Three bands, all Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame inductees of recent vintage, and of the rare talent undamaged by the ravages of time. Despite necessary reductions in range, last night's triple bill proved that there's at least three acts that can still kick it after three decades or more. Of the three, Heart might as well have stepped out of a time warp. While Ann Wilson said "times have changed," one would never know it from her band's performance. They might as well have come straight from recording "These Dreams" -- although, I'm pretty certain the original wasn't played with mandolin on lead as it was at Starlight, as nice a touch as it was.Read the complete review at the Pitch. Published on 8/16/116
Mills Record Co. feels like a Westport institution, even though the shop first opened next to Dave’s Stagecoach in May 2013. Less than a year and a half later, the shop expanded into a former vape store next door, doubling its size. Now, a couple of months after its third anniversary, Mills has moved into a much bigger space, around the corner at 4045 Broadway, the former home of Westport on Broadway Antiques.Read the complete piece, "As Mills Record Co. moves into a new Westport space, it makes room for showcasing local talent live" at the Pitch. Published on 7/19/126
Classic Rock Summer is a series wherein we attempt to see as many classic-rock concerts coming through the Kansas City area as possible. From May through September, we will immerse ourselves in the music of our parents, from yacht rock to oldies to hair metal, you’ll find us there. Journey and the Doobie Brothers Sprint Center Saturday, May 28 Saturday night of Memorial Day weekend: where else would you be but seeing Journey and belting your heart out? For realsies, kids -- if you were wondering why mom and dad weren't answering their phone, they were probably in khaki shorts and drinking Miller Lite with several thousand of their peer group. Read the entire review at the Pitch, published 5/29/16
The third and final night of 2015's Lawrence Field Day Fest kicked off hard. It was pushed back half an hour, but Eyes of Iolite wasted no time in getting things ripping. "The Thing" kicked it off, and for the rest of their set, it was fuzzed-out blast after blast. Sludge? Doom? Whatever you want to call it, this trio knows how to deliver metal. It's so fucking heavy, with a volume and low end that makes it hard to even breathe. There's no moshing to this: just let the band lead the assault. [gallery ids="18498,18499,18500"] My friend and former roommate has been playing drums for the People's Punk Band for months now, and he's been talking them up as a band I'd love. I tend to worry about hyperbole such as that, because it's usually unwarranted , but in this case, he was dead right. Big, chunky riffs, and that weird harmonic vocal thing that Turbonegro or Death By Stereo does? Sold. Fucking sold. It's punk 'n' roll, and my only complaint was carrying around a goddamn camera bag, because this is the sort music to which you throw yourself around with wild abandon. Doing that with a grand of electronic equipment is dumb -- although, in this case, tempting. [gallery ids="18512,18511,18510,18509,18508,18507"] It's basically what happened halfway into the Federation of Horsepower's set. The rock 'n' roll train that this five-piece rides is hard to avoid becoming a passenger on, and when they do something like cover Cocknoose's "All Jacked Up," what the hell am I supposed to do? Not scream along like a maniac? Obviously not. This is as near as I get to attending church, so I better testify while the service is going on. Exaggeration aside, they've been a favorite for over a decade now, and any chance to see them rock out in my town is a welcome one. That goes doubly true for a show like last night's, where in addition to 100% rock 'n' roll power, frontman Gregg Todt wandered outside and across the street with his wireless pickup, playing guitar in the middle of a goddamn crosswalk. That, my friends, is showmanship. [gallery ids="18501,18502,18503,18504,18505,18506"] I saw Gnarly Davidson, but only about a song or two. It was, as to be expected, very loud, the band set up on the floor and blazing through their setlist. Every show from these three makes me wonder whether or not they have to chug water beforeheand, because thet have to be getting some sort of workout from their performances. They put their fucking all into their music. Psychic Heat proceeded to rock out the Jackpot afterward. It's odd, because the band plays out so often, I don't feel the need to see them as much as I have the opportunity to do so. That means that every set I catch is light years ahead of the one previous. Saturday night's performance was frighteningly tight garage psychedelia, and their crowd was all head-shaking, hip-moving enthusiasm. Bonus: Kliph Scurlock was filling in on drums, absolutely murdering the kit, and comedian Barry Crimmins (star of the new Bobcat Goldthwait doc, Call Me Lucky) was right up front. It was amazing, and the perfect end to three days of rock insanity. [gallery ids="18513,18514,18515,18516,18517"]
