Santa Ana Noise Fest Inspires Underground Artists to Turn It Up

Skunk Puppet playing at last year's Noise Fest
Skunk Puppet playing at last year's Noise Fest
Stephen Anderson

Most music fans in OC have no intention of looking under the rug at the sounds that exist in the noisy underbelly of our avant-garde music scene. But you can find them Saturday at the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art (OCCCA), where some our most inventive young artists will come to tear the definition of "music" to shreds at a yearly event dubbed the Santa Ana Noise Fest.

Stephen Anderson remembers the first time he started booking bands that traded in the art of celestial feedback and unholy squall in 2008. "We had a lot of very small, very underground shows with garage rock and sometimes punk bands," the founder of Noise Fest says. "But it evolved. We started getting more experimental bands. So then in 2008, we started Noise Fest."

The festival's organizers are expecting a huge turnout for this sixth edition. "Since we began this event, it's gotten more organized," Anderson says. "It's a different genre, of course; people don't typically realize it's not just about volume or being loud--that's not totally it. If you look online, noise music has a long history; it's just not mainstream. But several bands do incorporate noise into their music--Sonic Youth, for example."

Anderson says he is proud to be part of a growing music scene. "It's only getting bigger," he says, "and I compare this scene to the noise scene up in Northern California, where it's been going strong for over 15 years."

At this year's Noise Fest, the 14 scheduled bands and artists will have 20-minute sets, with DJs spinning music in between. "All of the bands are so visceral and have a lot of heart and are full of expression," Anderson says. "It will be mesmerizing."

Despite its sucesses during the past five years, Anderson says he is a bit surprised at Noise Fest's growing notoriety and popularity. "We just opened up this fest to newer bands, and there are a lot of bands we've never had before, but we're all stoked they are from different regions and all over southern California," he says.

"I think a highlight people should check out is this act called Endometrium Cuntplow," Anderson continues, "which is one man with these insane and mind-blowing noise-musical sounds."

Santa Ana Noise Fest IV at the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, 117 N. Sycamore, Santa Ana; Sat. See website for times. Free with online RSVP; $10 at the door.

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