UCSD’s First-Ever Rig Rant

A Behind-The-Scenes Look At Contemporary Instruments Of Our Time

Electronic musicians unite at UCSD’s first-ever Rig Rant! In order to stay relevant in the ever-evolving electronic music industry, it’s crucial to be up-to-date with the latest devices and musical contraptions. On Thursday, Jan. 14, UCSD held an electronic musician’s meetup, Rig Rant, which showcased musicians and manufacturers as they explained and demoed some of their latest musical set-ups.

Being a somewhat underground event, the turnout and overall format was initially unclear. However, as the night went on, it was apparent that the intention of this event was to provide musicians with insight on some of the latest electronic instruments, opportunities to experiment with them, and inspiration to produce new pieces.

“The Rig Rant series is intended to be a hands-on show-and-tell of electronic instruments, which seems most appropriate for a college campus,” explained Trevor Henthor, a member of UCSD’s Music Department and also curator of Rig Rant.

Casual in structure, Rig Rant – held at UCSD’s Stage Room, or what used to be Porter’s Pub – brought in musicians and manufacturers with industry-standard music equipment that was set up by the time many of the guests arrived. The event’s line-up consisted of the following:  Mandala Drums demo by Vince De Franco, Ableton Push 2 demo, prettyhowtown, Vytear, Hipster Modular, Medical Grade, Daniel Noguera, The Looming, Otro Rollo, and more.

As each performer explained their set-up, the crowd was able to ask about the equipment, with questions ranging from price inquiries to more detailed descriptions of how the instrument works.

The Mandala Drums demo, for example, brought forth an explanation from Vince De Franco on how the different areas of a Mandala Drum produce 27 distinct sounds and how these sounds can be processed and incorporated into a music piece. Javad Butah did a later demo of the Ableton Push 2 controller, which has become one of the most popular and well-known instruments of electronic music.

“For me, it was a thrill to meet Vince from Mandala Drums and Javad from Ableton,” said Henthor. “These companies are creating innovative and playable instruments that are driving the future of music.”

Though rather confusing to someone who knows absolutely nothing about electronic instruments, Javad demonstrated how to use the Ableton controller in a slow and organized fashion. Being a musician himself, he created his own short musical piece throughout this demonstration. Having a hip-hop background, his piece sounded like “chill” music with its slow rhythm and intense bass.

These companies are creating innovative and playable instruments that are driving the future of music.

Because of this event’s casual set-up, one of the highlights was the audience’s ability to experiment with the instruments after the demonstrations. Though the equipment requires prior knowledge and experience in the field, the performers were friendly and willing to help participants create a simple beat with their innovative software and cutting-edge instruments.

This was the first meetup of the Rig Rant series, and expectantly not the last.

“Our hope is to do this monthly and bridge that gap between open mic, workshop, and performance,” explained Henthor. “Hopefully, the UCEN will continue to provide the space.”

One of the highlights was the audience’s ability to experiment with the instruments after the demonstrations.

This event may be getting on its feet, but it has proven to be a convenient opportunity for aspiring student musicians to gather the information, ideas, and connections necessary to stay up-to-date in the fast-paced music industry.