Photos: Agent Orange / The Architects / Stiff Middle Fingers at the Bottleneck

agent orange logoFriday, October 24, California surf-punks Agent Orange played the Bottleneck in Lawrence, Kansas. It was their first appearance around here since a wintery show at the Jackpot four or five years back, and this time, the crowd was much larger. Agent Orange was touring with Kansas City's the Architects, who brought their punk rock 'n' roll to the stage in spades. Openers Stiff Middle Fingers kicked things off with a high-energy set of old-school punk rock which I'm sure made the Agent Orange guys feel right at home. We've galleries of all three acts after the jump. Agent Orange [gallery ids="18060,18061,18062,18063,18064,18065"] The Architects [gallery ids="18054,18055,18056,18057,18058,18059"] Stiff Middle Fingers [gallery ids="18048,18049,18050,18051,18052,18053"]

Black On Black / Greys / Westerners at the Replay Lounge

Black On BlackMore 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"]

High on Fire / Kvelertak / Windhand at the Granada

high on fire granada header In what seems to be unanimous agreement from all of the friends who were at Friday night's show with me, High on Fire was one of the loudest fucking concerts most of us have ever seen. Given that this is a crowd of musicians, mostly, that's not a small thing about which to quibble. For as loud as it was, and as much of a concrete box the Granada is, it sounded amazing. Every band was crystal clear, yet ear-splittingly loud. Indeed, though: High on Fire blew some hair back at the Granada. It's always wonderful when a an act's not touring in support of a new album. I mean, yes -- High on Fire released the two live EPs, Spitting Fire volumes 1 and 2, earlier this year, but it's not like they had an album of all-new tunes to flog. This meant they were able to play whatever, and it made for a set full of blazing rock 'n' roll. Setlist Fertile Green Razor Hoof Fury Whip Madness of an Architect Cometh Down Hessian Eyes and Teeth Fireface Rumors of War Baghdad Serums of Liao Slave the Hive Snakes for the Divine [gallery ids="17348,17349,17350,17351,17352,17353"] This show was the third visit for Norway's Kvelertak in the past year, and I can't quite figure out if they live up to the hype to which I've been subjected. The group's three-guitar attack presents a wall of sound, and their drummer knocks out death metal blast beats. Kvelertak have some serious punk rock fury going on, but halfway through their set, I kept getting confused, because it seemed like the rhythm section and singer were one band, while the guitarists were another, and they never quite figured out a way to marry them properly. [gallery ids="17354,17355,17356,17357,17358,17359"] However, Richmond's Windhand completely lived up to the hype. Obviously, I'm a big fan of their latest, Soma, but live, they're just astonishing. When they kicked on their amps and started ther wall of sound for their first song, I was knocked back, literally moved back a couple steps by pure sonic shock. Watching the band get into the groove of their songs was a serious pleasure, and it was a shame to only get to listen for half an hour. Seriously, though -- what a half hour. [gallery ids="17361,17362,17363,17364,17365,17360"]

AFI / Touche Amore / Coming at the Granada

Just discovered that I'd not uploaded pictures from last Thursday's AFI show at the Granada. It was the East Bay band's first tour in over three years, and anticipation was high. Goth kids, hardcore kids, rockers ... it was a lot of people in very dark clothes, and wearing an awful lot of makeup, lace, and mesh. Super-great show -- Touche Amore and Coming kicked things off really well. Touche Amore is always always always worth checking out live (first time I've been used as a stepping stone in the photo pit, too), and Coming was a pleasant surprise -- sort of like vintage AmRep stuff mixed with Deathwish-style hardcore. Go check it out -- the tour continues through November 2. Dates can be found at Punknews. [gallery ids="17113,17114,17115,17116,17117,17118,17119,17120,17121,17122,17123,17124"]

Hank III at the Granada

hank iii header Country punk and all-around shitkicker Hank III played the Granada in Lawrence last night, and for a Tuesday night, the venue was crammed full of folks ready to get rowdy. It's an interesting mix -- hippies, dudes, good ol' boys, rockers, metalheads, and the occasional older couple seeing him because of his granddad's legacy. Because of this, he plays two sets. The first one's a country set, and he gradually works up to the more hellbent material. I'd not seen Hank III live before, and I can recommend it highly. He's got a crack squad of musicians, and while the lyrics are mostly about getting fucked up and starting fights, you can't really go wrong with those particular topics, at least as far as country's concerned. [gallery ids="17034,17035,17036,17037,17038,17039,17040,17041,17042,17043,17044,17045"]

