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Curious Sounds: A Radiolab Concert

Monday, June 27, 2011 - 09:00 PM

Group hug: Jad Abumrad, Buke & Gass, Glenn Kotche, and Reggie Watts Group hug: Jad Abumrad, Buke & Gass, Glenn Kotche, and Reggie Watts (Jeff Tan)

In this short, Jad presents the electrifying sounds of three mind-bending musical acts: Brooklyn duo Buke & Gass, drummer Glenn Kotche of Wilco, and the one-and-only Reggie Watts. Their performances were recorded live at our Curious Sounds concert earlier this month in NYC.

Radiolab is a deeply musical show--from Jad's scoring and sound design, to the way we tell stories. So we decided to devote a night to three musical acts who all share a sense of musical adventure and curiosity--and the ability to rock the rafters of any stage they step on.

Genre-bending duo Buke & Gass kick the podcast off with a live performance of “Your Face Left Before You”...a raucous song featuring Arone Dyer's fierce vocals, bass ukulele, and "toe-bourine" (check out the picture below), and Aron Sanchez's driving, homemade guitar-bass. 

Up next, percussionist Glenn Kotche of Wilco performs “Monkey Chant,” his retelling of the ancient Hindu epic the Ramayana--using different instruments in his drum kit to convey different characters. And after explaining how he once wrote a string quartet on the drums, he plays one more composition: “Projections of What Might.”

And finally, Reggie Watts...musician, comedian, stand-up-surrealist-beat-boxer-force-of-nature...takes command of the stage.

More from Buke & Gass, Glenn Kotche, and Reggie Watts:

Free downloads:

Buke & Gass, Your Face Left Before You

Reggie Watts, Every Day is Like Sunday

Audience at Curious Sounds concert at NYU Skirball Center
Jeff Tan
A shot from the audience at our Curious Sounds concert at NYU Skirball Center
Buke and Gass
Jeff Tan
Buke and Gass
Glenn Kotche and Jad Abumrad on stage
Jeff Tan
Glenn Kotche and Jad on stage
Reggie Watts
Jeff Tan
Reggie Watts


Arone Dyer, Glenn Kotche, Aron Sanchez and Reggie Watts


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Comments [48]

James from Oz

Well, I got to radiolab late in life, and I have been listening to all the podcasts back-to-back for maybe 10hrs a day. Definitely addictive.
This episode was enough for me to find an internet connection (I live in the sticks) and find out who Glenn Kotche was. Brother's Christmas present: sorted.

Jad, Radiolab isn't about science, it's about new ideas, or new takes on old ideas, so this episode about music is spot-on. I can't believe the knockers and nay-sayers.

Can I suggest that the background label that appears on my podcast could be altered each episode to give a visual description of the topic? I want to see what Philip II's automaton looked like. Or the toxic mine-lake in Butte. Would be a great improvement.

Cheers for the great show, keep it up.

James in Heyfield, Australia.

Aug. 28 2015 06:09 AM
Ana Cecilia from Florida

I really want to hear that final jam session you play at the end of the podcast. It sounds AMAZING!!!

Jan. 30 2013 11:20 PM
Adam Hruby from Czech Republic, Europe

Reggie Watts is black Bill Bailey. Now I have two heroes. Thank you.

If you don't know Bill Bailey and you love the combination of great intellect, humour and music, check out one of his best shows Part Troll:

Sep. 13 2012 12:06 AM

why are they rubbing balloons together I had to stifle my laughter during parts but for the most part it was pretty good

May. 17 2012 09:35 AM
Michelle from Zamora, Spain

This concert was so brilliant! It was such a treat to see everything live, and I'm still talking about it with my friends :) Thanks RL

Oct. 09 2011 03:13 PM

What if we got THIS GUY ~WATTZ~ to compair neurologically with the Rag-Time-4-track-brained-symphony-guy?

Aug. 21 2011 10:59 PM

I too was at this show, and while all the music is fantastic you're doing yourself if you don't listen to Reggie in the last third or so.

The podcast is nothing like watching him perform in person, but it's still incredible that his entire bit is improv even if you can't see that ridiculous hobo looking giant of a man doing his physical comedy bit.

The man is a genius. Pure and simple, he's freestyling and looping it into beautiful rhythms on a machine that's more mad scientist than musician while sending the audience into paroxysms of laughter.

I don't know what to call it or him, but he's still in my mind.

Aug. 18 2011 10:56 PM
Michael L.

Jad: If you like Reggie Watts, you should checkout Vienna Teng & Alex Wong the next time they're performing live in NYC ( You won't be disappointed!

Aug. 12 2011 05:56 PM

My ears have rarely been this happy.

