By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Where MASS Ensemble is a “you are inside” experience, the six-piece String Theory is more of a rock band with classical overtones. This minstrel-like multi-instrumental group has covered Ravel and Tchaikovsky, and is fond of perverse meldings: Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ on) the Dock of the Bay” with the Pixies’ “Wave of Mutilation,” or Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” with Shostakovich’s Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op. 40. Cellist Harvey was raised on bluegrass and classic rock before studying the early liturgical music, baroque fugues and Victorian choirs he adapts and arranges for the others. As a dancer, Holly Rothschild took to the physicality of playing long strings, rehearsing for two weeks using cotton strings instead of wire. “The rest of the group comes in and starts writing the music around the dancing,” she says. “The actual song will be a result of the choreography, so we don’t even know what a particular piece is going to sound like.”
This unpredictability and unwieldiness — it takes from six hours to two days to string the installations — has hamstrung mainstream acceptance for MASS and String Theory. “We don’t know where we want to take it, because we’re going in so many different directions at once,” says Harvey. But both ensembles are accessible, allowing audience members to play the strings after their performances; kids and parents stream like spellbound ants to stroke the giant web with gloved hands.
The strings attract other creatures. “It never fails, and it blows my mind,” says Luke Rothschild. “We set these things up, and within a couple of hours you start seeing these little wispy strands coming out from the strings. I don’t know where those little spiders come from or how they figure it out, but after about five hours, there’s a lot of them, like they’re kind of testing it out for the mothership.”
String Theory plays at the Creation Festival at Walt Disney Concert Hall on Saturday, November 8, from 10:45 to 11:15 p.m., and will have its Curve Harp set up for an interactive installation until 3:30 p.m.; and for a benefit for Foundation for Artist Resources on Saturday, November 15, at Barnsdall Municipal Art Gallery; www.stringtheoryproductions.com.