eliza berkon is a features writer and musician based in washington d.c. 

RhizomeDC is Hosting a 24-Hour Concert This Weekend

Your typical concert experience seems to be getting longer and longer these days.

First, you get there early to have a shot of staking out a floor spot close to the stage. Then, you scroll through your phone in line waiting for overpriced craft beer and a lukewarm soft pretzel. When the lights finally lower, you’re forced to endure some unfamiliar opening act for their 45-minute set before roadies run out to reset the stage for an additional half-hour. Then, the headliner emerges and plays for an hour or two, followed up with an obligatory encore and, all too often, a second encore. By the time you’re safely out of the venue and into the scrum of tipsy folks waiting for a Lyft, upwards of four or five hours have passed since you left home.

But heck, that’s nothing compared to the epic affair now in the works at RhizomeDC. This weekend, the arts space will welcome The 24-Hour Show, which is exactly what it sounds like—an interactive music and art experience that runs from 1 p.m. Saturday to 1 p.m. Sunday. Visitors are encouraged to tote along instruments, art supplies, puppets, reading material, and various other tangible and intangible materials, including “cognitive destabilization techniques.”

Corey Thuro, a member of the Baltimore-based improvisatory music ensemble Myelin Nation (a take on the biological process of myelination) that’s co-hosting the show with Rhizome, brought the idea—something neither Myelin Nation nor Rhizome has ever attempted—to his bandmates a few months ago via a Facebook chat.

“I said it sort of half-jokingly to them, and then they were down for it,” he says.

So what can visitors expect? The event kicks off with a group meditation and then proceeds with a nonstop musical performance. Thuro, a multi-instrumentalist, says he and his bandmates plan to perform for the duration, taking turns one by one for brief breaks so that the music plays continuously. (He jokes that fellow bandmate Maria Shesiuk has offered to snore into the microphone, if need be, to keep the “music” rolling.)

Guests are invited to play along with their own instruments or with those provided by Rhizome and can nosh on soup, snacks and perhaps even breakfast. (Rhizome says Thanksgiving leftovers are also welcome.) Baltimore-based light artist Daniel Conrad will also set up various art installations in the two-story building, a former home. Art supplies will be on hand, and impromptu lectures and readings are encouraged.

If this sounds all-too reminiscent of that season one episode of Mad Men when Don’s mistress, Midge, drags him out to a bohemian nightclub for a happening-esque immersive experience in which performers read marriage announcements and play folk songs, there’s a reason: Thuro says his idea emerged from his readings of experimental artists and musicians of the 1960s and ’70s—such as Marian Zazeela, Catherine Christer Hennix, La Monte Young, Henry Flynt and Tony Conrad—associated with Minimalism, Fluxus and other boundary-pushing movements.

They were “putting a lot more time than we’re given specifically into those things that they were doing, whether it was writing or lectures,” Thuro says. “And I have been part of the music world of recording things and putting it out and trying to play shows and keep progressing and just sort of driving really fast into a big tree, [but] all these people had been really trying to get people to do the opposite.”

Though Thuro readily admits that one of his motivations for staging The 24-Hour Show is just to see what it’s like to play music for a full day, it’s not the event’s sole driving force. He also wants to offer visitors ample time to “do nothing productive.”

“We’re not really given time to do anything for 24 hours at a time,” he says. “Everything that we’re immediately surrounded by leads us away from giving extended periods of time to things that would probably otherwise be important to us.”

If you need a rest mid-event, a designated sleeping area with cushions is available and sleeping bags are encouraged. And if you can’t stay for the event’s entirety, that’s OK too. You’re welcome to drop by, leave and return as you wish. Take your time.

The 24-Hour Show will be held at RhizomeDC from 1 p.m. November 24-1 p.m. November 25. Suggested donation is $10.

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