We understand a certain hesitance toward experimental music performances: Nobody wants to squat in a damp culvert listening to cats scream for 36 hours (Berlin, 1973). But experimental music festivals are usually safe, because they have curators, and very few curators are batshit crazy, because of the paperwork. Mediate’s Playback series does this one better, featuring “the most acclaimed events” (read: audience favorites) from its already well-regarded (read: expertly curated) Soundwave festival. This weekend’s shows treat audiences very well, with AudioBustours that put them on sightseeing buses roaming the city, the routes chosen by musicians who score the trip live. Spectators get lulled into experimental music appreciation with comfy seats, Sennheiser headphones, and one of the best cityscapes in the world. Not that we need all the extras: July 29’s tour of the Mission features live-looping guitar genius the Genie, and on July 30, the ambient trip through Golden Gate Park is helmed by electronic wizard Christopher Willits. Next week, on Aug. 7, the audience has to work a little harder — in the form of a 20-minute uphill walk to Battery Townsley at Fort Cronkhite in the Marin Headlands — but the payoff is grand: a show taking full advantage of all the echoey, haunty chambers of the WWII fortification, with music by Date Palms, a voice and movement piece by Sugar Pine Tesla, and sound art by Edward Schocker.
July 30-Aug. 7, 7 & 8 p.m.; Fridays, Saturdays, 7 & 8 p.m. Starts: July 30. Continues through Sept. 24, 2011

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