The 36-year-old virgin: Who spends three days subjecting themselves to the harshest and most disturbing sounds imaginable? And under the presumption that said noise is a valid artistic expression? Honestly? Sickos, that’s who. They dig the abuse. And the bands, the practitioners of this perversion, love to inflict it.

Face it: Noise annoys. So what’s wrong with me? I went into the 2008 NorCal NoiseFest a festival virgin and came out a leather-clad Betty. I suffered through all three days, and on the whole, it hurt so good.

My deflowering began on Friday at Luna’s Café & Juice Bar. This was an indie show: small, casual crowd. The bands were mostly quiet men who avoided eye contact, which probably all changes once they get you bound and gagged in their secret basements. Nothing builds confidence like a captive audience.

Local guitarist Ross Hammond played a wordless rendition of “Masters of War.” Mucky the Ducky, a Davis outfit, scattered an array of noisemakers across the stage and laced the mess with contact mics. Veteran noise dude Xome dedicated his set to the idea that wolves should be allowed to hunt Sarah Palin from helicopters. And that’s exactly what it sounded like: a wolf in a helicopter with a loaded gun.

Saturday at The Space was no place for skinny jeans. With the exception of a few goth girls, everyone looked like construction workers. They wore heavy boots and beards of lumberjacks and came equipped with power tools and tangles of cords that looked like black spaghetti. The theater smelled like sawdust and, later, when the musicians brought out the grinders and began grinding metal objects to make sparks fly, like a high-school metal shop, a stink of underarms and cannabis. They might have built something, except that everybody was more in a smash-and-destroy mood.

Uberkunst closed the show. This was their final performance. If you missed it, you missed a girl with electrical tape over her nipples, a blood sacrifice and a guy in a thong with a Piccolo Pete for a pee pee. In other words, your typical Uberkunst show.

Back at The Space on Sunday, I was worn out and thankful it was geezer night. Some of the sets were quiet enough to take my earplugs out. I’m always encouraged to see old people at shows. It reminds me that the slobbering maw of Lawrence Welk doesn’t necessarily await me in my senescence. It is also the best evidence that the NoiseFest is a true community. Kindergarten and advertising slice us up in our age-appropriate demographics, and it takes institutions like the NoiseFest to finally bring us back together again. (Jeff McCrory)