Tonight marks the one-year anniversary of Tourniquet Noise, a series of performances at the Kitty Cat Klub showcasing both local and touring experimental and noise musicians. Before the big event, I caught up with some of the artists who have been involved over the course of Tourniquet's evolution.
Creator Kevin Cosgrove's initial conquest was to curate a month-long harsh noise music residency for every Monday in July of last year. This, in and of itself, was a huge accomplishment, considering the difficulty in convincing legitimate venues to book such artists. Cosgrove was elated at the opportunity to expose this vastly underground scene to the public. Looking back one entire year later, he is amazed and overwhelmingly grateful that Tourniquet Noise managed to grow from a one-month series into a regular monthly event.
"The Kitty Cat Klub has just been fabulous," Cosgrove says. "They're a classy bar and they just let me do extremely weird ... from their point of view, very different types of music that are very much a niche market." Things can indeed become quite interesting for folks who just happen to wander in on the third Monday of each month, not expecting to wind up at a noise show.
"While experimental music is challenging, I think that there's a way to bring it to more people in a way that's accessible," says co-presenter and co-host Dolores Dewberry, who has been the event's resident DJ from the very start and recently began to assist Cosgrove in curating the shows. She's also performed live — both at Tourniquet and at venues across the U.S. and Europe. "I find that it's been really wonderful to get feedback from people who are not in the noise scene like, 'Hey, I just stopped in for a drink and decided to stay because this is really interesting,'" she continues.
Initially, Cosgrove was eager to unite artists who had been in the scene for years with emerging performers. He enjoys the juxtaposition of what he calls "old-school" noise artists alongside somewhat established current performers and total beginners. He even considers musicians who don't typically perform this type of music, but have a side project they're interested in trying out.
Sam Stoxen — who performs under the moniker Baculum — was among those who played the very first Tourniquet. He also operates Phage Tapes, a label that has put out over 200 releases since its inception in 2007(many noise musicians tend to stick to cassette format when releasing material). Stoxen is just as pleased by the success of the event as all those who were initially involved: "I was very impressed that people came to the shows in the dead of winter," he says. "There were some horribly cold days and people still came out. That shows that there is still some love for noise out there." Cosgrove reveals that Baculum will be returning to Tourniquet this coming September for a special collaborative set with Gnawed.
We may hear some of these tapes tonight, during a special all-cassette DJ set from Dewberry who will be joined by Thomas Boettner of Straight Panic. "I've got a few local selections I threw in there, a lot of newer noise tapes I picked up recently, and some stuff that's close and personal favorites," he says. Though a cassette-based DJ set may seem totally bizarre, Cosgrove has a simple explanation. "Noise people often put out their releases on cassette," he says. This should be really interesting to witness, considering what Dewberry then shares with me: "My tape deck pooped out this week, so I'm using my old Walkman from 1987," she says, giggling mischieviously. "We're keepin' it real here."
Boettner began Straight Panic about a year ago, after ending his decade-long project called fire island, AK— a self-described "queer-noise assault unit." The classically trained cellist has only lived in Minneapolis for two years, and finds the noise music scene here refreshing. "I moved here from Anchorage, Alaska," he says. "The scene there is lots of metal and hardcore-inspired metal ... and bluegrass [laughs]. There's some interesting stuff going on up there, but it's just such a small community."
"Our scene here is good," he continues. "We might be a little bit out of the way, and maybe we don't pull in as many of the touring acts as we'd like to get, but the scene here is solid and the community is really stand-up. It's definitely not shrinking, that's for sure."
Another group performing this evening is Black/Death/War metal duo NON-, who will be joined by Tourniquet veteran Anthony Amelang. "This will be my first live collaboration with a metal band," he says. "I am very excited." Amelang is part of the newer generation of noise musicians that Cosgrove is so pleased to have helped initiate into the scene. Dewberry is also a big fan: "He's dynamite," she says of Amelang. "Every time I see him he gets better."
It'll be NON-'s first time playing Tourniquet. Two of the other acts on the bill are brand-new additions as well — Wirehouse, the power-electronics project of James Allen Graham (the man behind Timmy the Tapeworm) and the newly formed trio CSO / Harm, which features members of Burning, Camden and Wince. CSO / Harm was created by special request for an Art-A-Whirl event this year, and could be described as the most orgasmic mash-up of industrial, techno, and noise music that has ever been created.
Cosgrove has high hopes for the future of this event, and has already begun putting thought into the next several installments. "I don't see any end in sight," he says, and shares that in August there will be a special 2-hour-plus set from internationally known multi-instrumentalist/composer Milo Fine, who Cosgrove says has a special affinity for pre-jazz experimental and noise music. "He plays noise music kind of without knowing anything about it," Cosgrove says of Fine, who has been performing for more than four decades. "He does it naturally, because that's just one direction that music can go in."
Cosgrove will also continue to share his duties with other musicians, including Seth Ryan of Burning and CSO / Harm, who will have curation rights this October. And he'll still be making his own brand of experimental noise music under the name Transitional Species. Preferring mostly to use found objects as instruments, tonight he'll be introducing a cello into the mix, and Dewberry will be assisting in his performance. For noise music fans like myself, it's incredibly interesting to see which performers my own favorite musicians will choose for their specially curated nights.
Most musicians agree this series has been instrumental in reinvigorating a scene that had been dormant for a bit too long, probably due to lack of venue space and losing underground West Bank venue the Medusa. As Stoxen put it, "I think it has done a great job invigorating the almost deceased noise community and given new projects a forum to perform."
Dewberry agrees. "It sounds so funny to talk about it being great for the community and everybody loving it, and making everyone happy, because it sounds like we're talking about a Grateful Dead show!" she exclaims. "I'm thrilled that the scene is still vibrant, and I know in out last interview we talked about how the scene went through not a decline exactly, but it quieted down for a while. Now it just feels like it's going really strong, and people really do make an effort to come. I just think it's so great. It's nice to just get a bunch of like-minded miscreants together."
For those with an open mind who are looking to try something new, the Kitty Cat Klub is definitely the place to be tonight — and every third Friday of the month, for that matter.
Tourniquet Noise 1 Year Anniversary featuring Dolores Dewberry, Transitional Species, NON- (joined by Anthony Amelang), Wirehouse, CSO / Harm, and Straight Panic. Begins at 9 .m., 21+, free