Part of the Kollektiv is a quartet of Reed College students who spend their spare time cranking out a mix of music that can only be described as improvisational.
"We started out as a Grateful Dead cover band," said band member Jack Johnson. "A friend of ours left Reed for a year after being arrested on his way to see a concert with the surviving members of the Dead. When he came back to school last year, we wanted to give him the show he never made it to."
But Kollektiv doesn't play Grateful Dead tunes any more, Johnson added.
"Our shows constantly change and span a wide variety of genres," Johnson said.
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They perform March 20 at the Emerald of Siam, 1314 Jadwin Ave., Richland. Showtime is 9 p.m. There is no cover.
When not making music, this quartet of musicians are full-time students in Portland, where they study a collective of chemistry, biology, religion and music.
"I think the main thing that unites us as a band is a shared vision of what a show should ideally be," Johnson said. "We view our shows as less of a presentation of our music and more of an invitation for our audience to join us on a musical journey."
Attending Reed also gives the guys a chance to mingle in the beatnik era, which thrived at Reed College in the 1950s.
"The beatnik influence isn't dead here," Johnson said. "Since my freshman year I've been attending and organizing a weekly poetry night, and it's not unusual to hear students reading Ginsberg."
Irwin Allen Ginsberg was a Jewish-American poet and one of the leading figures of the Beat Generation of the 1950s and the counterculture that followed. He vigorously opposed militarism, economic materialism and sexual repression.
The band's name also comes from a free-spirited custom that's traditional at Reed College, Johnson said.
"The band's name comes from a group at Reed called RKSK, or the Reed Kommunal S--- Kollektiv," he said. "Every year, there's a ritual where we streak across campus, read from the communist manifesto, and chant 'We have no names, we're part of the kollektiv.' "
--Dori O'Neal: 582-1514