Kiss 2 leads Wichita’s DIY scene back towards the heart of punk by giving back to community


Easton Thompson

Carson Schneider sings with an unleashed well of energy during their set at Wichita Oasis on January, 26. Carson is the lead singer for KISS 2.

In a small, church-like community center in Southeast Wichita, a new vision of local music is taking shape. Carson Schneider is hustling chairs from a storage room to the main room. No, not in the center — along the walls. The center is where the mosh pit is going to break out.

The mosh comes two hours later — moments after Schneider grabs the microphone. His band, hilariously named Kiss 2, unleashes waves of distorted, pummeling riffage into the crowd, and the audience goes nuts. Fans crush together and apart like some living mass of thrift shop hoodies and ripped jeans — wildly flailing around the room while miraculously leaving onlookers and the band itself completely unscathed. This is a crowd trained from years of DIY punk shows. Carson hopes that Wichita Oasis will provide the scene both a new home and a new purpose.

“Packing out a cool place is cool, but for us, it’s supposed to mean something,” Schneider said. “It’s supposed to have a message behind it. I’m thinking of bands like Fugazi and Bikini Kill that had their own ethics. Local shows that we book and we play, we want to make them benefit shows. That way, we’re giving back to the community and we’re not trying to put ourselves on this pedestal.”

After all, there’s no bouncer charging tickets for money at the door here. Instead, there’s a young woman who switches back and forth from jamming out to passing a vase labeled “donations” to generous audience members. The night’s proceeds are going straight to Warm Hearts, a non-profit dedicated to providing essential supplies to refugees on the Syrian border. By the end of the night, hundreds of dollars have piled up from donations and merch sales.

Schneider said he sees shows like this as a way to reclaim music as a visceral, personal force. At a benefit show, music’s not about the profits. It’s about people — both those who play and those who come to support the performance.

“It empowers people,” Schneider said. “The show isn’t just a stepping stone to something bigger. It’s in the moment.”

After a barrage of incredible, soul-shaking performances from Dreamist, Garden Club, Kiss 2, Sutphin, and Not Cops, the audience members mill about in a haze of soft, cheerful banter. It takes energy to thrash for four hours straight, after all.

But there’s one more order of business. The few scraps of trash disappear from the floor. The sound equipment gets tidied up. Carson grabs some chairs and heads back to storage room. Everyone helps clean in hopes that something like this can happen here again.

It’s true that the DIY scene has a strong presence in the community, with groups such as the Not Swell Collective and the This Ain’t Heaven Recording Concern providing ways for artists to record and release great music. However, they’re hoping that establishing a partnership with a venue such as the Oasis can anchor the scene in a more concrete fashion.

“The infrastructure is there,” Carson said. “We just need a space where we can congregate besides an illegal house show.”

Once that happens, there will be a place for bands to perform outside of the transactional bind of the commercial music business. Bands who want to support the community will have a place to do it. to Schneider, that’s at the heart of local music, and DIY bands the likes of Kiss 2 will continue to play for the sake of lifting Wichita up.

“This is where we’re from,” Schneider said. “This is who we are.”