We pulled into the industrial complex around dark, parked, and I cracked open a beer in what is the usual pre-show ritual. A small crowd was starting to build and there were already a few familiar faces of folks just as strange as us, people gathered here at the Venture Compound to do strange things in the name of art.
The Venture Compound is St Petersburg’s best-kept secret, and easily the most important destination in the Tampa Bay area for avant-garde youth, weirdos, and outsider artists of all disciplines. While nestled inside the warehouse arts district, the graffiti covered façade is hard to miss… standing out like a beacon to purveyors of all things odd.
This night was a special; it was the kick off of the ninth annual St Pete Noise Fest, a two-night celebration of noise/experimental music. Once again, our band Blk/Mas was lucky enough to be a part of the festival.
Due to my job’s constraint on my schedule we don’t play shows anywhere near as much as we used to… in fact, I had to hold on to my very last vacation day just to insure that I would make this, my favorite show of the year… the first night, anyway.
Three beers later, it was already time for us to play. My buddy Shawn took his place behind his modular system, while assumed position behind a theremin and a turntable. It’s comical that no matter how many times I do this I am utterly nervous beforehand. However, once we start our set I lose my self-consciousness, and what we do becomes the aural equivalent of spontaneous prose. Fifteen minutes and it was done, another one in the books.
I got to see many bands I hadn’t had the pleasure of watching before, and I don’t think our set was half-bad either. It’s odd. We have been doing this since we were teenagers, I don’t think I ever really imagined ourselves in our forties taking on the role of reluctant elder statesmen of the noise scene amongst some people half our age. It’s fine… and I imagine myself still doing it another twenty years from now provided the scene will have me.
Of course, I use the term “elder statesmen” because it sounds cool… dignified even. The truth is we are probably more accurately described as a couple old weird middle-aged guys. However, here at this place, a haven for the adventurous and the outcast, it is okay. Perhaps we signify hope in the fact that you don’t ever have to grow up.
I’m overthinking it though, we are two shy wallflowers likely not noticed by anyone until we take the stage. That’s fine though, it is not about us… it never was, it was always about the sound.
We left several acts later in the night as festivities still rolled on. As always we found ourselves reinvigorated and inspired by the St Pete Noise Fest. However, hunger and real life was calling. It would be back to the factory soon, but I would be returning to work feeling much lighter on my feet… the result of another catharsis of glorious noise.