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On January 16, 1999, The Joysticks Battle the Scan Feed to Your Skull (then, The Joysticks Battle the Clip-On Expressway to Your Skull) took part in the harsh noise competition, “Ohio VS. PA Noise Brawl”. This battle featured the Beasts of the East: Bob Marinelli, Asian Prison Labor Semiconductor Perversion Task Force (a.k.a. Oregone Cinema), and of course, The Joysticks competing against the Best of the West: Lockweld, Noumena, and Season of Discontent. The basis of the contest was three randomly selected audience members would vote on the “harshness” of each noise maker(s), and the state with the highest score wins the brawl. I must say before I get into the details of the show that The Joysticks had unfair voting as result of a few separate reasons. A) The Joysticks played first, and the judges seemed reluctant to give away extremely high scores that early. B) Many of the later judges didn’t have a chance to see The Joysticks performance and their score. Therefore, they had no background on the average score and high scores. C) By the end of the show, scores seemed to be based overall performance whereas The Joysticks’ judging was based solely on harshness. D) The soundguy kept turning down the sound when The Joysticks reached a peak. OK, now onto the show. The Joysticks Battle the Clip-On Expressway to Your Skull impressed the crowd even before they started playing with their always intriguing stage setup that included chemical formula posters. They had many non-used, non-functional, electronics left over from The Talent Show Ordeal that were on stage and ready to be destroyed. The Joysticks used these televisions, radios, asteroids, answering machines, computers, and other unidentified objects to experiment, deconstruct, and accidentally harm certain audience members during their 20 minute noise production session. Gregg, Joe, and Richard aren’t typically known for a harsh sound, but they were dedicated to getting the state of Pennsylvania a win and revised their noise techniques for this show. They opened the performance by playing an “Eye of the Tiger” MIDI File while the Millvale Industrial Theater owner, Manny Theiner, read, “And, in this corner, weighing in at a combined 673.0183944 kilograms, from the South Hills.... TH3 J0Y5T1CK5!” The Joysticks ran on the stage from the crowd area. Joe immediately got behind his electronic workstation, Gregg threw a telephone off the front of the stage, and Richard began kicking the broken machinery that was laid out strategically on the stage. After the initial destruction, they took hold of the working equipment and created a blanket of harsh sound. Richard, with hold of his guitar, ran off the front of the stage shoving his guitar in the faces of the first row audience members (judges). Gregg began throwing the asteroids (many of which were returned by audience members) at the crowd as Richard was in the crowd smashing radios off the surface. During mid-performance, Joe lit off the pyrotechnics system hooked up to the home-modified Deltadeath 028.48HJ93L2 Keyboard, and the crowd was mesmerized when the massive fireworks display began. Richard took a 25+ pound computer, leaped off the stage, and hurled the enormous object beneath him while in the air. The result was audience members getting computer shrapnel projected at them, and many people jumped out of their seats in order to escape injury. Richard then scorched his hand after he attempted to placed a lit tank firework inside the mangled computer. Gregg smashed a television screen after he struck it numerous times with its own antenna. The entire set was chaos filled with sound and destruction. It was not safe to be in the Millvale Industrial Theater while The Joysticks were playing. Their amazing show was rewarded with a disappointing 11 out of 15, which was one of the lower scores of the evening. They cleaned up the aftermath of their performance, while many audience members came up and told them that they deserved to win. People said they were amazed, and they believed The Joysticks were terribly ripped off with their score of 11. A. Hibbs, from the Ohio-based improvisational guitar duo Noumena, summed it up best, “That was spastic.”  

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