"We're not snobs. We like to have fun." These two simple sentences conclude the press release announcing that this Saturday will mark the second anniversary of Cacophony, a showcase of, by, and for Portland's connoisseurs of experimental and extreme music, held monthly at the Someday Lounge. In their unpretentious assertion of playfulness, these eight words are the most insightful I have ever read about our city's flourishing noise community.
It may be strange to say that about music which is so inscrutable that even most of its practitioners are comfortable calling it "noise," but the assault-like, logic-impairing sonic fare served at Cacophony is really about good times. Don't let the screaming, auditory violence, or confrontational stage antics fool you—they're all part of the fun. The joy of being overwhelmed by the maelstrom of a noise show can best be compared to that of crapping your pants in terror while watching a horror movie with a bunch of friends. There is an electric, transgressive thrill in submitting yourself to the power of the unpleasant while surrounded by likeminded individuals. This pleasure is visceral, and accessible to all.Of course, not everyone enjoys listening to noise, a fact which causes fans of the genre to speak of their passions with a sense of proud embattlement more usually associated with Trekkies and comic book collectors. But, oh, how the bitterness fades away when devotees of a subculture congregate. Regardless of their level of zealotry, anyone who takes the step to attend a hobbyists' convention will be embraced by their chosen community as a fellow traveler. This kind of focused, mass enthusiasm is infectious, and it thrives on recurring communal events, which is why Cacophony is so important, and one of the best ways for noise-curious Portlanders to explore.
Ogo Eion, who founded Cacophony and guided it through an itinerant phase before it settled into the Someday Lounge last September, speaks to this idea: "I think Cacophony brings out a fair number of non-participants, if you will, in contrast to some of the smaller/more intimate noise shows I've been to, though the scene is certainly close-knit, and most of the regular faces have probably performed at some time in the past. I think this is a really positive trait of the scene, there's not much in the way of hurdles one must pass to be actively involved."
As for Saturday's anniversary show, every one of the 13 mostly local acts performing will be louder, faster, or something-er than what you would hear at your average concert. Be sure to catch Smegma, the godfathers of Portland experimental music who started all this strident fun 30 years ago.