“It’s a huge adjustment for me and my audiences, but I love it.”
Neil Fridd is talking about Terror Pigeon’s newest performance experiment. Fridd is the heart, soul, and brains behind Terror Pigeon (formerly known as The Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt). Formed in 2007, Terror Pigeon is an ever-evolving musical project. The lineup has swelled and contracted over the years, with Fridd holding it down as the group’s fixed center.
Regularly touring the nation, Terror Pigeon has built up their reputation as an unpredictable and formidable live act. Playing music that is rhythmic, loud, and offbeat, their shows are sweat-soaked dance parties. Horns blare and synths bleep, conga lines snake around the dance floor, and Fridd and his cohorts convulse onstage like the music is electroshocking them. They even bring their own set decorations, like the time they brought a tall light-up snowman when they played the old Trunk Space with dance-punks Captain Ahab.
Considering their penchant for body-rocking, you wouldn’t expect Terror Pigeon to make music that you could lie down to. That’s exactly what Fridd is doing now, though, as he tours the country with Terror Pigeon’s new project Surround Sound Lay Down. The show is a “hexaphonic sound experience”, with the entire set performed for an audience lying on the ground!
“All the speakers, including the subwoofers, are at person-level,” Fridd explains. “Their bodies will exist right in the range of the sub.” Terror Pigeon surrounds the audience on all sides with speakers and subwoofers. “Each speaker is totally independent, so I can mic send whatever I want to them.”
While the music has been composed with a sedate, prone audience in mind, it doesn’t mean it will be an evening of sleepytime music. “It’s pretty challenging to describe because the experience is inherently chill, cause you’re not moving, but it’s also not ambient music. It’s pretty eventful and full sounding- there are a few moments that are sonically intense… at one point, there’s about forty seconds of just pure noise.”
Fridd is eager to create a musical experience that people can live in, crafting a sonic environment that fully envelops them. While the idea of playing music to an audience lying down on the floor might seem strange, it’s also not unheard of. Nurse With Wound mastermind Steve Stapleton did a 12-hour-long sleep concert back in 2012, playing a marathon of dark ambient music while the audience dozed off and dreamt inside a huge industrial space. “That’s like the big budget version of this show,” Fridd laughs.
Fridd hadn’t heard of Stapleton’s concert until our interview; he also notes the key distinction that his show isn’t intended to make people fall asleep. He does, however, know some other artists working in similar territory, proving that great minds do think alike. “We’re playing a show in Atlanta where afterward our buddy William will be playing an hour-long drone set for a sleepover show!”
Speaking of sleepovers: Fridd suggests that audience members come to his upcoming Surround Sound Lay Down performance at the Trunk Space like it was one. Terror Pigeon encourages audience members to bring blankets, pillows, foam mats/rolls, large stuffed animals, and anything else that would make their experience lying on the floor as comfortable as possible.
When asked if anyone had dozed off during one of his lay-down sets so far, Fridd chuckled. “Not that anyone has told me!” Fridd and his cohorts will be touring the hexaphonic show through May. A new “more traditional Terror Pigeon” album is being mastered right now, according to Fridd, and should come out later in the summer. He remained mum on the possibility of the Surround Sound Lay Down music getting its own release in the near future, so if you want to have a chance to hear it, you’ll have to grab a pillow and hit the floor when Terror Pigeon come to town. This time, though, you can leave your dancing shoes at home. ASHLEY NAFTULE
Terror Pigeon will be performing with saxophonist Curt Oren on Wednesday, March 22nd at The Trunk Space in downtown Phoenix.