Walking into Churchill's Pub in the heart of Little Haiti during this year's International Noise Conference (INC) is guaranteed to be a soul-jarring experience. Those not accustomed to the genre will probably wind up perplexed, awed, downright disgusted, and, if they're lucky, a combination of all three. Chances are, though, if you are already into noise as a matter of course, then this week's fourth installment of the INC is the only place to be. We can already hear some people asking, 'How the hell is noise even a genre in the first place?' Well, noise in this sense refers to a wide-open genre of music that doesn't appear to have boundaries but is grouped together by a disdain or lack of adherence to traditional musical constructs such as meter, melody, and structure. Couple that with an affinity for experimentation and performance and you've got a new genre to add to your iTunes list.
The INC has been put on faithfully since 2004 by Miami's resident raconteur and musical personality, Rat Bastard, also of the Laundry Room Squelchers (LRS). The conditions that got him interested in noise go back to the basement days of contemporary music in South Florida. Since the late '70s, Bastard has been contributing to the integrity of whatever passes for a scene playing with the band Myrin and the 2 Wotz, DJing club gigs on the old SoBe, plus recording and putting out bands from Charlie Pickett to Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids. He managed to win the Worst Band Award from Spin magazine in 1994, and he hates anyone with an ego. When Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth was asked about the state of Miami music, she replied, "Well, you guys have Rat Bastard, of course."
Never one to commercialize his efforts, Bastard allows the INC to remain a free event each year. This is despite the increasing status of the participants and performers some of whom tour internationally and ordinarily command high fees yet are traveling to Miami and playing at their own expense just to be a part of the show. If the lurching sounds of this conference aren't enough, the INC also tends to feature the oddest and most visually challenging artists around.
Leafing through this year's staggering lineup is a daunting task, but as always, New Times is here to help.
Thursday (8:45 p.m. to 3 a.m.) Thursday night comes off as a kind of South Florida superstars showcase featuring globally recognized artists who dwell in this swamp. Sound clash aficionados LRS and Temple of Bon Matin headline the night. Doormouse, proprietor of the Addict and Distort labels, will be playing alongside Otto von Schirach, a deranged electronic/hip-hop/breakcore artist with a penchant for wearing prosthetic breasts. In a burst of near Auden-like poetry, von Schirach gives us his thoughts on the festival.
"I think INC will exhume the flesh of my reptilian agenda... and rape my insides while Rat Bastard and Doormouse give Dino an upchuck of poison," he says. "Then Costes will take us so far in insanity, we will all become born-again Christians and buy prosperity clothes." Umm, right. The "Dino" von Schirach refers to is hyperactive avant-pop crooner Dino Felipe (Schematic), formerly of Finesse and Runway, who performs Thursday evening as well. The group I Can't Read, which features ex-members of the Gaping Cunt and the Peppermints, is traveling from Los Angeles for a spot on the night as well.
Friday (6:45 p.m. to 3 a.m.) The early evening features a rare show from the mostly defunct Tampa outfit What's Yr. Damage? and progresses through a staggering avalanche of 31 acts terminating in Rhode Island's Byron House. Along the way, don't confuse R.L. Stein with the children's author of the same name as this sprawling group of musicians attempts to reduce life to a series of primitive sonic assaults.
Saturday (1 p.m. to 3 a.m.) Sword Heaven (Columbus, Ohio) returns to the INC after a rather memorable performance in 2006, as will longtime LRS collaborator Leslie Keffer (Athens, Ohio). In line with the ever-increasing international roster, Costes from France will play one of the messiest sets to grace the stage of Churchill's in some time. He is an iconoclastic, intentionally shocking artist with G.G. Allinesque sensibilities who says he promises to, at the minimum, shove a raw carrot up his ass on stage. Several of his albums are banned in France due to obscenity, and his sets are known to periodically feature live sex as well as scatological expulsions. "It will be the best festival in the world to get an idea of what is really going on [in] the creative musical scene," Costes says via e-mail. Whether you're kinky or square, the INC is a rarity in the world of music that's not to be missed.
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