THIS LITTLE UNDERGROUND
’Twas the eve of Valentine’s Day and the breast of the crisp night air heaved lustily with love. And if you were anywhere near Stardust Video & Coffee, that love sounded pretty fucked up. That’s right, my babies, it’s that time of year again when noise music invades Florida. The annual International Noise Conference went down in Miami over the weekend and Stardust hosted one of this year’s preshows. Wow, what a holy racket.
Y’know those disagreeable inadvertent sounds like feedback and static that occur when someone does something wrong during soundcheck? Well, imagine taking those sounds and stretching them into entire compositions. Voilà! Noise. It’s definitely not for everybody. This is experimental art in some of its purest forms. With an anything-goes aesthetic, noise is an impressionistic, often terroristic, construct of dissonance and atonality.
To call it music would be to indulge in some rather liberal semantic gymnastics. That also means it can sometimes be bullshit. Noise disciples would argue, no doubt, that such a stance could only be held by subscribers to the dogma of music and that, as open defiance to musical convention, noise is a statement of sonic anarchism. For the record I firmly believe this, even during each of the many times I’ve seen a crap-ass noise act. But frankly, my sympathy for that sentiment evaporates in a snap of the fingers as soon as I feel like I’m being jived by a knob-twiddler without a point.
The last pre-INC show I attended was a couple of years ago at Austin Coffee and Film; it was intriguing, but the only acts that brought home the bacon were the ones that incorporated some sort of physical performance art into their show (e.g. physically binding the audience together with packing tape, like L.A.’s Brian Miller and Kevin Shields did ?°¦ no, not thee Kevin Shields).
This year, however, there was a marked difference. Besides the logical increase in crust-punk participation, the performances had much more aim, force and physicality, even resulting in some thrashing and knocked-over furniture. Yep, right up my alley. Nothing was orthodox enough to even approach the rock tag, but it was visceral and, more importantly, cogent. And with Stardust’s new, spacious layout, this was a nonstop, more navigable event with two stages and film playing out in the parking lot.
Feb. 15 at the Social was the type of bill that tickles me: diverse, talented and local. One welcome revelation was new local band The Future on Films in Space. Evoking all the auditory and visual ephemera of the ’60s underground, their cerebral, psychedelic set was transporting. Mark it now: Orlando’s constellation has a new star.
Backpacker S.K.I.P. showed that his rap game is evolving in more organic directions. Performing with a full band and actually playing some instruments himself, he’s clearly giving deeper thought to the actual music that robes his rhymes. Hopefully the band setup is common practice in his live shows from now on, because it really makes his songs come alive.
Closing out the night, headliners Summerbirds in the Cellar proved yet again why they’re the reigning great white hope of Orlando indie rock. Personally, I couldn’t think of more worthy ambassadors of our scene.
• Paint It Black New Lexicon (Jade Tree) This bad boy is one serious avalanche of big-muscle hardcore that pummels with purity.
• Bon Iver For Emma, Forever Ago (Jagjaguwar) An enchanting, introspective folk debut with a drifty, wintry, dreamy atmosphere.
• The Hands Self-titled (Selector Sound) They may be from way up ’ere in Washington state, but they serve electrifying Southern swagger in heaps with their chicken-fried, shack-shakin’ garage rock.
• Fight Amp Hungry for Nothing (Translation Loss) This New Jersey outfit isn’t on the AmRep label but, with all the vile glory of their dirty, dangerous noise-rock, they sure as shit should be.
• The Heavenly States Delayer (The Rebel Group) Rife with Superchunkisms, this jumpy rock record pumps with the tight, fat-free melodies of ’90s indie rock.