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Dusted's Sam Frank and Ben Tausig report back from this year's No Fun Fest.

No Fun Fest

No Fun Fest, a long, loud March weekend in Brooklyn featuring basement tapers from across America and abroad, knocked down theses as soon as they were set up. Noise is the new hardcore. Noise is the new free jazz. Noise is the new pop. Or maybe: People like hanging on pipes and trading tapes and moshing without malice and meeting people and examining the stuff they’ve made by hand and just blasting. The new noise, if it’s that, is almost without hierarchy: The bands are the fans, and the jams is the jams. Virtuosos and amateurs coexist, even collaborate, Noise needs noises, and anyone can make noises.

Wolf Eyes and Hair Police were everywhere, side projects splintering, all of them ruling, maybe because both bands wrap a loose but very present song-form around even the ugliest sounds. (Aaron Dilloway’s solo set, for example, didn’t have songs but did have an arc, and people rioted and stopped and fell down on cue.) Laptops fit in somewhere, but the Euro-Mego thing was tangential to the rockish core. (Massimo’s jock-jam arpeggiations did sound great for a while, though.) Same for older-style improv (especially in the various Sonic Youth spin-offs); its attention-span aesthetic didn’t quite jibe, whatever its merits on its own terms. Tom Smith (To Live and Shave in L.A., and a collaboration with Sightings) is the greatest singer of his generation, or thinks he is.

What stuck during and after the three days was all the tiny bands from small cities across the continental U.S. Their instruments varied from acoustic to analog to electric to digital, from voice to violin; their sounds from whiteout noise to something that might be mistaken for post-punk. Everyone knew of everyone, and approved, or was willing to make like they did, ears open if ear-plugged. This is an American indie network to put the vaunted ’80s to shame, and the best thing going.

—Sam Frank

Wolf Eyes
Twig of Nautical Almanac

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