My first band of the second night was a muscular rock 'n' roll quartet. It looks like I'm going for a theme, huh? Actually, Kansas City's Admiral of the Red would pair nicely with the Vedettes. The KC act definitely leans more toward modern rock in their sound, but definitely knows how to lock in to more than just shredding and screaming. There's a punk verve and melodic hook to what they do, and while it's not earth-shattering in terms of novelty, it's certainly worth watching. [gallery ids="18475,18474,18473"] Having seen the Josh Berwanger Band probably more than any other active local band, I think I know what's what. The lineup Friday night is the one I really wish would be the "official" one. I know Heidi Gluck has her own solo career, but goddamn if Berwanger isn't better with her guitar and vocals providing counterpart and harmonies. Even something like "Enemies," where the vocal component is pretty simple, just results in much more going on. The harmonies are richer, the guitars are fuller, and it's nigh-impossible not to start singing along. A bonus of last night's set was the band being a little more rough and tumble in their playing. It was more garage, less stadium, and it made me happy to see the foursome get a little scrappy. Downside to their set: the crowd grew during it, but it was due to people wandering in from the free Split Lip Rayfield show down the street. As soon as it ended, the club FILLED, but with loud assholes ignoring the band onstage. Upside: "Mary" was renamed "Theresa" for the first verse, and the band won over 20 drunk kids instantly. [gallery ids="18476,18477,18478,18479,18480,18481"] Afterward, I attempted to see David Hasselhoff on Acid at the Taproom, but things were nearly an hour behind, so it was more just chatting with folks, using the bathroom, and getting down to the Replay for Sister Rat. The Lawrence trio has been playing a lot more shows in recent months, and it's really helped. The doom punks have always been a favorite of mine, but the stage presence they've gained leads to shows which are a lot less nerve-wracking in terms of tension. They look like they're enjoying themselves now, rather than white-knuckling it through their set. The songs are tighter, and I love watching these brash women fucking kick ass. Songs like "Revolutions" and "Valhalla" are still amazing, but other songs manage to grab people who aren't already fans, and that's fucking rad to watch. "It's Okay" has gone from a feedback-soaked mess to a screaming declaration of hope. Sister Rat may now be the only band which has successfully married doom and pop-punk, and watching them pull it off every time brings me a joy I can't put into words. [gallery ids="18493,18492,18491,18490,18489,18488"] KCMO's Sedlec Ossuary ended my night on a fully-destructive note. The death metal act drew a crowd of their own who head-banged the ever-loving fuck out of the Replay. The bar hasn't seen a band like this in some time, and it needed it. The energy level was through the roof. Double kicks, breakdowns, and pummeling bass combined with melodic riffing to just destroy. Those vocals, too: raspy screams that switched to guttural roars on a dime. The only downside is that stuffing a band with two guitarists and a full metal drum kit onto that little Replay stage meant there wasn't a lot of room for the band to move. Maybe next time I see them, I can catch them on a stage where they have room to strut. [gallery ids="18487,18486,18485,18484,18483,18482"]
Night one of the 2015 Lawrence Field Day Fest was a bit lighter than I would've liked, but plans to see more bands were sidetracked by attending a screening of the documentary, The Damned: Don't You Wish That We Were Dead, followed by a performance from Mike Watt and the Missing Men. I'd intended to skip Watt's performance, but then he played a dozen Clash songs and the Minutemen's "Bob Dylan Wrote Protest Songs," and next thing you know, I'm running terribly behind. That said, I did get to see three great bands, and I'm happy I was able to see them. I started the night with newly-minted Lawrence quartet, the Vedettes. Equal parts blues, mod, and soul, the Vedettes are absolutely devastating. They remind me of late '60s / early '70s rock 'n' roll, but specifically the post-Blue Cheer stuff that's being referred to these days as heavy psych or bonehead crushers. The bass on the Vedettes' songs emphasizes the groove, and it's just dirty. Something about all of this makes me want to get in a car and drive very, very fast -- preferably to get somewhere I might have enthusiastic sex. Like I said: DIRTY. [gallery ids="18466,18467,18468"] The Ovaries-eez are the absolute exact opposite. They're quiet, beautiful folk, with harmonies for days. Just the most dreamy sort of music, very well-suited for a hot, muggy summer weeknight. The group's vocal dynamics are the highlight, here, demonstrating a kind of singing that hearkens all the way back to ... forever ago, making the Ovaries-eez a band completely timeless. [gallery ids="18460,18461,18462"] The Sugar Britches (or at least 3/4 of them) complimented the Ovaries-eez nicely. They were more upbeat, certainly more profane, but continued the harmonies. Their bluegrass stylings have been getting them gigs all over town lately, and it's easy to see why: witty, catchy numbers loaded with prfanity will always go down nicely in these parts. They're a little bigger than the Ovaries-eez, in terms of sound, but the paring still worked out wonderfully. It's great to see two bands of women making music, playing back-to-back. Empowering and entertaining pairings like this make Field Day Fest more than another bunch of angry dude bands playing one after the other, and it's so appreciated. [gallery ids="18463,18465,18464"] More information about Lawrence Field Day Fest can be found here.
