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Words and Photos: Blank Hellscape / Weaponize Chomsky / Gruel at Kitten Castle

Blank Hellscape. Photo by Aaron Rhodes.
Date: June 21, 2022

Kitten Castle - Kansas City, MO

Kansas City's latest punk house was christened last night. The Kitten Castle's first evening in action (its predecessor, the Pussy Palace, held its final show a few months ago) featured a three-band bill headlined by Austin, Texas techno band Blank Hellscape. "Techno band," even in settings where techno is common, isn't a very common phrase (in my personal experience), but that was the easiest way of describing the trio's act. Crafted with drum machines, synths, various knobs, a reel-to-reel machine, a guitar, and vocals, the music of Blank Hellscape was often as unshakably rhythmic as it was noisy and coarse. For much of the set, Kansas Citians, nearly drowning in their own perspiration, grooved along to the madness and opened up a rare punk house basement dancefloor (not slam dancing -- the other kind).

The show was closed with a set from local duo Weaponize Chomsky. The two musicians split duties: one manning a bass guitar and occasional vocals (Judah Relly of Piss Kinks), the other in charge of main vocals and setting up the backing track. Their songs paired well with the floor-thumping creations of Blank Hellscape, emitting a similarly grimy energy, communicated via drum loops and distortion. Unique to Chomsky, however, was the occasional invoking of hip-hop cadences in the pair's shouted vocals. A demo tape is available at shows and may soon appear online I'm told.

The night was opened by one of Kansas City's newest hardcore punk bands Gruel. At their third show, the group (including Jasper from Foil, Judah and Tate from Piss Kinks, and Nate Treas) offered up a mean and peculiar type of DIY rock. Whether deliberately or by chance, the band's compositions (none longer than a minute or so) often included a couple sludgy parts of hardcore chugging, separated by sub-ten-second blasts of powerviolence (or faster hardcore punk; I didn't check for the exact BPM). It's funny in the way that this formula is almost the exact opposite of Spine's (mostly fast hardcore with one slow breakdown often ending a song). It makes sense considering the slightly idiosyncratic nature of the Piss Kinks sound. The dog bark vocals provided by Treas pushed this set over the top and his physical style of performance got the kids moving.

 [This show was booked and presented by Shuttlecock.]

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