Lincolnites try to make 13-hour song

From the Lincoln Journal-Star:

By MICAH MERTES / Lincoln Journal Star
Monday, Jun 02, 2008 – 12:19:24 am CDT

They’re running a little late, so Mathias Svalina starts to strum a guitar and sing to no one, because they need to get this song started if they’re going to make it 13 hours.

The movie “Top Gun” plays on mute on a nearby TV-VCR combo.

“It’s better we do this on time rather than correctly,” Svalina says. “Although, I’m not sure what correctly would be.”

Anders Peterson (left), 27; Ande Reinkordt, 28; and Elisabeth Reinkordt, 25, play a ventilation duct, an electric guitar and a keyboard during a 13-hour improvisational song on Sunday at Box Awesome, 815 O St. (Micah Mertes)

There’s no textbook example of performing a single, uninterrupted, improvisational 13-hour-long song with no structure, no rules, no purpose. All that matters is the duration. It will take a fluctuating set of musicians — and some who aren’t musicians — to make it through the half-day-long set.

If you’re looking for a rational, you’re out of luck. It’s not supposed to make sense. It’s just supposed to last 13 hours.

Starting at noon on Sunday, a group of Lincolnites came together to tackle the senseless endeavor in the basement of Box Awesome, 815 O St. Their plan was to make it to 1 a.m. Monday, employing every conceivable sound-making instrument or device.

Guitars, computer keyboards, mandolins, voices, typewriters, balloons, mic distortion, ventilation duct, a Pat Robertson tape played in slow motion. The results are dissonant, bizarre, but not without moments of unexpected beauty.

“Well, it comes to being that everything is an instrument,” says Ande Reinkordt, the founder of local band Man’s Last Great Invention and a participant in one-song Sunday. “Everything makes some sort of sound.

There’s a visual component as well.

A drawing of Kiefer Sutherland’s vampire of “The Lost Boys” takes the stage at one point. Architect and Lincolnite Marti Gottsch sings through a big lion mask. Movies of the ’80s — “Top Gun,” “War Games,” “Willow,” “Ghost” — play on the TV.

And Elisabeth Reinkordt, Ande’s wife, has set up an old projector, which is playing 18-mm film reels of black and white documentaries about monkeys and child psychology. Elisabeth found the reels while Dumpster diving outside a local high school.

The 13-hour-long song offers a strange accompaniment to both the ’80s movies and the educational documentaries, which play simultaneously.

The volleyball scene in “Top Gun” carries new weight during the sonic distortion. And the electric-guitar-keyboard-ventilation-duct ensemble provides a rousing backdrop to the final dogfight.

“We saved Maverick,” Ande says, after the scene ends.

People come and go, doing what they can to contribute to the experimental opus.

But at the two-hour mark, the performers start to realize that, wow, they’ve still got 11 hours left. No one says so, but there’s palpable doubt on a few faces.

Can they make it?

Only those still there at the end know for sure.

Reach Micah Mertes at 473-7395 or

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