The assignment was kind of a dream come true — extremely morally ambiguous artists daring anyone in sight to defend them, enjoy them, or basically do anything other than be shocked by them (and buy tix), all heading straight for my neighborhood in Boston for the second annual Northeast Noise and Power Electronics Festival. This isn’t your typical indie-rock journalism. It’s guys in leather shrieking the most offensive stuff they can think of at each other while synths, mic feedback, and heaving electronics howl in the background. Naked vocalists streaked in blood hurling chairs across the room. It’s like covering the Hell’s Angels of underground music, the tech-zombie sons of G.G. Allin.
Is there talent involved? I wouldn’t even begin to get involved in it. Needless to say, something has coalesced into a pretty tangible scene, discernable rules, predictable tastes, so it would be weird to say there’s not something to it. What that is, exactly, is a lot tougher.
A page column turned out to not be the greatest venue for diving into this fascinating scene of supremely anti-social musicians (including legends like Whitehouse and Bloodyminded), performance artsists, and otherwise wretched miscreants (would love to write more if there are any deep-pocketed editors out there…), but this cursory look at the scene was not a bad way to get a first look. Curious? Check out a show, but be warned — as Karlheinz said during an interview, “If something in one of these performances finally does happen to cross the line, I think that might actually just be the point.”