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Loud and Proud: A 6-Step User's Guide To The International Noise Conference

The International Noise Conference returns to Churchill's Pub in Miami tonight, lasting through this Saturday, and this year's edition is a special one. It's the conference's 10th anniversary, and it's also, as we pointed out earlier this week, the first one boosted by a Knight Arts Challenge grant. That nod of institutional legitimacy gives weight to the fact that, even though the proceedings at the event can get loud, it's not all just a bunch of noise.

"[Noise music] is sounds that will make them react," says Frank Falestra, a.k.a. Rat Bastard, of conference-goers. That means that any kind of genre could fit under this umbrella, from laptop electronic music to metal. There's also a time limit imposed on each act: just 15 minutes, which means some 100 performers will appear between now and Saturday. What's noise to some is beautiful music to others, and vice versa, and the conference has always excelled in pushing the limits of those divides.

But don't be scared. For the open-minded, adventurous listener, there's plenty of new, interesting fare to discover over the next four days and nights. You've got little to lose except your time -- the entire conference is free. So for the first-timer, here are six steps to approaching the festival as a total newbie:

1) Show up early. This is a practical suggestion -- the official parking lot at Churchill's fills quickly during this well-attended event. Better yet, come on two wheels (or even on foot) if possible.

2) Look up the acts ahead of time. The lineup certainly features some colorful performer names, but those don't always give an accurate clue to their sound. The International Noise Conference site lists the entire schedule, complete with links, so you might spend some time browsing in advance.

3) Come prepared -- and get excited! The slate of acts entails more than the usual band running through straightforward songs on a stage. "Some of it is more performance art than music," says local artist Beatriz Monteavaro, who performs with her band Holly Hunt at 2:35 a.m. Thursday night/Friday morning. "Acts many times come up with a completely new act each year, or debut something new."

4) Go to the Friday night showcase, curated by Todd Lynne. Rat Bastard says these acts will be among the most melodic and casual listener-friendly of the whole event.

5) Beyond that, don't try to make too many specific plans about what you want to see. "Do not come with expectations," says local musician Buffalo Brown, who's performing at 9:45 tonight with his band Cog Nomen. "Do not come with expectations as you never know who you might discover or miss for trying to catch a specific act."

6) Bring earplugs. Monteavaro and Brown suggest earplugs. You'll likely hear a lot more pleasant sounds than you might expect. "A newbie would be surprised about how much of the noise is pleasant to the ear," Monteavaro says. Still, some of that is guaranteed, at some point, to reach maximum volume.

The International Noise Conference Churchill's Pub (5501 NE Second, Miami) runs from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Thursday and Friday night, and from 3 p.m. to 3 a.m. Saturday/Sunday morning. Admission is free and open to those age 18 and up. Call 305-757-1807, or visit squelchers.net/inc.htm for more details.