International Noise Conference: Where the Strangest Characters Come out to Play

A strange state of affairs to be playing at the first International Noise Conference you attend, but such were my circumstances last Thursday night. It was the third day (fourth counting the pre-INC show) of the 20th anniversary of Frank “Rat Bastard” Falestra’s International Noise Conference. Arquimedes (Bassist of Gucci Handelsman) and I arrived in our Lyft early at around 7:30 to the South Florida Registry of Alternative Music Archive. Jason Handelsman, our leader and vocalist who made waves as a prominent Miami performance artist and has been playing at INC for a little under a decade, had already arrived and we after a short setup began our own set of Gucci Handelsman.

The night continued with a sudden appearance of Aholsniffsglue, a raw Miami graffiti artist who was once part of the Huffer Collective with Handelsman and Jacob Katel; and The Worm, the Serpent, and the Dragon with Handelsman and Rat Bastard. AHOL, who was a part of a driving force behind the effort for Jason to go up on Judge Mathis (S17 E78), talked about his NFT projects, turning trash into art, and motivation with us for a short bit before heading out. “You gotta keep yourself out there” he claims, It’s hard work keeping your head above water and in a world where the water’s rising swimming becomes a real struggle.

One of the more inspirational appearances was Cuban-German bass legend Otto & Axel Von Schirach with Mr. Feathers. Otto brought his 7 year old son Axl to play. A wonderful partition of the noise scene is the inclusion of people from all walks of life and the love they have for this incredibly diverse and unhinged amalgam of acts from all across the world.

After interviewing some newcomers and veterans of the INC one can ascribe a real taste of the people that surround the noise music scene, Rat was heard saying “It brings all the weirdos out”. A group of people surrounding a scene of cacophonous sounds, like a dog licking itself in the middle of the night, those piercing foreign feelings of discomfort is the comfort zone of these strange and unique characters. German artist Micheal Freiwald commented, “It’s something special, anyone can get into it after some time. It brings the most unique characters out.”

Thankfully I was also able to play the post-INC Sunnday’s at the Barn and final day of the 20th anniversary of Rat Bastard’s International Noise Conference. The energy of everyone after a whole week of noise from all around the world could be described as anything but drained, everyone’s talents were elucidated here at the barn. Heading the pack was Echo Beauty Terror went first, also playing on the previous Thursday and third day of INC, they delivered a phenomenal improv set of harsh vocals coupled with jovial piano riffs. Next came the farewell to Florida show from The Hooded Figures, playing a trance-inducing piece that puts one into the observer state within their own mind creating an experience beyond sound. Leading into Bitter Lake followed shortly with a fantastic experimental solo rendition of the duo’s new songs.

After our own set of Gucci Handelsman (I’d like to say it went well), Adam Arritola and the Appartaions took the stage together alongside Italian artist Alessandara Zerbanati who within an earlier Gucci Handelsman show pissed into a bowl on stage during a Churchill’s INC. Rafa of Calenepuelco followed shortly as he blew down the house with his wild and weird noise performance; however, not before Rat Bastard took the stage one last time to put an end to the final day of the 20th annual INC 2023. Rat had previously mentioned that he was going to do a drone performance; contrarily, what he did not mention was what type of drone, which in fact turned out to be a quadcopter hooked up to a distortion pedal and a contact mic. A fitting end with a once in a lifetime Squelchers “drone set” performance by the legend himself.

Something about the spirit of noise music as the collective, playful usage of sound really emerges as each and every performer’s pieces are always unique and shine like a one of a kind star without competition or constraint. This year’s INC was phenomenal to see the energy people are bringing to each night, few would expect it to end anytime soon thanks to the support of a motley crew of the many passionate and skillful musicians and attendees within the scene. Thankfully there exists a website to keep track of the rich history as well as announcements for any future INC endeavors.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Jitney on Patreon! The Jitney needs gas. Please donate or become a Patron here
Become a patron at Patreon!

Garvin Klein

Garvin Klein is a South Floridian performance artist and musician who travels the world seeking new experiences and stories worth telling.