No Music Festival

Van's Peppy Syncopators,
Thurston Moore
Jojo Hiroshige
Knurl
Alan Licht
Nihilist Spasm Band
Forest City Gallery, London, Ontario.
March 27 and 28

It was billed as Canada's first noise festival and it more than lived up to its name. Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore, of course, was the main attraction, coming at the request of the Spasm Band, who had earlier turned down his invitation to tour with Sonic Youth. And he didn't disappoint, following the Chicago-based Syncopator's avant garde improv and poetry, with a solo performance that combined guitar theatrics and pure sonic improvisation. But it was only when he was joined by Tokyo's Hiroshige that things began to heat up, with the Hijokaidan guitarist delivering the knock out blows in a sprawling, ear-bursting finale. The next night Hiroshige picked up where he left off as he and his partner, vocalist Junko, demonstrated why Japan is the noise capital of the world. This duo take noise to a level of ritual performance. Other highlights were Toronto's Al Moore aka. Knurl with his scorching industrial torture played on a large coil and a fireplace grate and Run On guitarist Licht's screwdriver and guitar minimalism. Canada's oldest noise outfit, the Spasm Band was the raison d'etre for the festival and they ablely proved why all these artists had come especially to play with them. Part Dadaist absurdity and part groundshaking cacophony, the Spasm Band with their modified and homemade instruments roamed the stage as masters of noise, despite the heavy fireworks from Hiroshige and Moore who joined them.

But if the main stage performances were more than filling, the all-festival- artist improvs after each night were more fulfilling. In countless combinations and collaborations, these artists indulged in ego-free improvisations that demonstrated why they not only have great chops but great ears. Til next year.