No Fun Fest '07

No Fun Fest 07 (Inside) The 2007 No Fun Fest at the Hook in Brooklyn covered four nights, but my schedule only allowed me two, and jet lag (the great universal excuse) made me bail early on the second evening—meaning I missed Meate and Oblivia, Tom Recchion, Ju Suk Reet, Keijo Haino, and Merzbow. If you were there for all of it, please feel free to write us with your impressions, and together we can make a review that does the festival some justice.

In the meantime, evening two, my first, opened with Charlie Draheim, whose set cast a long shadow over the succeeding acts. I attended this with some friends for whom this was their first experience of noise artists, and his rich, dark sound was very pleasing to them.

No Fun Fest 07 (Outside) Princess Dragonmon was more focussed on show. Though the music was pretty satisfyingly loud, it wasn’t as complex or varied as Draheim’s. Which is fine—that’s what a festival’s all about, variety. And, after Grunt (which was sadly bedevilled by technical problems), that meant some old school acts. Well, Mouthus+Axolotl only used some 80’s punk licks to contrast with indeterminate steady state noise, but Anti-Freedom was unapologetically punk. I heard the very words “old school” from four different people. The audience seemed to like it OK, though, on the whole…

…which was not so true for Raionbashi & Kutzkelina’s set, which both alternated between and combined yodelling and harsh noise. There were some catcalls for the yodelling, which I thought was pretty good, and which, run through some echo processing and overlaid with electronic grunge, made for an unexpectedly cool version of noise art. I was a bit surprised that this combination was too radical for some people there. By the end of the set, though, I think they’d won most of the audience over.

With Carlos Giffoni, we were back to serious, hardcore music making—no frills, no show, just good, long, minimal noise. Very satisfying. But then came Sissy Spacek, two guys from L.A. who turned us all on our heads. They started out just noodling around—not even clear at first if they were playingnoodling or just screwingaroundnoodling. Some really quirky little sounds, though, and some nice physical banter (one guy waving a cymbal around the other guy’s guitar to make some feedback).

But this was all just a ploy to lull us to sleep. I’m not even sure I should spoil their act for someone who hasn’t seen them, yet. It’s not an easy decision. I want to report on the event, and I want to give them high praise for what they do. But I also want anyone who hasn’t seen them to see them pure, untainted by my spoiler. So that’s my decision: go see them if you possibly can. You will be royally entertained.

And then, the ultimate combination of show and music. Incapacitants. This was a non-stop orgy of wild noise and wild playing—just watching these guys makes you happy, plus you get the most varied and complex and loud music you could ever possibly need. A great end to a great (if uneven) evening.

Unfortunately, evening two for me (the third of the festival) was not so good. I got there late because of “scheduled maintainence” on the line. (That’s universal excuse number two.) So I missed Gastric Female Reflex, whom I’d met the night before. I’ve visited their site, though, and listened to their “throw everything at you all at once” kind of music, which I like very much. I’m very sorry I missed their live show, but their site’s a hoot. I might have missed that had I seen their show (and had no gap in my life to fill).

I did catch a little of The Rita, though, which sounded very lovely—high, hard sounds, extremely loud. And then I caught all of the Demons, a very tasty set with noise and video, lots of variety visually and musically.

But then the suffering started, my suffering at least. And my solution, to leave the show early, was questionable. (So easy to look back, rested, at a weary time and think, “I shoulda stayed.”)

Next year, I’ll get to New York several days before the festival, get plenty of rest, and attend all the minutes of all the shows. That is my goal.

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