The 13 Best St. Louis Noise/Experimental Bands in 2013

Categories: Best Of

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Mabel Suen
Beauty Pageant

St. Louis has such a rich history of experimental music, dating back to late '60s with the Black Artists Group (BAG) and early '70s with the Human Arts Ensemble. Through the '90s, the St. Louis-based SkiNGRAFT Records became a premier label for experimental punk and noise-rock. The fact that the New Music Circle, an organization that exclusively curates free-jazz, improv and exploratory music, is now in its 55th year is a testament to the survival of the genre in our city.

See also: 2013 RFT Music Award Experimental Category Winner: Ou Où

Fast-forward to 2013, and St. Louis becomes a treasure trove of experimental music, albeit under a more punk-rock-inspired vibe. The catchall term is now noise -- a name most commonly used to describe music that really fits nowhere else. The following groups and solo artists loosely fit together under the guise of experimental music.

These thirteen names play a vital role in St. Louis music by providing real alternatives to the musical norm. Presented to you in alphabetical order, this list is just a starting point, so read on and explore to find more noise on your own.

Beauty Pageant

Beauty Pageant serves up an atonal racket through scattered percussion and warped guitars. The band's influence reaches far beyond its sound, as each member plays a pivotal role in local arts. Guitarist Mister Ben is responsible for the long-standing comic zine Freezerburn and the sordid concert series simply titled NOiSE. Vocalist Blyre Cpanx is deeply involved in St. Louis burlesque, and drummer Wiggpaw also heads Skarekrau Radio, our city's bustling no-wave cult.

Beauty Pageant's core lineup also includes area artist David Burnett, but the band's extended family features about a dozen area musicians. While bringing a mostly punk-rock approach to the genre, Beauty Pageant opts to throw down with little to no practice or preparation. Beauty Pageant shows are consistently strong and especially dependable in the seedy underbelly of the St. Louis music scene.

See also: Beauty Pageant Issues a Noisy "Earbortion"

Read on for twelve more Noise/Experimental Artists.

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34 comments
zaxxdavros
zaxxdavros

To hateful/willfully ignorant "commentors". Any band doing anything against the deeply rooted backwoods/backwards sonic ignorance of the city isn't going to be remotely susceptible to any hate you "wannabeleet ass dad rockers" have to say. And to the guy angry thinking there decent money being made in these sounds? Utterly laughable even for international acts in far greater cities. It's vastly hand to mouth.   

converseman
converseman

pretty funny that people assume noise and experimental artists don't know how to play their instruments.  and people who play covers and can solo in a box do.  if only they'd get to know us a little more :)  or maybe that would shut them up and they'd die

rjsyers
rjsyers

This is why I don't like underground music being discussed in the open. Some dumbass who thinks Sammy Hagar is the greatest musician ever is gonna get all butt hurt because he doesn't understand a goddamn thing about music. Sure, you can play all of Stevie Ray's riffs, but you can't create your own riffs to save your life, or get your band noticed beyond a bunch of drunk weekend warriors who wouldn't know real music if they crashed their 49 year old first-time-harley-riding ass into a truck loaded with it. 

Later, I'm off to get beer and to punch the first hoosier I see in a KSHE shirt in the face. Fucking retards. 

Susan Trowbridge Adams
Susan Trowbridge Adams

If the commenter had heard The Fluff of Murder at Noisefest on Sunday, I don't think there'd have been any question about technique and virtuosity. And, further -- there's plenty of music played that I don't like at all, whether it's experimental or otherwise. I don't like Wagner, I don't like Mahler, and I don't like Brittney Spears. Paris rose up and rioted when "The Rite of Spring" opened. I heart Brian Eno. I also heart Pete Namlook. What's Bon Iver if not experimental? The Inner Banks? oh my god, to make you weep. Make your sounds! Play the building!

Joshua Rayfield
Joshua Rayfield

Is this not the same argument that gets made all the time about traditional art versus digital art? There's room for both in this big wide world in my opinion. There's no reason why music should be any different. Expression is expression.

Rick Kohn
Rick Kohn

some of the best music to come out of rock was 'experimental' at the time; Zappa, King Crimson,Genesis,ect.

Katie Benoit
Katie Benoit

I definitely believe noise music not only has merit, but has a history alongside that of rock & roll! Musique concrète started up in the 1940's around pirate radio broadcasts in France. Prior to that, Luigi Rissolo wrote a manifesto called "The Art of Noises" that has been highly influential in challenging the notion of what we consider "music". Personally, I listen to a lot of music. Although I was raised on a steady diet of Classic Rock and 70's R&B, I also listen to noise music when I am in the right mood. Some of Aphex Twin's more abstract works have no certain meter or melodies that aren't quite constant. Controlled Bleeding have done so many different genres of music, noise included. Jarboe has created artistic audio concepts around such themes as how the human body works and ancient Indian deities. Like any other genre of music, noise music has to speak to you. If you'd rather hear "Wrecking Ball" for the 70-millionth time, then by all means, be my guest. I personally prefer to have my concepts challenged, and listen to all the different sounds in the world, not just typical ones.

