Library lets in the noise

"Checked Out" experimental music fest plugs in at the downtown branch

Checked Out, an experimental noise event, plugs in at the Central Library on Saturday, October 29. What ever happened to “Shhhhhh!”?
  • Checked Out, an experimental noise event, plugs in at the Central Library on Saturday, October 29. What ever happened to “Shhhhhh!”?

“No, this is not the sort of thing that you’d expect to hear in the library.” Laurie Bailey is the arts, music, and recreation librarian at the Central Library in East Village. She’s talking about “Checked Out,” the noise-fest that, on her go-ahead, Sam Lopez has been producing there for the past three years.

Stay Strange show flyer for Checked Out! fest at the Central Library

Stay Strange show flyer for Checked Out! fest at the Central Library

“Why do we do this? What Sam proposed was something different, and we have this space where we can do this sort of thing,” Bailey says. “Yes, I’ve listened in. Some things I’ve loved. But I have to admit, when I’m at home, this is not the sort of thing I listen to. I listen to the Cure. You love the music you listened to in high school, right? Nine Inch Nails.”

Lopez, 45, a mortgage broker by day (“I’m not a button-down tie kind of guy, but I’ve been a licensed loan officer for 15 years”), guitarist, and member of the San Diego noise-music collective Stay Strange, has been bringing noise to the public library since 2013.

“Three years ago I got an email from Trevor Jones. He was overseeing the Malcolm X Library and Performing Arts Center in Valencia Park. He asked, do you want to do an experimental music show?... That’s what opened the door to get this festival into the new library.” Lopez says Author & Punisher played that first year. “It blew out the library’s power. We had to scramble to get the show going again.”

This year’s fest includes interactive events in the library courtyard sponsored by the San Diego Art Institute. “Build-a-Beast,” Lopez says. “This will be a free monster-doll arts-and-crafts event with artwork by former San Diego artist Martin Ontiveros.” Music includes a return engagement by industrial doomer Author & Punisher, Planet B, Skrapez, and the sludge-surf rock of MF Redeemer.

“You’ve gotta be careful with what and who you present. We’re dealing with a large public audience of kids to seniors. We’re getting heavy and making noise in the downtown library, but we’ve had to change some band names,” e.g., MF Redeemer. “I’m not gonna have a GG Allin–esque thing there. The library trusts my judgment.”

Past Event

Author & Punisher and Planet B

  • Saturday, October 29, 2016, 7 p.m.
  • Central Library, 330 Park Boulevard, San Diego
  • Free

So far, there’s been no argument on that score from Bailey. “We’ve had mixed audiences. People rotate in and out, so we’d have 200 to 300 in the course of a day. We had 50 to 75 in the room at one point.” The tally included library patrons who had no idea what they were in for. “The good thing is that it’s free. If people don’t like it, they can walk out. Yes, some people liked it. And others said, ‘It’s not for me.’”

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