Last May, punks, freaks and normies alike crammed into the Tulsa Artist Fellowship’s Cameron Studios for what was thought to be a one-time celebration of the most extreme sounds imaginable. The inaugural Tulsa Noise Fest, highlighting a genre built on dissonant loops and earth-shattering feedback, brought together a wide range of artists with one goal in common: to push the limits of sound into the most sonically-punishing realm possible.
But after the dull hum of last year’s festival subsided, co-organizer and Tulsa Artist Fellow Nathan Young realized locals wanted more. "There is a serious curiosity and enthusiasm for this kind of stuff in Tulsa," he said. Now, Young and fellow noise artist Matt Hex are making another go of it.
"[We] have been planning this year’s Tulsa Noise Fest since the last one really," Young said. "It helps to have a partner like Matt. His enthusiasm and love for noise and underground music is inspiring to me."
The two started with a wish list of their favorite acts, then reached out to their friends from scenes all over the country to find more performers. "Artists who we invite almost always say yes or are interested because a lot of people have not had the chance to visit Tulsa and want to check it out," Young said.
While the festival will draw extreme music acts from across the United States, it’s also a platform for local artists with an appetite for dissonance. "Last year’s was such an incredible experience, and probably the best noise festival or show that I’ve ever been to," Tulsa noise artist Natty Gray said. "It was a super strong lineup with absolutely no filler, and I’m sure this year’s will be the same way."
Even attendees with a high threshold for feedback should expect to be challenged. Just ask Caleb Campbell, one-half of the experimental hip-hop noise duo Campbell & Gardner. "[We] are so different that it’s seen as completely obscene to the rest of the community," he said. "Some people love it—others hate it. It’s very polarizing."
That polarization is baked into the DNA of Tulsa Noise Fest, but Gray hopes it won’t discourage newcomers. "I think a lot of first-timers would be really surprised at how much they would actually enjoy themselves. Plus it’s free and downtown! If you’re curious, there’s no excuse not to check it out."
"It’s unlike any other show you will experience," Campbell said. "Keep your mind open—and probably bring some ear plugs, ‘cause it can get loud as hell."
Tulsa Noise Fest
Cameron Studios – Tulsa Artist Fellowship | 303 N. Main St.
May 2–4, 7 p.m., free