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Best of the Horrible 

Five reasons to check out Now That's Class' annual noisefest

For noise aficionados, Horriblefest is more than just an underground music festival — it's almost a way of life. The four-day celebration returns to Now That's Class this week for its seventh outing. And it's not just Cleveland fans of punk, garage, and assorted other clatter that come to have their senses assaulted by more than two dozen bands: More and more people from all over the world are making the pilgrimage to the near-West Side club every year.

This year's lineup — which will play the club's stage as well as its parking lot and a wonderful Lakewood bowling alley, starting on Thursday — includes bands from Buffalo (Brown Sugar), Chicago (Claw Toe), Columbus (Cheater Slicks), Detroit (Easy Action), New Orleans (Mr. Quintron and Miss Pussycat), New York City (Liquor Store), Philadelphia (Watery Love), and, of course, Cleveland (Plain Dealers, Puffy Areolas, and Obnox, among others).

Fighting the urge to join in the spirit of the fest, we offer five not-so-horrible things some notable bands at this year's Horriblefest have done over the years.

Underground comic book great Daniel Clowes drew the cover of an early Cheater Slicks album. The garage-punk trio, originally from Boston, tapped Clowes — best known for Ghost World, which was made into a 2001 movie that introduced the indie world to Scarlett Johansson — for the cover of its second LP, 1991's Destination Lonely. It's typical Clowes, fraught with sweaty, sexual frustration — a perfect complement to the band's horned-up blasts of bluesy punk.

The Hookers were founded by a guy who used to play drums in Nashville Pussy. Adam Neal was in Kentucky cowpunk pioneers Nine Pound Hammer with Blaine Cartwright. When Cartwright left to form Nashville Pussy with his wife, Neal went with him. At the same time, Neal formed his own band, the Hookers, who play a scuzzier version of the hardcore punk that's usually kicking around Nashville Pussy's songs. Neal left Nashville Pussy before their buzz started.

Even though they've burned through 20 members in five years, LiveFastDie haven't missed a beat.Since 2007, these Stooges disciples have released a series of hard-to-find CDs, seven inches, and split singles on various labels. They've broken up a couple of times. And it seems like half of their native New Hampshire has played with them at one time or another. Through it all, songs like "Camero Shit the Bed" and "Fat Guy With an iPod" sound remarkably consistent.

Quintron, of Mr. Quintron and Miss Pussycat, invented the Drum Buddy. The music made by this performance-art duo falls somewhere between dance clubs and outer space. Guiding most of it is Quintron's light-activated invention, which is kinda like a percussion-minded theremin (Laurie Anderson and Wilco's Nels Cline are fans). The New Orleans Museum of Art even exhibited a few of them in 2010. Quintron's latest invention is a synthesizer played by the weather.

SQRM will headline a special afternoon show that includes balls, pins, and cues. The Massachusetts hardcore band tops a six-group bill at Mahall's Twenty Lanes at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Your $10 admission includes as much bowling and pool as you can cram into four hours. If that isn't enough incentive to get out before the sun goes down, SQRM's elusive singer, who now lives in California, is coming to town especially for this gig.

More by Michael Gallucci

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