to the final question of the night:

Audience Member: Can you hum a memorable tune from one of your pieces?

PLOrk guy: Well <hums a traditional melody from one of the songs the group performed>….I’m not sure I understand the question.

…yeah, right. You didn’t understand the question. I’m sure PLOrk is doing some interesting things, but there just doesn’t seem to be much music there…unless you consider those white noise cds music. Listening to a discussion about the musical validity of the project and hearing some willingness to question even the basic assumptions about what they are doing would have gotten a lot of respect for the project from yours truly.

Why does it seem like every group of likeminded individuals or even people with a roughly common interest have to be offended and/or dismissive of any ideas or questions that might challenge the validity of what they are doing. How boring.

Don’t get me wrong, it was an interesting night, and I just may give dorkbot another try at some point. It just wasn’t what I was expecting.

Tonight, the anniversary of Phil Lynott’s from Thin Lizzy’s death, I’ll be watching “The Rocker: A Portrait of Phil Lynott” and thinking about doing anything I want to do. I’m sure I’ll get exactly what I’m expecting this time.

Keep rocking!