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Vice Blog

NEW YORK - WHAT A NOISE SHOW IS LIKE

by VICE Staff
Mar 16 2009, 6:50pm


Noise shows with a dozen bands are always boring for hours at a time, a bunch of scumbag macho nerds trying to outdo one another in competitions that tap into the National Geographic sequences of their DNA. And then you see that one act who played for five minutes and it was totally worth it. Being tortured is part of the process, watching a hundred new kids who're still wearing their weed weight and college logo hats discover all the amazing sounds available to a severely chipped cymbal when placed on the ground. It's just how it is, the end, and the only better way to listen to noise is on a CD inside a tanning bed while simultaneously hearing your skin crackle beneath a black light that is literally killing you. Anyway, I went to Todd Pendu's Black Mass last night and stuck it out seven hours for a few very special moments. Here's what it was like...

I heard she's generally pretty good but she just got this crazy Russian synthesizer that has cables that befuddle even the finest of electrical systems, including her own mind. A fancy toy is the best excuse for a lame performance. All she did was furiously click shit on and off and step on that keyboard on the ground like she was enacting a modern take on that Nancy Sinatra song. Boring. It's like when you lay someone who's really, really hot and you know they're barely even trying in bed because they're banking on their good looks and your worshipfulness to carry through to kingdom cum. Yeah, that's a stale analogy, and perhaps I'm guilty of doing the same thing I'm accusing her of and hot people of, of relying on my amazing photography skills to carry this little blurb through to its end. But regardless, seeing her play made me glad there aren't many girls playing noise, and I don't care how big of a jerk that makes me. A lot of them just aren't good, the ones who are can often be total bitches, and above all else, relying on having a snatch as a novelty is shameful.

Here's another take on the "kooky" instrument thing: "The music I want to make should sound wicked fucked, so I'm gonna mutilate this record like it's an African vagina to achieve this goal." Have you ever tried to play a really scratched-up record? It doesn't make a cool range of sounds. It just sounds like a quiet windstorm happening on your neighbor's TV that you can kind of hear through the wall. Luckily this kid had back-up; behind him, in a dark corner that you almost wouldn't notice, some burly kid whipped the shit out of our minds on whatever he was playing.

This whippersnapper assembled all his gear and then put a microphone next to it and let it all serenade itself while he surveyed the progress. Then he held his cell phone up to it, turned a knob on something to a minute degree, and stood back to survey some more. Like this:

Lazy and conceptual as that is, it did sound good. He chewed on that straw all night. Incident of phallic obsession, exhibit A.

This guy's from Providence. You can tell because it looks like he fell asleep at the dumpster for two days and was chewed up by raccoons, and also because he puffy-painted his pedals to look like monsters.

Here he demonstrates another noise performance trend: standing with your back to the audience. You totally don't care that you're there, do you? You are ignoring everyone, you mystical disaffected hermit, you.

Too bad I snuck around the side. Incident of phallic obsession, exhibit B.

There's always some guy at the show who sits in the same place the entire time and doesn't move an nano-inch so you can't tell if he's fucked up on goofdust, exhausted, extremely chill, or so into it he's paralyzed, and when you try to take a picture of him the camera goes all weird. He's like Dracula.

Incident of phallic obsession, exhibit C.

This is more homoerotic than The Craft, but you can't ever go wrong when you smoosh techniques of the occult with rare synthesizers.

Here is the prerequisite Table of Stuff. The Table of Stuff contains much of the equipment used throughout the night, and is added on to as the night progresses to show off all the cool stuff that went into making the show possible. It's like balls on display.

Ah, the classic noise nerd in a suitcase. Sincerely, this is a relief to see. Thank you Todd Pendu for taking it back to the good ol' days. He's the other Todd P. who books noise shows, only his are darker, more obscure, and not so cluttered with "curious" NYU students. Word on the street is Todd P. refuses to call Todd Pendu by his name, because he's annoyed there's another Todd around who has the same first initial in his last name. I like this Todd right here better.

Those lights are fucking ugly in anyone's dorm room, but rig it into a contraption for sound and holy shit do you have the neatest newfangled instrument of the night. This guy seriously knew what he was doing, all scary and methodical and muscular like a trained serial killer. It's that heavenly five-minute release that suspends reality and perception, the thing that allows your mind to deny that some guy played a LAMP with a SPRING and you loved it.

TEEN LAQUEEFA