The Revival Tour at the Granada on Friday night

revival tour header The long-running acoustic punk Revival Tour made its first-ever stop in Lawrence (or Kansas City) on Friday night. The Granada Theater in Lawrence was filled with folks in the mood for a sing-along. Surprisingly, though, the place wasn't packed. Whether it was the fact that Bad Religion took everyone's money on Monday, or that people weren't aware that the frontmen for the Get Up Kids, Rise Against, and Hot Water Music were playing solo acoustic, the crowd was far smaller than I was planning on.
That being said, the folks there were intent on having a good time. People were singing along, drinking heavily, and just generally having fun. Nobody lost their shit or stared acting stupid, and it was almost sedate enough to have had the audience sitting on the floor for the sing-along parts. Fun times, especially as Matt Pryor was added as a special guest for this stop, Lawrence being where he and his family live now.
It would've been a little better if Jenny O. hadn't been the solo female representative on the tour. While I love the positive vibes (lots of "kid, keep your head up" songs were rocked Friday night), the lengthy chain of dudes with raspy, hoarse voices shouting as they strummed wore thin after a bit. Big points to Jenny for being the lone finger-picker on stage that night, as well.
Nice time and all, but several of the performers' voices were showing their years of yelling. I think that recent spate of Hot Water Music dates messed up Chuck Ragan's voice, because he was eight different kinds of hoarse. Dave Hause's voice rang out clear as a bell, though. Given the number of people singing along, you'd think that he was the star of the show, not Rise Against's Tim McIlrath. [gallery ids="16613,16614,16615,16616,16617,16622,16621,16620,16619,16618,16623,16624,16625,16626,16627"]

Saturday night at Middle of the Map

So, where were these Middle of the Map pictures and videos last week? Thanks to some fine Internet mischief-makers, I couldn't access the site for the better part of two days. Thanks, guys. That was dandy. I understand some of you folks out there have a problem with our hosts at GoDaddy, but some of us don't have the time, energy, and money to swap service providers and DNS hosts every time somebody does something stupid. Anyhow, video above from Oils and below from y(our) fri(end), both Lawrence artists performing at the RecordBar on Saturday, April 6, 2013, as part of the I Heart Local Music showcase during the festival. Pictures follow the y(our) fri(end) video, featuring both bands in motion, as well as the Capsules, Pujol, Soft Reeds, and Divine Fits.
[gallery ids="16601,16600,16599,16598,16597,16596,16595,16594,16593,16591,16590,16588,16589,16592,16587,16586,16585,16584,16583,16582,16581,16579,16580"]

Friday night at Middle of the Map

Thoughts from Friday night at Middle of the Map: - Many more small-scale shows, fewer of the blow-out parties of last year. Even Iceage and Jeff the Brotherhood back-to-back at the Riot Room wasn't nearly as crazy as Fucked Up / Coalesce the year before. - Speaking of Iceage: holy shit. A total clusterfuck mess. Far more entertaining than their show at the Jackpot, though. Honestly, they could've played "Ecstacy" over and over for the half hour they were on stage, and I would've been happy. - Not A Planet has half a set that sounds like Kara's Flowers, which I really enjoyed, and another half of a set that sounds like the White Stripes, which I didn't care for. Good pipes on that singer, though. - If ever there were a band which i didn't understand, it would be the Joy Formidable. Their drummer was all crash and bang. They're essentially a less-dynamic Yeah Yeah Yeahs, or a band that listened to a lot of My Bloody Valentine, only to get the roar and none of the subtleties. There must've been a reason the Uptown was packed for their set, but I can't figure out why. Everyone couldn't've been waiting for Grizzly Bear. - Grizzly Bear was amazing. Words can do no justice, and I think the images (complete with weird moving flaming jellyfish-style lights) do more to evoke what was taking place on that Uptown stage than anything I could write. They were just beautiful. [gallery ids="16552,16553,16554,16555,16556,16557,16558,16559,16560,16561,16562,16563,16564,16565,16566,16567,16568"]

Gallery: Planet Comicon 2013

This year's Planet Comicon was absurdly huge. Having moved from its longtime home at the Overland Park International Trade Center to Kansas City's Bartle Hall allowed for huge halls in which to fit even bigger guests than before. Wil Wheaton, George Takei, Adam Badlwin, and Nicholas Brendon were just a few of the names that have taken Kansas City's convention from something which you went to because, "well, it's in KC" to an actual event to which pop culture obsessives could freak over the course of the year. Lines moved quickly, people were friendly, and I enjoyed myself something ridiculous. Were it not for the fact that it feel on the same weekend as the equally-wonderful Middle of the Map festival, I could've easily spent my entire weekend popping from panel to panel. As it was, Sunday provided ample opportunity to run into friends and chat with some of my favorite writers and artists. Next year, I'm collecting pictures of every incarnation of Doctor Who and/or Adventure Time characters. [gallery ids="16522,16523,16524,16525,16526,16527,16528,16529,16530,16531,16532,16533,16534,16535,16536,16537,16538,16539,16540,16541,16542,16543,16544,16545,16546,16547,16548"]