Saturday night, Reverend Mother Flash pissed into a cup, drank it, and spit it at the crowd amid the total sonic and physical chaos of Cock ESP's closing set at the 2014 International Noise Conference. A fan flew and firecrackers popped. It was the perfect ending to a full week of anything goes. Not long before, the New York City performer gave birth to a toy baby, stabbed it, and washed her nude body in blood in that same spot in front of a thinning but buzzing late-night crowd. With her majestic red getup and pointed crown, she epitomized the absurdity, the fantastic, the freedom, the emotion, the asshole spirit that INC brings each year to South Florida.
What once was a three-day fuck-fest at Churchill's Pub in Little Haiti -- lots of smelly dudes in town sleeping on couches and in cars who cleverly and not so cleverly played with sound -- is now a five-day-long beautiful shit-show, complete with pre- and postparties. And this year, the longest yet, was dominated by an impressive array of female performers.
In life, the "hottest chick" will draw the most attention, but at a noise show, the craziest, wildest, most ballsy (if you will) woman will always elicit the most adoration. Praise the loudest, most unruly lords for that. Back in like 2006, at No Fun Fest or Tonic in New York, a bunch of people sat around complaining that more "cute" girls were coming to shows to pick up guys. But if INC 2014 is any indication, "cute" don't matter. Fabulous and daring is winning. Though there were countless moving, shocking, and not-as-exciting-as-pee acts this year, the boldest females and Rat Bastard's brilliant curation made this one of the most unforgettable weeks in Churchillsian history.
Two Miami duos, all four seasoned noisemakers, drew the crowd in and wrapped them with sound. Sharlyn Evertsz and Teresa Liberatore as Hellmouth turned nobs to the delight of everyone, wearing matching red dresses. Later, Max Kane slammed the drums as Autumn Casey worked the guitar in glittering sequined luchador-like masks as Bag Hag. Both pairs demonstrated what Miami has to offer as far as the range of style and performance that is being crafted here. All four women performed more than once this week in different configurations.
Yohimbe turned that shit out when, while wearing only a green and white tie-dyed T and lacy black thong, the female half of this duo screamed the shit out of the room and then showed us her (literally) fucking skills on the concrete floor. Unicorn Hard-on remains a yearly favorite, and she didn't disappoint with noise that insists you dance. Irene Moon's set, with a horn on her nose, will continue to give us all nightmares for years to come. Our therapists thank you.
Rat Bastard, the noise overlord, took to the stage on Tuesday with Emile Blair Milgrim of the label Other Electricities and band Quarter Horses. Handing her usual drum duties over to Rat, she filled the room with screeching guitar sounds. LaFemme Natal, in from New York, swung a sheet of metal and chain at the audience and proceeded to create hypnotic soundscapes with them both.
There was Holly Hunt. With Beatriz Monteavaro on drums and Gavin Perry manning the pedals and guitar, nothing can fail. Bodies swayed, bewitched by their chemistry, while others bashed it out on the floor. Everyone was together in this, and all chanted for an encore -- not something you see often at INC. Immediately after, a girl with dyed blond hair and maybe two other young dudes slammed into everyone around them and threw tables on to the floor and at things, leaving behind some blood and tons of smiles.
Not to overlook the male element of the conference. Nicky Bowe, a fine human being known to many as the Irish bartender at Churchill's, smoked us out of the venue for the third year in a row with his motorcycle. This time, he kindly offered us SARS masks that in no way protected us from anything. He opened for Kenny Millions, who no one could watch just stand onstage with his arms in the air, because, well, it meant certain death. How is Kenny not dead?
Nick Klein brought country and a long rope in a noose to create a throbbing noise set. Nick was in the zone. The intensity of it all drew people around him like mosquitoes to a juicy leg filled with sweet blood. He dug deep, writhing around, as if in a trance, asking crowd members to pull the noose around his neck. It was saturated with emotion but not chaotic, bringing some form to a festival that relishes in the random.
Mr. Feathers and Nayib Estefan joined Otto Von Schirach onstage alongside Skinny Puppy's cEvin Key for an irreverent set crashed by Broward's own Kenny Millions on sax. And the next night, Noise Nomads put us back in the creepiest womb, a place there's no point in leaving.
It was impossible to watch every person who bared their bodies, minds, and souls out there, so feel free to add the acts you best remember in the comments.
Obviously, this was all thanks to Rat Bastard who, with good taste, knowledge, and humor, has kept not only the noise scene alive and relevant but the entire Miami community pumping with life and sound. We all, whether locals or not, owe him all the drinks, hugs, and thanks he'll allow.
Full disclosure: I also had a set on Tuesday night that was curated by Jeff Rollison, mastermind of Night of the Weirds (one of the best things to happen to life). Everyone was great -- I mean, it started with Dracula, an act that hasn't played in forever, and when they did, it was in cemeteries, and there was Ha Ha Help, whom I've always enjoyed. But mine was a full-on failure, anticlimactic, and, for a normal person, probably would have been a lowest point in life.
The Holy Terror's Rob Elba mercifully called it something like a train wreck, which was more than accurate. I don't remember a thing, except that the pedal I was going to use didn't work, and I stood there in a Snooki-type cotton-candy-colored wig, so many feathers on my ass, and a flute in hand. Luckily, I'd encouraged some in the crowd to heckle, so I got to give them the finger and yell something like: "Does anyone here play the flute? No, because the flute sucks." And then crawl off the stage saying "I'm done" ten times.
I know only because I saw video afterward and people told me. I guess I also stood there and yelled out names and "I can't do this." But I don't give a shit, because the second I got off the stage, the wonderful people at Churchill's and INC were supportive of my memorable fail. And so loving. And love is so much better to receive when you've failed at something than when you've succeeded. You know it's sincere. And at INC, you cannot truly lose or suck or be anything but whatever the fuck you are, and everyone will tell you "you were great" anyway. There's nothing more beautiful that that.
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