Savage Weekend takes place at the Nightlight in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and has become another DIY fest to draw a lot of the east coast jank bands together for a marathon of noise. There’s no doubt the International Noise Conference has served as the template for this, and like that 10-year-old gathering, this one also packs tons of varied acts playing 15 minute sets into a couple of days. The connecting thread is “noise” and there are plenty of straight-up noise bands, but like INC that term is left wide open. It’s an exhausting and intense experience which is a labor of love for Ryan Martin the organizer and for everyone who travels to play, almost certainly losing money and sleep to do so. But it’s worth it, as can be felt in the warm afterglow among all attendees after particularly cathartic performances or during morning-after hugs goodbye.
It would be impossible to summarize everything, and I missed some things which I heard were amazing (like Ciccio Boys and Mincemeat Or Tenspeed when I simply had to nap for 30 minutes in the car) so I’ll mostly just post a few of the best photos I got and a few vivid memories. If you have additional documentation, please leave a comment! Above is Dromez, an intense harsh noise act from Texas that went on early in the fest and was one of the first to whip the crowd into a frenzy.
Unguent (ex-Dick Neff) plays looping, garbled swampy sounds that resemble some kind of alien music, while watching a psychedelic maze morphing on a TV screen.
Lazy Magnet, unpredictable in the past, played tight, danceable electronic music – which he claims is his new permanent (?) style.
Tanz Praxis is a new and exciting team-up of C Lavender and Ellen Foster, both long-time noise makers on their own, combining noise, video, and dance performance. Spooky, loud, and cool.
Toe Ring plays what’s almost straight techno, but with a gritty, industrial? (I saw someone describing it as “grouchy”) flavor. It’s hard to put your finger on exactly what he’s doing so right, but this got the whole crowd stoked and moving, even though it was happening at 3AM, after 9 hours of other acts.
Of course there’s a little time for relaxing, Saturday afternoon before night 2 starts. Many visitors are piled into local houses, but a large contingent of travelers staying at the Chapel Hill University Inn hung by the pool for the afternoon. A gang of Tampa noise girls even turned it into a regular pool party, but no noise boys were bold enough to approach…
Crank Sturgeon, one of the more senior noise celebrities, doing one of his signature absurdist performances. Notice all the smiles!
Moth Cock. A few trusted people casually told me that I should probably not miss this one. They were right. Total confusion sound but with a bizarre kind of groove, it gets really layered and hyperactive and psychedelic. Really awesome, I’m a big fan now.
i_like_dogface impressed people at I.N.C. and I think many of us were looking forward to it here. Some smart light effects and a relatively simple electronic set-up used to great effect. Shifted vocals and weird electronic sounds that built to a heavy rhythmic noise climax.
The Waitress. Two ladies from NYC, Jane and Ciarra, who played to a short film about them – yes, as waitresses – taking grisly, protracted revenge on a really offensive restaurant customer in B-horror movie style.
Russian Tsarlag dropped a hush over the room so thick that no one would even shoot flash photos, then made everyone crack up between songs with his deadpan deconstruction of rock band tropes. (He played a tape of himself reciting in a monotone loop phrases like “I love this venue” and “I hope you like my music”)
Humanbeast. Damn, what to say about these killers?! If one act could and should actually be giant, famous rock stars of this whole lot, it’s them. Tense, gothy noise-pop that’s seductive but frequently painful. They have an album coming out soon on Load, and even though I haven’t heard it, I’m calling it as one of the best albums of the year now.
Andrea Pensado’s wicked processed vocal noise had everyone shrieking and screaming in response.
One of the most anticipated acts was Form A Log, the all-star, all-cassette band. Ren (of Container), Noah (of Profligate), and Rick (THE Rick Weaver) patch together absurd song-like constructs from found and faux samples. They had everyone throwing Benjis (it’s a Log Culture thing – Form A Log cultivates a whole language of in-jokes – only the band members understand them all) people tried to dance, and there was even crowd-surfing!
Kimberly’s performance had her screaming into a turntable stylus (which, yes, will pick up the sound apparently) and smashing at least a dozen sheets of glass ON HER FACE. I somehow caught a before and after of this happening in this photo. She had already, as a member of Contortionist Jazz Exotica, destroyed a pile of household and industrial objects the night before, and somehow came away from all this without any visible injuries.
Lazer Slut was spending his set (of blown out 8-bit techno) bent over like this, so his friends decided to balance objects on his back and pour various fluids on him.
Tinnitustimulus, the last act of the entire event, whipped those who stuck it out into a frenzy. Dynamics, momentum, raw energy, if you dig harsh noise, this guy is one of the best, period.
There are many more photos that I took HERE.
Just a few other strong memories: Hunnie Bunnies were off the chain, booty bass beats and harsh noises! Unicorn Hard-On showed everyone how it was done, hype electro-dance in a nice short burst. Spiritual Recess doing a total freak-out confusion act, it was impossible to know what was intentional, luck, or accident. Sagan Youth Boys’ deep synth sequencing. Pvre Matrix whipping up a noisy rave. A Misfits cover band (??) starting a room-wide mosh pit. Ironing’s radical anti-DJ style, piling records and record pieces onto multiple turntables.
UPDATE! Lots of excellent photos by David Kenedy found HERE!
Can’t wait for next year!