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“The Watchers” is a film adaptation of the 2022 book of the same name by A.M. Shine.
Review: “The Watchers”
Published June 13, 2024

Noise in da ‘hood

The Minneapolis International Noise Conference aims for diverse eccentricity this year.
Jaime Carrera at a local Mexican market in Minneapolis on Monday. Carrera will be performing at the International Noise Conference at the Hexagon Bar on June 6.
Image by Jaak Jensen
Jaime Carrera at a local Mexican market in Minneapolis on Monday. Carrera will be performing at the International Noise Conference at the Hexagon Bar on June 6.

Syrupy is never a word that’ll be heard in reference to noise music, unless it’s an allusion to sludge, spoiled milk or maybe the way a hand drips down a modified fret board.

The best way to describe a noise act is to emphasize the ‘act’ part of the equation. Noise as a genre of music — if you can call it music — is akin to performance art. It’s about the experience; there’s a vast difference between listening to a recording and crowding into some dank basement while a guy creates sounds befitting an alien transmission.

“There are so many great bands out there to see, but do you remember them? It’s just another great band,” said Jason Wade, a member of local noise band Cock E.S.P. and event organizer. “You’re going to remember the show where somebody throws a garbage can at you.”

This weekend’s Minneapolis International Noise Conference, or MPLS INC, aims to embrace the multiple facets of noise weirdness, including comedy, dance, performance art and music, from punk-rock to the more familiar home-cooked contraptions of noise mainstays.

The five-hour long event features 30 acts, each playing a 10-minute set. It will progress relay style, with no breaks; as a nod to noise rock purists, laptops are not allowed. The organizers want the kind of enlivened performance that screens and keys interfere with.


Gimme what?

A phenomenon born in the early part of 20th century, noise rock can be traced to psychedelic rock and fringe jazz experimentation of the ’50s and ’60s.

Noise of today is a visceral experience that maintains a subversive, underground status, sharing traits with just about anything that attempts to be different from the status quo.

“There’s been noise around since before it was called noise,” said Rana May, a local comedian and MPLS INC participant. “Noise musicians and comedians both try to cross the line, to mess with people’s preconceptions.”

Befitting the haphazard nature of the show, Thee Nodes manager and former member Matt Smith admitted that their presence at MPLS INC is coincidence because they “needed a gig.”

“We’re expecting a lot of noise — not music,” Smith said.

A guy can put a guitar pickup on a piece of sheet metal, play it with a bow, bend it or whack it — the resulting experience is undoubtedly interesting, though the actual sound could be questionable aesthetically.

“I like abrasive sounds,” local musician Paul Metzger said. “When I hear things that are pleasant I get agitated.”

Metzger is known for his guitar and banjo instrumentals, though he’s tinkering with a series of music boxes that he’s altered with distortion to create a sort of analog synthesizer.

If all of this has you scratching your head then May, with her informational speech, can hopefully shed some light on what the hell is happening come this Thursday night.


Year two in Minneapolis

The main International Noise Conference happens annually in Miami. It’s the brainchild of Rat Bastard, the main member of the Laundry Room Squelchers. This weekend’s conference is the second iteration of the Minneapolis spinoff.

Laundry Room Squelchers, Bulgarian group S.D.U. and Montreal rockers Thee Nodes round out what is a predominantly local bill.

If an experiment falls flat, the brevity of sets keeps things moving.

“Last time I saw a group, it was so long,” May said. “The best punk and noise bands have sets under 20 minutes.”

That is a sentiment reiterated by participants: a fundamental dissatisfaction with duration. MPLS INC tapped into the musical impatience of the listener who always wants more, differently.

Jaime Carrera exemplifies this: A member of Cock E.S.P. and a solo performer this year, he specifically aims to stand out — as if with so many disparate elements there’s a standard to “fit” with. He’ll be taking the stage as Pudgy, an obscene, shirtless, singing pig-man obsessed with the spotlight.

Drew Ailes, front man for local hardcore band Brain Tumors, will reflect on the spotlight, performing spoken word as the Henry Rollins of Minneapolis.

“I really am the Henry Rollins of Minneapolis as a front man for a hardcore band — it’s a burden I have to bear. I just want people to understand what I’ve gone through and feel the way I feel,” Ailes said. “Really I’m just going to get drunk and throw beer on people.”

Typical. Antagonism seems to be a mainstay of noise.


What: Minneapolis International Noise Conference

When: 9 p.m., Thursday

Where: Hexagon Bar, 2600 S. 27th Ave., Minneapolis

Cost: Free

Age: 21+


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