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Event Preview: Open Goat
By Oct 14, 2010 Arts

This Saturday, down at 1918 ArtSpace at 3pm is something called "Open Goat", which is a massive, free-form, collaborative music and art jam open to all.

Musicians, noise-makers, painters, poets, artists, screamers, visionaries, reprobates, anyone, everyone, is invited to get down with everyone else, bring something that makes noise, and create a big brouhaha together in the spirit of shared creativity. Or something like that.

SmartShanghai talked to Tom Mangione, aka Ho-Tom the Conqueror, a local musician and roustabout, and one of the organizers of Open Goat. He goes into depth a bit more about it and answers our chief concern about this thing:

What if it just sounds like a bunch of shit?


SmSh: So tell us what this "Open Goat" is then. And where did the idea come from?

Tom Mangione: The idea came from a discussion I had with a friend of mine in college. He was the first person who told me about an "Open Goat". Basically, he'd get a bunch of people together in his basement with instruments or whatever they could use to make sound. They'd just play for hours and hours and record the whole thing, then go back and listen to it and see what happened.

We were both philosophy majors so this spawned all kinds very abstract discussions about order coalescing out of chaos, the possibilities of non-verbal communication, the nature of music as a function of environment and whether it was actually possible to impress a woman while making really high pitched squeals with a recorder in her general direction for several hours at a time. Like all this philosophy stuff, nothing was ever resolved. Although I'm prepared to say that the thing with the recorder is definitely not a good idea.

SmSh: What does the name mean?

Tom Mangione: I never found out what the name meant. It was simply just what my friend called it. I do have my theories though, if I might wax hermeneutically for a moment...

I think the word "Open" has two very important connotations. First, it's open in that we want as many people to participate as possible. It's free to come, and you don't have to be a professional of any kind of participate. Second, it's open because you can do whatever you want. Barring setting the gallery on fire or doing something that might endanger people or their property, you can do whatever you want. More on that in a second.

"Goat" should also be looked at two ways: 1) One it's a damn stubborn animal that will eat anything that you put in front of it. The Open Goat is like that, too. Bring whatever you got. Make sounds. Draw on the walls. Do some interpretive dances. Whatever. 2) The whole thing is not meant to be taken all the seriously. This is not the event for people who want to have an exclusive stage to perform. It's a collective experience. Something you do for a good time or laugh. Getting someone's goat, if you will.

SmSh: What sort of resulting sound are you expecting? Unholy cacophony?

Tom Mangione: I can't say for sure. It will probably be pretty percussive, and accompanied by loud hollering, maybe singing. I really have no idea. The JZ Free Jazz guys are going to be in attendance so they'll probably have their instruments. I think we're going to have a clown, too. So... whatever noises a clown makes will be in the mix as well.

SmSh: Are there any restrictions on instrumentation? I understand it has to be acoustic? No electronics? Why is that? Can people sing, yell, shout?

Tom Mangione: This time around we've decided to limit electronic instrumentation. People can still bring their electronic synths and all of that, but we will not be providing amplification or power. There's already plenty of folks making noise electronically in Shanghai, and we didn't want it to become a showcase for them. Plus, the electronic stuff is f-in' loud. Once you let those guys in, they could just blow everyone away. We wanted the Goat to be as inclusive as possible.

People are wholeheartedly encouraged to sing, yell and shout whatever they want. I hope we'll get some folks speaking in tongues, but I'm not going to hold my breath.

SmSh: And it's an hour long jam session then? And you're recording it? What are you going to do with the recording?

Tom Mangione: We'll do it for at least an hour, but as long as people are participating we'll keep going until the gallery tells us to stop.

We're planning to record it. It'll probably result in throwing the raw mix up on soundcloud and then trying to get people to remix it.

SmSh: What if it just sounds like a bunch of shit? Who are you going to get to remix it?

Tom Mangione: If it's shit, then it's shit. There's a distinct possibility that it will be total shit. On the other hand, there could be some really great sonic moments that come out of the thing. I think that's what makes it so exciting. None of us really have any idea what it's going to be like or sound like. It's really all a matter of the dynamic in the room.

That being said, I don't expect catchy or intuitively interesting music to come out it. I've contacted several electronic musicians in SH and told them about it. They seem interested in giving the thing a listen. Of course electronic musicians are like any other musician, getting them to commit to anything that they aren't 100% gut-bustingly interested in is difficult. So... we'll see. If some remixes come out of it, so be it.


Open Goat is this Saturday at 1918ArtSpace. Event details here.
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  • Steve o

    May all your goats be open Ho-Tom. I hope to see you there on Saturday.


    optimistic and realistic at the same time. thank you.

  • Stewie Griffin

    if it sounds like shit it might still sound better than logo\'s sound system.

  • Crumpets

    Ho-Tom rocks. Er, conquers. Glad to see his stuff getting some press. xo

  • Asdas

    So how was it???

  • flyswatter

    It was noisy, but ace

  • Asdas

    Already on soundcloud?

  • julesobrien

    it was so interesting. loved drawing whatever the hell i wanted and seeing others drawing whatever the hell they wanted on the walls. brought a toy guitar and a toy gun to add to the cacophony (a strangely soothing cacophony...)
    im interested to see what else this Tom Mangione manages to arrange here in Shanghai!

    loved it. would like to hear the outcome

  • ferret

    The Open Goat is up on soundcloud:

    Thanks to everyone who came!

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