Ron Clements
Ron Clements

I'm pretty sure a "noise/experiemental" band is for those folks who don't know how to play music.

Philip Peimann
Philip Peimann

I'm glad Chris took the time to type out my response, basically.

Chris Yoshi Diener
Chris Yoshi Diener

I can see both sides. I don't really understand how it can be insulting however. We train as "professional musicians" and learn the "traditional" way of playing our instruments in whatever style. However, that being said, what we do tend to forget is that, these traditional instruments were experimental at one point. In fact, the entire reason J.S. Bach wrote the Well-Tempered Clavier books, was because this new idea of equal temperament tuning was absolutely insane for his time. Now it's a traditional tuning for a lot of our instruments today. Going back to the early church forbidding the use of a tritone interval because it "sounded like the devils chord" due to the dissonance, is another great example, and of course, who can forget the riots that broke out at the debut of The Rite of Spring by Stravinsky? All these musicians were trained in the "traditional way" they just chose to push the limits of their time. I don't see a way that any of this is "offensive". I don't particularly enjoy this type of music myself (noise/experimental), however, it's people and groups like this that got us to where we are musically today. To me, to be offended by it means that you are completely closed off to the idea of outside the box thinking. Which leads to insanity, remember, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly expecting different results.

Drew Walker
Drew Walker

And in his "thousand hours of practice" he hasn't taken the time to listen to some music outside of his comfort zone.

Jean Reif Geurts
Jean Reif Geurts

I saw John Cage play radios with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. It made the audience mad.

Adamm Lee Saint Clair
Adamm Lee Saint Clair

As a musician I see where that guy was coming from....but I'm sure cats in the late 19th century felt the same way about atonal music in the early 20th. That guy needs to chill out.

Allison Benoit
Allison Benoit

I don't have an opinion but wanted to tag Katie Benoit, who I believe might have some thoughts.

Chris Palazzolo
Chris Palazzolo

Insulting to musicians who can really play their instruments. We have dedicated thousands of hours in practice and performance, and this crap gets attention. This is a direct result of people getting participation medals instead of actually winning one by earning it.

thedefenestrator
thedefenestrator

@Ron Clements Ron, I'm pretty sure you should stick to what you know. Like Dire Straits, for instance. You like them, and so you know that they wrote a song about baseball, which is a very popular sport. And, it should be noted that said song's conventional chords, time signatures, and overall compositional structure clearly demonstrate that they do, in fact know how to play music. Correctly. This should be contrasted with all of those who play music incorrectly, and those who write songs about less traditional, less popular topics. We can all agree that those folks could learn a thing or two about music from Dire Straits, and, more importantly, from learned people, such as yourself, who like Dire Straits and are therefore qualified to opine on what constitutes legitimate music. I'd say you and your ilk owe the world a bit more knowledge. Don't keep your light under a bushel, Ron. 

thedefenestrator
thedefenestrator

@Chris Palazzolo 

Chris, did you actually listen to thebands listed? If you had, I would bet you would find that there are some who have racked up the requisite number of practice and performace hours to be considered legitimate musicians even by someone with such a discerning palate as yours.

wreckdumb
wreckdumb

@Chris Palazzolo Yeah, man. You're right. I found this recording of your playing, and I must say I'm really impressed. Hitting the snare on 2 and 4 like that is, like, really hard. These guys totally couldn't do that.

BTW, everybody, this is what real music sounds like:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__fMX1BelHw

poopoofighter
poopoofighter

@Chris Palazzolo Quit raining on my parade, Dad! How did you even find this? Aren't you supposed to be at Melissa's gymnastics meet? Don't tell me you're doing this over your iPhone. You and Mom just don't understand me or my art!

themiamidolphins
themiamidolphins

@Chris Palazzolo you're right, man. plus these guys are getting paid buttloads to play wtf. also, john cage is a piece of crap.

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fgfdgdfgdfdf

@thedefenestrator  

Being the best noise rock band is like being the best smelling turd in the toilet. Im willing to bet that our opinionated friend here ( and anyone who agrees with him ) is only so defensive because he's in one of these so called bands. Or he's clinging to the genre of noise rock, as an excuse to not practice his instrument. Its not personal, you can listen to what ever you want, but don't call it music, because its not. Just push some garbage down the stairs and you can hear the same sounds. At least that will likely have some rhythm.

www.erichall
www.erichall

Did anybody else play this video all the way through and start singing along about a minute into it? 

Christopher_Dee
Christopher_Dee

@fgfdgdfgdfdf

Practice-averse Yowie hides under the catch-all banner of "noise" to distract from their complete lack of rhythm. Without the crutch of improvisation, they are nothing. It's a Jackson Pollock painting for the ears, and we all know that "anyone can do that."

www.erichall
www.erichall

Just push some garbage down a going-up escalator once and you'll have your entire set taken care of. This guy is a game-changer. Honestly, the RFT should do an article about the music of the people who are so opposed to this article, just to get both sides of the coin.

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