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Lucky Dragons bring 'Live Sprawl' to MOCA

February 19, 2010 |  6:07 pm

If you've seen the Lucky Dragons play, you know that the title of their Saturday performance at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA -- "Live Sprawl" -- gets at the heart of a loose but communal energy they've been cultivating for years in Los Angeles' experimental music scene. Sarah Anderson and Luke Fischbeck, the duo who remain a constant in Lucky Dragon's amorphous band-cum-art collective, often kneel on the floor  amid a tangle of ad hoc instruments, computers and keyboards, spinning out a dizzying yarn of music that may or may not be based on songs from any of their dozen or so albums. You can get the gist by watching the video above from a show at Farmlab in 2008.

This weekend, the sprawl will be heightened. If their concerts before represented the twinkling grid of Los Angeles, then the MOCA showcase will be all of Southern California. Part of MOCA's ongoing Engagement Party series, Lucky Dragons will perform a four-hour set of interactive performance and music for museum members with some of their frequent conspirators, including Rob Barber of High Places, Butchy Fuego and DJs from the Wildness collective.

Speaking to Pop & Hiss at an Echo Park coffeehouse near their apartment, Anderson and Fischbeck attempted to define the willfully nebulous evening.

"There's never going to be one point of focus, like there is at a concert," Anderson explained. "There's going to be many things happening at once. You will be able to move from one performance to another."

"Eventually, the evening will coalesce into a Lucky Dragons performance," Fischbeck added. "But the audience will be able to change the sound by touching each other on the skin."

What Fischbeck is referring to is an ongoing experiment, an ever-evolving synthesizer of sorts that the band developed in 2005 that's made with conductive material and software that interprets the different touches it receives. It tunes through bio-electricity, creating chords through contact. Hence, the sexy-silly name that Anderson and Fischbeck have given it: Make a Baby.

Their copulation-promoting gadget is just one of the many interactive devices that will be part of "Live Sprawl." Piles of recorders will be on hand for music-making. Lights and LED displays will respond to whoever steps near them. It's all designed to fuel DIY energy, encouraged by the collaborative environment the group has conceptualized over the last three or so months.

The night will bring a few firsts and rarities for the Lucky Dragons. For one, Anderson will "serenade" a Kiki Smith sculpture and other artworks with a saxophone, an instrument she's only recently picked up. And, making a small concession to the logistics of a large crowd wanting to watch them, Anderson and Fischbeck -- who nearly always eschew stages -- will perform on risers. But the rise will be modest, and it will still be in the middle of the space so that everyone can see them.

"We don't want to treat performance in the same ways," Fischbeck said. "We want to be as transparent as possible."

-- Margaret Wappler

Lucky Dragons at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, 152 N. Central Ave., L.A. 7-11 p.m. Saturday. MOCA members only; become a member at moca.org/members.