Jul. 31 2011 03:16 PM
tim from London

There are a lot of comments here that are pretty negative. i am surprised by the way some of the radiolab fans are being kind of hateful, i quote here james form canada who thinks the audience are "feeling superior in skinny jeans and neck-beards". There are other examples of things people say and it think if you can be so dismissive of this podcast then perhaps you should ask yourself why you listen to the show. is it because you genuinely want to embrace new ideas or is it because you want to be in a "cool kids" group yourself?

Not that there is anything wrong with not liking a show, there are obviously podcasts i find more interesting than others, but it seems odd that people should want to be so critical of something that Jad clearly feels so passionate about. Jad and Robert have a very particular "voice" in the way they construct their show. This is a very special show where they "share' some of the people who have a similar approach in their own work. they may not be scientific in subject, but in spirit i think they share something with radiolab. It is an enormous shame that there are people who can't enter into that spirit and from some of the comments it doesnt seem like they really understand what radiolab is about. Many of the inspiring people we have met in more 'conventional' podcasts, were risk-takers, people who acted against convention. I doubt very much that the greatest achievements of our species came from people pandering to the cool kids, but instead i would think it more likely that the 'cool kids' were the opposers and oppressors. There will always be this resistance to change but one would hope that it would not come from someone who listens to radiolab, and claims, to really understand the show and what it champions.

Jul. 23 2011 12:13 PM
Angela from NJ

I was lucky enough to attend this concert. It was a gamble since I was only vaguely familiar with all the artists. The ingenuity of Buke and Gass was refreshing, and I even downloaded a couple of their songs including "Outt!" after the show. Glenn Kotche was even more creative and his attitude was entertaining as well. And Reggie Watts had me almost crying in laughter. The impromptu collaboration at the end was awesome. Overall, a very impressive night!

Jul. 19 2011 12:01 PM

Great this podcast :)

Jul. 18 2011 01:07 PM
Rik Myers from Miami and her Beaches

Awesome SAUCE , THat was. "Wish I was there", you all.

Jul. 16 2011 06:43 PM
Kara Shallenberg from San Diego, California

Ugh. First RadioLab episode I've ever skipped. Back to the science, please!

Jul. 14 2011 04:37 PM
lj from ATL, GA

beautiful stuff. I appreciate the variety of music you gave us and you opened up my ears to some new music!

Jul. 13 2011 08:43 PM
Danny from pasadena, ca

OMG this was the worst show ever! Please stop Jad from doing his musak stuff! this is not what i think this show is about! I fast forwarded through most of this jibberish of an episode!

Jul. 12 2011 02:24 AM
Jess from NM

I was sincerely disappointed by this edition of the show. I love music, i listen to music, but when i listen to radio lab i am looking for a different experience. i don' t want to rock out, i want to be awed by some new idea that i've never heard of.

Jul. 11 2011 05:55 PM
Brian Bowes from San Francisco, CA

OH YES! Where can I buy the album!?

This is like a Frank Zappa meets Barry White with a Gamelan band who listens to Sonic Youth... ahh, my people!

Brilliant again Radio Lab.

Jul. 11 2011 02:21 PM

This was my first RadioLab experience, and I had never listened to the podcast. My friend dragged me along an dI admit I was not very excited, but this show absolutely blew my mind. I can understand why a lot of people didn't enjoy this podcast, but the enjoyment was being there and watching as well as listening. The performers were incredible to watch, especially Reggie Watts. He had this presence that was just hilarious and he managed to make you laugh while making music that sounded great as it surprised and amazed you every second. This was really a great experience for me and the entire audience was so alive and loved it.

Jul. 10 2011 10:39 PM
James from Canada

The very first show I really could not finish. Wow...

This show is definitely full of something "I've probably never heard of". One can picture the audience feeling superior in skinny jeans and neck-beards.

The series is otherwise 99.9% awesome!

Jul. 10 2011 06:26 PM
Justin from NY

I loved this podcast. There live!

Jul. 09 2011 12:10 PM
RH from Honolulu

superlatives fail me; that's why i find "blows my mind" charming - so i'll just say "beyond awesome"... and donate... you 2 are pricele$$

Jul. 09 2011 08:29 AM
Ran Sh

I didn't like the music all that much, but I have do say, I really admire for Jad for introducing us to new music, and for introducing those artists to a new crowd.

I love you, Jad! (and Robert too...)

Jul. 08 2011 12:43 PM

So here I am, running barefoot through the streets of small town Vermont listening to "Curious Sounds" smiling ear to ear at the audio explosion going on in my ears. The locals have come to accept this curious barefooted mohawked runner for his accentricities. Yep, I'm hard to explain, but I belong to the community. I couldn't help but sense the irony. Buke and Gass poward me onward with their explosive ecstasy, Kotche had me feeling like a jungle boy, and Watts made me groove and laugh. Great job!