Earl Sweatshirt [gallery ids="18337,18338,18339,18340,18341,18342,18343,18344"] Vince Staples [gallery ids="18345,18346,18347,18348,18349"] Remy Banks [gallery ids="18352,18351,18350"]
RBF/LTJ The Granada, Lawrence Friday, January 16 Something about pairing the twin titans of ska-punk brought out every 30-something in Lawrence Friday night. Also, their kids. Hell, even my kid was there with his roommate. It seemed like the in place to be. And why not, really? While it's a legitimate argument that neither Less Than Jake nor Reel Big Fish have put out a good album in the last decade, the energy and fun of their live shows is undeniable. It's weird, because I've seen Less Than Jake so many times at this point that I'm never quite certain as to which show I'm remembering. Given that the band's had a pretty steady lineup as of late, with a setlist that's always sure to include "Look What Happened" and "Automatic," it's basically like the ska version of those REO Speedwagon, Boston, or Foreigner shows that played every summer for most of my childhood. It's great that they're still releasing new material, but I basically just want to hear "Riding the Storm Out" or "More Than A Feeling." But nostalgia aside, everybody's voices are holding up, they don't look wrinkly and sad while jumping around on stage, and the crowd's got enough money to buy merch. I think we all win. [gallery ids="18253,18252,18251,18250,18249,18248,18247,18246,18245"] Jesus Christ, Reel Big Fish. The Granada was sweaty and packed by the halfway point of their set. It was a perfect example that, despite the fact that Aaron Barrett is the only original member, the band's managed to remain a fantastic live act. You'd think that the loss of Dan Regan and Scott Klopfenstein would've rendered the band a pale imitation of itself, but Reel Big Fish remains a live act of impressive energy. Hell, they rocked a cover of "Monkey Man" which managed to be of quality, despite being a cover of Amy Winehouse covering the Specials covering Toots & the Maytals. I might've been drunk as shit by the halfway point of their set, but I could've watched them all night. [gallery ids="18242,18244,18241,18243,18240,18239"] Authority Zero kicked everything off. They've been around for years, always seeming to glom onto the opening slot for a third-wave ska act making the rounds. They're the amalgamation of every heavy pop-punk band that ever had a ska song (see also: Wank, Schleprock), and while energetic, completely failed to grab my interest. Authority Zero gives their all on stage, for sure, with a frontman who's constantly in motion, but they're that thing that kills me: talented, but utterly unremarkable. Not a single song turned me off, but neither was there anything which had me writing down lyrics to track it down afterward. [gallery ids="18238,18234,18236,18237,18235,18233"] Fun fucking times, people. Wallowing in nostalgia might be sad at times, but sometimes it can be a glorious celebration of shit that's fun and exciting. It's always a pleasant thing to discover that sometimes, you can revisit your youth, and thank god -- it's actually something worth going back to.
More shows need to be like this: all ages, over by 9:00pm, and cheap. I would go to each and every matinee rock show, schedule allowing. There's something wonderful about getting off work, eating dinner, and then seeing a couple of bands, and getting home in time to knock out a couple chapters in that book you're reading. Yes, I know this makes me old and lame, but yesterday evening's show at the Replay Lounge was fricking great. In addition to the situational things, it had that rarest of elements these days, wherein the bands didn't all sound alike. Don't get me wrong: I love a standard punk bill. However, opening the show was Lawrence's Westerners, who start out their sets sounding kind of funky, kind of jammy. It gets a few raised eyebrows on an "all-ages punk show" kind of bill, obviously, but the way this band gets progressively weirder as their set progresses never ceases to amaze. The couple of times I've seen them, Westerners kind of turn me off with the first few songs, but as they add in dischordant elements in the instrumentation, jamming out with distortion and so on, while rocking dual harmonies, I tend to watch in absolute fascination. They're exactly the sort of band that is essentially a totally different act at the end of their set, with me sitting there going, "Why can't they be like that with every song?" Greys are from Canada, and all I knew about them was that Black On Black had hooked them up with a couple area shows while they're on tour supporting their new album, If Anything. They played 25 minutes, and at the end, I bought their album. They're tightly-wound rock 'n' roll that walks a line with Hot Snakes on one side, and Nirvana on the other. The Nirvana comparison is due mainly to their bass player, who rocks Krist Novaselic lines left and right. He's also really fucking tall. It was at the end of their first song that I first thought, "Maybe I should buy their album." At the end of their second cut, it was "I'm buying their album." The trio is just faster than hell, and they didn't stop at all between song. There was no time to clap, because as one song ended, the next one started almost immediately. The punky garage rock 'n' roll is loud and heavy, rather than the usual tinniness most garage acts deal in. My face was flat-out melted, is what