Bring the noize

Inaugural Amplified Humans Festival set to detonate

By Gary Spencer

Noise music isn’t for everyone, but on the other hand, what is? Mostly devoid of melody, structure, tonality, and discernable rhythm, noise music can be akin to the sound of TV static or refrigerator humming to the untrained ear. But to those who enjoy noise, it’s a liberating sonic experience that one can easily get sucked into – a world where experimentation, abrasiveness, and abandon of musical rules turns otherworldly sounds into high art or at the minimum, a surefire way to get giddy while pissing off your neighbors at high volumes.

Noise music’s roots can be traced back to the early 20th century Futurist and Dada arts movements in Europe, as well as the musique concrete created by composers such as Karlheinz Stockhausen and Pierre Schaeffer, and has been explored by more mainstream artists like The Beatles and Lou Reed. Since then, the noise genre has grown in extremes in all directions thanks in part to the aesthetic influences of heavy metal, industrial, and ambient music. On Aug. 12 and 13, the inaugural Amplified Humans Festival will touch upon an array of contemporary harsh noise, industrial, and experimental music originating from the Gem City and from as far away as Japan.

“I’ve always had the idea of booking a noise festival [in Dayton],” says Skeleton Dust Recordings label honcho and Amplified Humans organizer Luke Tandy. “To me, it would be the ultimate live statement of the art and music that I supported and loved. For the last 10 years, Dayton has had a reputation of having an excellent scene of noise and experimental art and music…I felt that it was time for a large-scale representation of noise and experimental music that could be shared with pre-existing fans from all over, and people that have never heard noise or experimental music previously, all in a public setting.”

Tandy has been hosting national and regional noise acts in mostly secret locations such as basements and warehouses around the Dayton area for nearly a decade. Inspired by other artists and musicians around him, he founded Skeleton Dust Recordings as an outlet for releasing his own noise projects such as Being, Harness, and Orgasmic Response Unit, as well as other artists both local and national.

Tandy moved to Dayton from Muncie, Indiana, in 2007.

“As soon as I moved here, I was thrown into an incredible and exciting scene of noise, experimental, and just plain weird music,” Tandy explains. “I had been experimenting with noise for the year prior on my own in Indiana, but Dayton was my first real experience of living in a community of like-minded artists and open-minded people doing awesome stuff…Amplified Humans is the culmination of the 10 years of hosting shows. It’s what I intend to be the perfect lineup of some of the best artists working in abrasive and experimental sounds.”

For the festival, Tandy is collaborating with Stefan Aune of the New Forces label out of Michigan for two days of harsh noise, power electronics, legit industrial, and otherwise unclassifiable experimental music at a public location in the Gem City for the very first time.

“The main focus of the festival is definitely on artists that do ‘harsh noise,’ a subgenre of noise that thrives on abrasive, textural sound, and high volume,” Tandy says.It’s a mix of local, national, and international artists featured on [Skeleton Dust and New Forces] labels.”

The lineup is highlighted by the appearance of three esteemed noise artists from Japan: Killer Bug, Kazuma Kubota, and Facialmess. The fest also features Knurl, Scalp Elevator, and The Rita from Canada, and prolific American noise heavyweights such as John Wiese, Rodger Stella, Richard Ramirez, Plague Mother, Kakerlak, and many others, some of which are performing exclusively at AHF. As Tandy explains, he was ready to go above and beyond to put together a festival lineup that would attract attention to Dayton as a leader in staging world-class live noise.

They lead a crowdfunding campaign, which enabled them to pay for the travel costs for two of the Japanese artists. “When we asked Kazumoto Endo of Killer Bug if he would be interested in playing, we thought our chances were slim of him agreeing to perform as he hasn’t played in the U.S. in 10 years – and hasn’t performed under the Killer Bug moniker in over 20 years. He agreed and we couldn’t be more honored. Many acts are visiting Dayton specifically for the festival, which is very encouraging.

When it came to selecting a venue for Amplified Humans, the Yellow Cab Tavern in downtown Dayton seemed like a perfect fit for a music festival of this nature.

“I love the history of the venue being the former Yellow Cab Taxi headquarters here in Dayton and how it has been repurposed into a community venue and gallery space. The venue has a nice industrial vibe that will be conducive to the sounds created within during the fest.”

Tandy also asserts that the vibe of experiencing whirring electronics, blasting feedback, distorted rhythms, and all assortments of chaotic audio cacophony in a live setting through a high powered PA is not just like merely attending a concert – it’s an experience that you hear, see, and feel. “Experiencing noise on recording is quite different than witnessing it live,” he explains. “When listening to it on recording, it can be very foreign for the inexperienced listener because it’s so different than typical music and you have a hard time trying to make sense of it. When witnessing it live, the listener gets more context for how the sounds are created and they can watch the artist at work, rather than wondering how all these strange sounds are made.

And even if you’re not a noise or experimental music aficionado at first, or even after the fact, Tandy says that all attendees will take away something powerful from coming to the Amplified Humans Festival: 

“To me, noise and experimental music are just another form of art, similar to abstract painting or ballet; even if you aren’t a part of the culture already, it’s easy to recognize the passion and love that these artists have for their work when it’s done well, which can be an inspiring thing to witness. The fest is a celebration of our love for noise and we want to share that love with as many people as possible. I promise you’ll be intrigued in some way.”

Amplified Humans Festival takes place Friday, Aug. 12 and Saturday, Aug. 13 at the Yellow Cab Tavern, 700 E. Fourth Street in downtown Dayton. Twoday passes are $35 in advance, and individual day passes are $20 at the door. For tickets and more information, please visit

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Gary Spencer is a graduate of Miami University and works in the performing arts, and believes that music is the best. Contact him at

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