"The impetus [for this show] was Rat Bastard from Laundry Room Squelchers asking me to help him set up a show in Kansas City," Comstock says. "Rat Bastard has organized the International Noise Conference in Miami for the past three years."
This Is My Condition performed at the most recent Miami event, and Comstock was impressed by the format of a large number of bands playing short sets.
"I decided to contact some folks I know and put on a similar event in Kansas City," Comstock says. "I think the popularity of noise is primarily as a live performance phenomenon rather than a recorded one."
The Midwest Sonic Bivouac features musicians from around the nation, topping out at 13 bands. There may be some shifting around at the last minute, but here's a guide to some of the key acts.
The Laundry Room Squelchers are Miami's premier sonic experimentalists. Members of the band have performed with Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and rock-anthem writer Andrew W.K. The New York Press called one performance "little more than a sustained roar ... [that] all crashed into a splay-legged and unkempt-hair pile in the middle of the floor." The Squelchers' brand of noisy performance sound-fucking should prove to be the hot draw at the Bivouac.
Chicago acts America's Meth Problem, Brotman and Short, and Spunky Toofers will represent their city with criminally abrasive sounds that border on the absurd but also contain traces of carefully crafted songwriting.
"The improvisatory nature of Korean shamanistic rituals included improvisatory singing, dancing and chanting," says Daniel Park of Spunky Toofers. "In a sense, I relate the circuit-bent instrument [an instrument short-circuited to produce unusual sounds] to a modern shaman's drum a tool to tap into the spirit world."
America's Meth Problem further explores circuit-bending musical ideas while conveying politically charged messages. The band's Ralph Barton, aka Bubblegum Shitface, explains by e-mail from Moscow the relevance of noise and how musicians interpret world culture.
"Noise is the sound of now," Barton says. "There are good acts and bad acts, but they are all holding the same mirror up to the same society."
Closer to home, Columbia, Missouri's UMBROS looks to make an impact with its guitar-and-bass ambience.
The remaining performers on the bill hail from Lawrence and Kansas City.
One act of note, Damaged Orchestra Beta, features Mark Hurst of Lawrence. His musical excursions occasionally feature as many as six musicians expounding upon a general idea that he will initiate. At the Bivouac, he plans to perform video-game-inspired solo soundscapes.
"I only perform Beta live using full Nintendo hardware," Hurst says. "It works better as a performance than recorded."
Lately, Hurst has attempted various sound derivations based on the original version of the Nintendo game Mega Man. His experiments have led him to an ancient piece of gaming hardware called the Nintendo U-Force, which functions as a makeshift theremin. Hurst also programs beats using the Super Nintendo game Mario Paint. The use of loopy, rhythmic swells will likely make for a must-see performance.
Fascist Masochist (formerly I Don't Do Gentlemen) and Alucard lead the faction of Kansas City's riotous noise run-amoks and will be joined by several other up-and-coming musicians from KC's growing subculture. According to Comstock, small scenes like this one are what keep the genre growing.
"What I am learning is that most [cities] have a small little community of people who love experimental audio art," he says. "It just takes some people sticking their necks out by starting a record label or going on tour out of town to give a place some attention."