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Festival Review: International Noise Conference

By Jonathan G Ceballos posted Feb 14, 2014 at 05:08 PM

Review of one of the nights of the 2014 edition of The International Noise Conference!

Churchill’s Pub has exclusively hosted the infamous International Noise Conference for 11 years. In all of its time, the event has never failed to deliver a weekend’s worth of sheer insanity, or so I had always heard. After too many missed opportunities to attend, I finally made it to one night of this year’s newly expanded festival for my first time. These were the rules: Every act had 15 minutes to obliterate the senses of all bystanders, and madness was to ensue both onstage and off.

I waited by the back patio for the first performance to begin. A guy in the band was looking for someone. “Where’s Tony?” he asked into the microphone just before giving up on the search. I had been watching Shaolin Prince in the projection behind the stage while the band got things in order. The very first lash of guitar fuzz rang out at about 9:42 pm. The martial arts switched off, and I watched the projectionist change out the DVD for another as the band made some final adjustments. The projectionist aimed his light at the big wall beside the stage. I saw the new film’s title flash up there in big white letters; it read “Beautiful Black Butts.” The band member took the mic again. “Tony, grab me a beer on the way,” where his last audible words. 

The strings of their instruments made the sounds of agony. 

The general sentiment was that whatever was going on at the stage was of secondary interest to the Youtube community. I didn’t mind the apathy from the audience as long as the band kept making the beautiful sounds of car accidents and derailing train carriages. The performance was over when the drummer lifted his cymbal and threw it on the ground. No time for an encore; I turned toward the bar and followed the sounds of violent shrieking inside.

I found a place where I could get a peek at who was doing all the howling. A woman sat on the floor and scrubbed her shins with a metal brillo pad. Her legs began to bleed, so she quit mutilating herself and began choking her neck with an industrial chain.  When she loosened her grip on the chain and got through making gagging sounds, she felt around for a new item.  With her bare hands, she ripped open a VCR that was lying nearby and sprinkled the bits on the floor. 

She only settled down after she got a good talking to from this human skull in a bowling ball.

A new crowd gathered around someone setting up a couple of tiny boxes on the ground. The change in lighting built up some suspense for what was on the way.  An ear shattering sound suddenly began to pour through the speakers at a mind numbing volume. A wheezing, processed voice soon chimed in and joined the mayhem. The guy on the floor got out some plastic wrap, wound it around his waist, and then used some to wrap around his face. 

A member of the audience turned to me to disclose something. “A demon is speaking to me,” he informed me. I wasn’t sure that he referring to the music. Without too much delay, he added, “after a while, I realize the demon is me.”

The storm clouds parted just briefly and there was this angelic Molly Nilssonesque character behind some buttons, knobs, tangley cables, and an ironing board. I had just turned my head away from the last act’s apparent suicide attempt when she promptly began playing some gloomy synthpop.

She played stuff that reminded of early Nite Jewel, and made the most danceable sounds of the night (personal opinion). I stood close by and relished in this rare moment of the night.

When it ended, I left the inside of the bar for a room behind it that is usually never open to the public. On a regular night, no one will get to say that they watched a performance in the Dan Hosker Studio. Some squatters had lined the walls of the room and no one else fit inside when I got there.

This guy looked pretty suspicious though. I was glad to keep my distance.

Afterwards I went to see what was going on at the back patio. The DJ was playing music to clear the floor for the exiting band. Lil’ Jon was advising everyone to “F*ck ‘em Up” as I approached during the chorus of one of his songs. A couple of drunken blondes got moving when “A** and T*tties” started blasting on the loudspeakers, and the never ending porn flick kept bouncing along as the rest crowd awaited the next performer. A guy from the audience stepped behind the projectionist and flipped a wig and bandana onto his head. He threw a guitar over his shoulder and jumped in front of the microphone to address his subjects. “I told you I’d come back, didn’t I?”

A couple of flipped birds and a F*ck you came as a response.

“F*ck you.” He shot back, accompanying it with a one finger salute of his own.

The man used his guitar like a Dub-MD and sent a clear message of his disregard for the value of human life.

What he played may or may not have been some mangled rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. I took the ringing in my ears as a sign that my hearing hadn’t been very reliable to me. As my higher faculties began to shut down, I considered getting home soon.

The International Noise Conference isn’t just a bunch of noise bands; there was a visual component to every performance that was just as important to the show as the sound. The event is probably the closest a Miamian could ever come to experiencing what you might get at Burning Man Festival within city limits. This event is highly recommended to all those who has ever paid to get into a torture museum. If you ever wished you could throw a party in a haunted house and invite all the monsters onto the dance floor, then this might also be your cup of tea.

It had been my very first taste on the International Noise Conference on a randomly chosen night of the five day festival, and everything was all right. I had witnessed several atrocities, both on stage and off, and it felt strangely fulfilled by it all. As a new inductee into the cult of INC, I was eager to start using my new mantra that I had acquired from someone who had whispered it into my ear inside. I fist bumped the parking attendant on the way to my car and, under my breath, whispered “Hail Satan” as I turned the key in the ignition.

Friday February 7th, 2014 (Day 4)

In the Pub

Curator Todd Lynne

-        Homeland (Boston)

-        Dim Past (Miami)

-        Burnt Hair (Jacksonville)

-        Lord God Almighty (Montreal)

-        Jeff Rehnlund (Raleigh)

-        Esclaves (Montreal)

-        LSDV (Boston)

-        Cheetoh Haze (Myakka)

-        SPQR (Tampa)

-        Newton (Philidelphia)

-        Hell Garbage (Lakeland)

-        Negatory (Orlando)

-        Oubliette (Clyo

-        Fish Wife (Tampa)

-        Lovebrrd (St. Pete)

-        Norse Shit Band (Lakeland)

-        Other Organs (Tarpon Springs)

-        Haves&Thirds (Tampa)

-        Klein (Miami)

Back Patio

-        Kenny Millions: Be Creative or Die

Dan Hosker Studio

-        Ocean Meets the Sky  (curator: Xela Zaid) 

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