Old faces return to create new music at The Union on Sunday.
The Athens Noise Show 2020 highlights the sounds of Athens from years ago. The noise show is put on by Aquabear Legion, an Ohio-based music collective. The show starts at 4 p.m. and wraps up around 7 p.m. at The Union, 18 W. Union St.
The term “noise” appears to be more avant-garde than it really is. Bands such as Radiohead, Sonic Youth and The Velvet Underground utilize noise in their musical stylings. Noise, simply put, is the unconventional use of musical sound.
Noise shows in Athens were a monthly event for a number of years, Brian Koscho, co-founder of Aquabear Legion, said. Noise shows informally started around 2005 and the latest one was in 2011.
“A group of friends, mostly the same people as now, started back then at ARTS/West right after it first opened,” Koscho said.
When the noise shows first started, Koscho had only been playing music for a couple years. He participated in the noise shows in his formative years.
“It’s an interesting thing now to re-approach from knowing, practicing and having played a lot more,” Koscho said.
To Koscho, the upcoming noise show is a reunion of sorts.
“(Noise shows are) so much fun to do,” Koscho said. “It sort of became this thing that we kicked around a lot, that we could do on a semi-regular basis. We had a trial run in December in a friend’s studio and it was a blast.”
Noise as a genre ranges in sound. The Athens Noise Show is similar to drone, experimental, improvisational music, Koscho explained. It’s a liberating and loose style of music.
“You’re hard pressed to have something that would be described as harsh noise,” Koscho said. “This probably drifts more into the end of psychedelic-experimental.”
Ostensibly, noise is less about genre and more about music, Andrew Lampela, a member of Aquabear Legion, said.
“(Noise music) is whatever comes out,” Lampela said. “It’s more reacting to what’s going on, (rather) than expectation.”
The Athens Noise Show will be composed of eight to nine 20-minute sets of music in a three hour period. All performances will be on the floor, stripped down and improvised. Noise music utilizes unorthodox sounds through music.
“(Noise music employs) techniques of weird stuff in instruments,” Koscho said.
The set-up will allow listeners to be present with the music, Koscho explained.
“It’s an opportunity to get outside your comfort zone and get weird,” Lampela said. “It’s a chance to freak out.”
The noise show represents something more than just Aquabear Legion, though. For Koscho and Lampela, it showcases what makes Athens so special -- all the artists and musicians in rural city.
“A lot of talent is concentrated here,” Lampela said. “A lot of bizarre people are concentrated here -- very cool, weird people who do awesome things.”
Koscho thinks the noise show is something different for The Union. Not only is noise a niche genre, but it’s rare to find venues that can support noise performances.
“If you haven’t been to The Union before and you are into live music, this is a really different thing,” Koscho said. “It’s a different sort of show with a different group of people.”
Koscho noted that local music figures will be at the show.
“You’re gonna see people who you’d recognize in other bands, or the old dudes you see around town,” Koscho said.
To Koscho, the date and time of the show is something that makes it different. Sunday afternoons are usually not too busy with events, parking is free and it makes for an early night.
“It might not be the most accessible genre, but we give it a really accessible time,” Koscho said.
Koscho recommends checking out Aquabear Legion’s Athena Headache podcast for a taste of noise music. He anticipates the next noise show to occur at ARTS/West, 132 W. State St. in early March. Koscho hopes to incorporate student participation and feature touring acts in future noise shows, too.
Zack Asher, a senior studying journalism, goes to shows at The Union every once in a while. He enjoys that though noise music is noise, listeners still find meaning. He thinks it’s important for people to find value in music.
“(Noise music) is a good thing to do,” Asher said. “As people we have an obligation to do something with art.”