I'm trying to say here. Lawrence's Black On Black is the punkest band currently working. All-ages matinee show? Check. Posting all of their music for free download? Check. Refusing to follow sonic conventions? Check. No, seriously, they're a punk band in terms of ethos and practices, but don't hew to the standard "this is what a punk band sounds like" bullshit that so many other bands feel the need to do. They're heavy, they fucking rocking, and you can -- if so inclined -- pogo or mosh yourself stupid to their songs, but there's more to them than three chords and a snpotty attitude. Wade Kelly's voice can be melodic or barking, and the way he presents himself onstage reminds of no-one so much as Danko Jones: just pure self-assuredness, up there knowing that this band is fully-qualified to rock asses. Everyone on stage has that bearing, really. It's great to see a band that -- even playing to a couple dozen people at 8:30 on a Monday -- acted like the places was packed to the gills on a Saturday. [gallery ids="17837,17838,17839,17840,17841,17842,17843,17844,17845"]
Seattle's Helms Alee just released their third full-length, Sleepwalking Sailors. It's their first for label Sargent House after two LPs on Hydra Head. It's a massive piece of work, both in terms of sound and emotional impact. The trio is currently on tour, opening for labelmates Russian Circles. That tour (also featuring the ever-brutal KEN Mode) hits the recordBar in Kansas City on Saturday, March 15. We spoke with Helms Alee guitarist Ben Verellen a while back about the new album and tour. You've got a label switch with this new album, Sleepwalking Sailors – how did it come about? Hydra Head, essentially – they're not done, but they're done putting out new records. So, that was kind of a big bummer. We were planning on releasing a third Helms Alee record, and they just figured out they needed to stop doing what they were doing and roll things back. It kind of put us in a spot where we had to figure out what we were going to do with these – we had 20 new songs all ready to go. So, we finally decided that we were going to do a Kickstarter campaign and try and release the thing ourselves. So, we did that. Only after we recorded the record did it fall into the hands of Cathy [Pellow] from Sargent House via Chris Common, the guy who recorded the record, who was living at her house. I don't know exactly how she stumbled onto it, but she called up. How does moving to Sargent House affect how the Kickstarter works? I know you guys were basically treating it like a pre-order. We kind of realized that this was a lot of work that we wouldn't have to do. It was all pretty exciting. It's all been pretty good working with Sargent House. Sargent House has been really flexible about all of this. It's going to work out great because they're helping us put together all the reward packages to get everybody taken care of who helped chip in. It's basically going to work as if we did release it ourselves and everybody's going to receive their records. Where did you record? Here in Seattle, at a couple of different studios. At a place called Litho, and at a place called Red Room. Was the recording process less stressful, thanks to having the Kickstarter money? We've been pretty lucky in the past. Hydra Head was able to give us a little money to record. Never a lot, but it wasn't like we were pooling band money from shows, scraping into our bank accounts – that kind of thing – but the Kickstarter campaign was a big success, I would say. You guys raised $2000 more than you were asking for. Yeah! It was incredible. It meant that we could afford to record to tape now. It's something we really wanted to do. It's a little more expensive. It also meant that we got to work at some studios that we really liked. So, it felt like – it wasn't like we went and kicked in the studio for two and a half months or anything like that! But, we had a lot of material to record, but we felt like we had enough time to do it all. [embed]https://soundcloud.com/sargent-house/helms-alee-tumescence[/embed] And, to promote the record, you're going out with Russian Circles, which is a really great pairing. How did that tour get set up? Actually, before that record was even going to be put out on Sargent House, when we finished it, we figured, “Let's send it out to a bunch of our buddy bands.” And, we've known those guys for some time and we've done some touring with them in the past, so we just sent them the record and told them what we were doing. When we started talking with Sargent House, Russian Circles were also with those guys, so they were just like, “This is obvious. We'll put out the record and that tour will happen then: it's perfect.” Going back to the recording process: were you guys able to record all 20 songs? Yes, and there are going to be some surrounding releases. There's a split that came out on Brutal Panda with a group called Ladder Devils, so one song ended up there. We did another split with a band from town called Tacos, and that came out. I don't think I'm allowed to talk about the other split – it's not been announced, so I should keep my lid shut. It's more of a split 12-inch, with a band that's more well-known, and a band that we've toured with and really really like, so that one's most exciting, but I won't say anymore than that. Helms Alee is on tour through Thursday, March 20. You can find tour dates and information at their Facebook page.