The Lab

The Lab is a nonprofit experimental art and performance space located in the Mission District of San Francisco.

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Bob Ostertag / Fred Frith


8:00pm Doors / 8:30pm Sound
$20 Guests / $12 Members
Reserve seats: member login or guest registration

Bob Ostertag makes a rare San Francisco appearance playing solo and in duo with longtime collaborator Fred Frith. Ostertag, who has been working with keyboard-less synthesizers since the mid-1970s, will play the latest iterations of his many and varied instruments.

Bob Ostertag's work cannot easily be summarized or pigeon-holed. He has published more than twenty-five CDs of music, two DVDs, and five books. His writings on contemporary politics have been published on every continent and in many languages. Electronic instruments of his own design are at the cutting edge of both music and video performance technology. He has performed at music, film, and multi-media festivals around the globe. His radically diverse collaborators include the Kronos Quartet, postmodernist John Zorn, heavy metal star Mike Patton, transgender cabaret icon Justin Vivian Bond, and many others. Ostertag first began publishing as a journalist covering the civil war in El Salvador in the 1980s. His most recent book is Sex Science Self: A Social History of Estrogen, Testosterone, and Identity (U Mass Press 2016). His previous book, Raising expectations (And Raising Hell) (Verso 2012) was about labor union organizing in Las Vegas. Co-authored with Jane McAlevey, The Nation magazine named it the Most Valuable Book of 2012.

The New York Times:
Bob Ostertag’s improvisations on various non-keyboard synthesizers are about as far removed from the electronic music clichés of the past as can be imagined.


San Francisco Bay Guardian:
As beautiful as the pastoral/celestial meditations of Brian Eno or Kitaro would be — if either one of those musicians chewed glass.


Il Gazzettino (Italy):
Ostertag’s music brings together audience and musicians alike in an almost corporeal bond — music of enormous emotional impact.


Die Zeit (Germany):
Sampling technology is used in a significant way for the first time. 


Though the point of reference for many remains the iconic band Henry Cow, which he co-founded in 1968 and which broke up more than 30 years ago, Fred Frith has never really stood still for an instant. In bands such as Art Bears, Massacre, Skeleton Crew, Keep the Dog, Tense Serenity, the Fred Frith Guitar Quartet, Eye to Ear, and most recently Cosa Brava, he has always held true to his roots in rock and folk music, while exploring influences that range from the literary works of Eduardo Galeano to the art installations of Cornelia Parker. The release of Frith’s seminal Guitar Solos in 1974 enabled him to simultaneously carve out a place for himself in the international improvised music scene, not only as an acclaimed solo performer but in the company of artists as diverse as Han Bennink, Chris Cutler, Jean-Pierre Drouet, Evelyn Glennie, Ikue Mori, Louis Sclavis, Stevie Wishart, Wu Fei, Camel Zekri, John Zorn, and scores of others.

Later Event: February 10
Consumer Electronics