Jul. 07 2011 08:12 PM

I was disappointed with this podcast. Love Radiolab for making all sorts of interesting topics easily accessible. This music podcast did not connect with me, and I felt sad being on the outside looking in, feeling like I just wasn't *getting it*. Radiolab usually makes me feel good, inspired, uplifted, but this one left me feeling left out like I didn't belong with the cool kids.

Jul. 07 2011 12:55 PM
big chuck from Colorado

Glenn Kotche's performance was amazing. Total mind bender. Can't wait to listen to this again. Requires headphones and the volume turned up LOUD!

Thank you Radiolab!

Jul. 06 2011 07:35 PM
Grant Settiwick from Bay area

This was great! Reggie Watts is great - if you want to see incredible one-man-band style looping, I would encourage you to check out the videos of Gavin Castleton. His cover of Sledgehammer and Nothing Compares To You changed the game for me entirely.

Jul. 06 2011 05:55 PM
Rachele from BROOKLYN

Bummed I couldn't be there. Especially because I am dying to know what Glenn Kotche was using when he is making that squeaky balloon sound. Could it be just a balloon? I can't figure it out.

Jul. 06 2011 12:35 PM
Jacob from UK

Buke and Gass' music sounds like a good song crashing into a wall and falling apart, and the voice of the lady on vocals has the tone of a spoilt toddler whining to her parents. Don't want to hate on any musician but why is this band rated?

Jul. 05 2011 12:59 PM

I listened to the Reggie Watts segment over and over... it's just hilarious.

Jul. 04 2011 10:49 PM
Yasmin from New Jersey

I had so much fun at this show. I must say that I enjoyed all of the acts. Each of them were extremely unique and it was so interesting to see what they all had to offer. Keep the live shows/Radiolab concerts coming!!!

Jul. 01 2011 11:35 PM
Guise Faux

I dug it, the whole show. Especially enjoyed Reggie Watts' clever and whimsical riffs on familiar R&B tropes.

I suspect familiarity with other modes is essential to getting into what Buke & Gass and Glenn Kotche are doing. Without a reference point some experimental music can be disorienting.

Loved the falling-over-backward sensation of the short bit from the encore jam. Would've liked to hear more of that, although it's likely one of those "You had to be there" moments.

Jul. 01 2011 07:54 PM
Prasun from Montreal

Hey - I think it would help to have an excerpt of the Balinese monkey chant (Kecak) to give context to Glenn Kotche's first piece. Hearing it - I assume it *must* be derivative of that tradition.

Jul. 01 2011 12:56 PM
hellboy from hyrule

it sucks

Jun. 29 2011 02:55 PM
Carlee from MA

"They've been raping and pillaging my iPod for months." Seriously, Jad?

Jun. 29 2011 01:47 PM

"They've been raping and pillaging my iPod for months." Seriously, Jad?

Jun. 29 2011 01:46 PM
Charlie Dillingham

Pure excellent. Does body good to hear machine make the sound of back brain. Continue feed at all costs.

Jun. 28 2011 10:21 PM

loved loved loved this show! Glenn Kotche left me speechless. Completely beautiful!

Jun. 28 2011 09:04 PM

DAMN amazing show. My head just about exploded when I heard Reggie Watts was going to be on the line-up. Buke & Gass is becoming a new favorite as well.

Jun. 28 2011 07:50 PM
CP from Los Angeles, CA

Awesome event! Wish I could have gone...

Here's a live Buke & Gass video from last years Big Ears festival in Knoxville:

Jun. 28 2011 06:12 PM

Definitely a disappointment, had to skip parts to avoid a headache from the noise and just gave up when the guy who sounded as if he was chewing the cud came on

to each is his own

Jun. 28 2011 04:22 PM
Whitney from Philadelphia, PA

I had a great time at the show and can't wait to see another one. I am requesting Andrew Bird as a future performer!

Jun. 28 2011 01:04 PM
James from Arizona

Love Buke & Gass and Kotche. Great choices guys.

Jun. 28 2011 11:28 AM
dobbs from NYC

This was one of the best live events I have ever been to. Great musicians, such an eclectic choice for the evening! Well done Radiolab, I've been waiting for the podcast, now I can't wait for the next event!! Thank you!

Jun. 28 2011 11:16 AM
jpeg from dc

nice! reggie watts is the man.

Jun. 28 2011 10:52 AM
Kev from Boston

Did Jad really describe Wilco as straighforward southern rock? Jad, you must spend some time with YHF and A Ghost is Born! I think you'll reconsider this description.

Jun. 28 2011 10:32 AM

meh... none of it really my thing.

Jun. 28 2011 09:17 AM

I must admit. The first music was the only i was abel to listen to. The rest was mostly just noise. Must say i was a lot dissepointed...

To eatch his own....

Jun. 28 2011 09:16 AM

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