It’s the damnedest thing, This Is My Condition.
Just one guy, Craig Comstock, an unassuming, 5-foot-something who looks more like he might lay out your Web site than rock your ass superhuge-solo-style, a shiny-domed smiler banging out his are-you-shitting-me? racket on drums and a guitar he lays over the kit.
He beats out a riff with the sticks, smashes a pedal to capture it with the sampler jacked into the ax, and then plays it back, nodding. Then the riff blasts out again, then again, looped live, and Comstock’s galloping along after it, hammering at his drums, power-chording on top of his own power chords, the whole shebang rhythmic and wild, a danceable chaos, chunky and ferocious and kind of avant-garde but not so much that it isn’t fun.
Sometimes he slows down, takes the sticks and works the frets like a lap steel, goosing toothy jags of feedback.
The song crashes to a climax. He looks up, a little bleary, and mutters: “This is my condition.”
Then comes the next, the same kind of stuff but different enough to keep the kids jumping, songs that sound like rock itself being gutted open and pinned to a dissecting tray so we can see what surprises pulse inside it.
It’s not a one-man band. It’s a one-man army.
Comstock, the bass man in local indie pop outfit Blue Leaves, has been at his very, very solo act for two years, since a three-piece band he’d been writing for fell through. Inspired by turntablism — an early incarnation of Condition involved a drum machine and beat-juggling Stravinsky — and what he calls “noisy freak-out stuff,” he gradually developed the current setup’s loops-drums-guitar aesthetic.
“It limits me,” he says. “But I like finding musical solutions within those limitations.”
He’s musically restless and quite ambitious: two Condition shows happen this week, and also in the works are a CD, a performance this summer at Atlanta’s Freedumb festival and a string quartet. “It’s a little crazy,” he admits. “I just want to keep making music that’s new and inspires people.”
He pauses and takes a breath before he continues.
“Music that inspires people to make crazier music that will inspire me.”
All together now: That’s his condition.