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Monday August 1st, 2022 at Farewell in Kansas City, MO
Abandoncy, Dreamist, Teenage Halloween, Junior Retreat, Pinkville, & The Uncouth

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I didn’t really have time to go to a six-band bill, so I certainly don’t have time to write about one. So, let’s just get some thoughts down about this gargantuan night. First, the why. The venue was double booked. Two rival shows on the same date that agreed to combine and cooperate. Even before the marriage, one show was already too big – everyone wants to play with their friends, and everyone wants to play with good bands. None of these facts are very interesting or novel. It’s been this way since the dawn of time. I could hardly see a hardcore bill in the ‘90s that didn’t have seven bands on it. “Oh you’ve gotta let my band play that Texas is the Reason show!” So anyway, here we go.

The Uncouth started at exactly eight o’clock. It was light outside. It was 98° inside. It felt like 115°. Air conditioning my ass. The band cut its eleven-song set down to nine to meet the twenty-five-minute slot they were given. Sad, as the two cut are my favorite singalongs. But I was more put off by the tiny slot than the band. You’ve never met a jollier group of hooligans than the guys in The Uncouth. The quartet ripped through a quick set of new material (one song a debut!), only dipping back as far as 2016 to play “Madness on the Streets.” The new material combined with an early show time, and a crowd that wasn’t expecting Oi! / imported fans that weren’t expecting Farewell, created a set without the usual dogpiles and singalongs. Oh well, another night. Along with the new tracks, the audience got a cover of The 4 Skins’ “Evil” and a cover of Cock Sparrer’s “Because Your Young” – the latter serving as the closer. The imported crew sang along with that one. A few Farewell regulars sang along too. I’m looking at you Ian Andreasen. Bravo.

Pinkville are from Saint Louis. And damn are they young. Hardcore punk rock that sits somewhere between the speedy melee of early Bad Religion and the snare-happy anarcho-punk of Subhumans. Overtly political. Artwork using that Crass stenciling. Singer wore a shirt that said, “I SMOKED CRACK WITH HUNTER BIDEN.” The kids played their rapid-fire songs one after the next. Not much time for banter. Not much room to jump around. In the middle of the set, the frontman looked at his bandmates, pleaded with his eyes, and then returned to the microphone to ask the audience, “You like hardcore? Well too bad here’s a Blink-182 cover!” It was fast. Our little frontdude’s fingers were fast too. Band covered The Dicks’ “The Dicks Hate the Police.” The bass player wore a shirt promoting that song. It was snappier with less grit and more sneer. I liked it. Farewell import Corey Pederson knew every word.

Between acts I cooled off outside in the 95° air. Two girls walked by leaning on each other. One on the phone. I overheard her say, “We’re probably just going to get something to eat. The vibes here are not right.” True, Farewell was not the normal Farewell. But with the two street punk bands out of the way, part two of the night could begin. Vibes could be saved.

Junior Retreat are a Wichita three piece. They’ve been around a few years with more than a few line-ups. Frontman Connor Eaves sings and plays guitar. His voice is emotive and cracks when it wants. His Gibson SG growls. This isn’t an emo band with twinkly guitars and finger taps. Maybe it’s post-hardcore. Maybe it’s screamo. Whatever you want to call it, it is built on power and propulsion and raw feelings and screams. Drummer Darin Stephens contributes a lot of those screams, either as lead or more often trading off with Eaves. Bassist Ashley Knepper also provides vocals. Clean and contrasting. And a bit pitchy. Sort of a less busy Cap’n Jazz vibe from the band. But even a little Cap’n Jazz is a good thing for an old guy like me. This band felt more familiar to the Farewell audience. Fans stacked deeper, but still maintained their arms-folded, head nodding, appreciation pose. Until the last song – a song dedicated to Kole Waters who used to be in the band. A few bars in, Waters stormed the stage, stole the mic, and gave energy to the crowd. Then pit then erupted into a sizeable game of pushy pushy. Then the set was over.

Then came the headliner. Or as we like to call it in Kansas City, the fourth band of six. FML. Teenage Halloween are from New Jersey. I know because the band announced that four or five times during its 35-minute set. The audience responded by hollering up “Bruce Springsteen” and other acts and performers from the Garden State. These are our roles. Before a note was played, Luk Henderiks told the audience that their songs would be about “queer struggle” and then, now properly prepared, we were off to the races. The band is a four piece with two guitars and lots of backing vocals. Pop punk. But maybe more in common with the current UK DIY flavor than anything Lookout! released. They’re signed to Don Giovianni, if that helps. I’m sure it doesn’t. Lots of hooks. Lots of energy. Lots of showmanship. Lead guitarist Eli Frank (hey another Gibson SG) mugged for the camera every time I pointed it at them. Most songs were sung by Henderiks. They have a bit of a rasp like Brian Fallon (is The Jersey Rasp a thing? Something in the water?). But the songs sung by bassist Tricia Marshall were my favorites. Good variety in the set. The fast songs always sent the crowd into a dancing frenzy. From my vantage point it looked like the ladies were owning that pit. The band told everyone to be careful. I felt a little dirty for liking the set as much as I did. Dirty like when I saw The Front Bottoms (Jersey what do you do to me?!). Both bands seem to be for “the kids,” and I don’t think that includes me. Afterwards I talked to several of the band members. They were earnest and friendly, and said it was okay if I bought their split with Homeless Gospel Choir because it had that song that Marshall sang that I liked (“Burn”).

Everything after this was bonus time. A lot of the crowd left. Those gals that ruled the pit during Teenage Halloween? Gone. The imported bovver boys that showed up for Uncouth? Long gone. Any hope of Farewell not being a steam bath? Sweated out an hour ago.

Dreamist was up next. Another four piece with two guitars. The vocals come from Kole Waters who we heard from earlier. Enormous pedal boards. And Waters’ wasn’t working. Just as I was about to page someone with an EE degree, Waters got it going and the set started. The band’s songs are long, drifting from twinkling emo into post-rock climaxes. From sung to screamed. From beautiful to brutal. And all of them back again. While Waters’ is generally the pretty guitar, both he and Elisha Ruhman can make their guitars howl. That’s when the crashing drums of Mitri McCawley come into play. Whether on bass or keyboards, Jacob Kingsley filled in the gaps, giving body and weight to the compositions that otherwise might float away on a bed of lighter than air guitar effects. Although the band has been around in this incarnation for four years, they’ve yet to release anything. But fret not, rumor is that debut LP is just around the corner.

By this point it was after midnight. I was somehow still standing. Also I’m somehow still typing this now. Let’s wrap this up.

Abandoncy played last. Maybe they were the headliner. Maybe they drew the short straw. Damian Fisher fronts the band. He promised a long song then two short songs then another long song, or maybe it was two longs and a short, or… who can keep track. Bassist Lincoln Peterson seemed confused as well. The long songs are long. They’re multi-part with false endings and enormous stylistic shifts. They’re really several short songs with one title. Stylistically, I’ve not figured out what the band is. Indie Rock maybe. But maybe that noisy Amphetamine Reptile sound says “punk” to you. Or maybe that undulating crunching heaviness feels like metal. The answer is yes. Abandoncy will give you all of those feels. Fisher set up sideways for a better view of both Peterson and drummer Morgan Greenwood. That rhythm section is a piece of work. Always on its toes. Always lurching this way or that. Greenwood can beat the hell out of the kit all the while playing in 11/4 while the bass and guitar are in 12/8. I made those numbers up. But math. Hey, maybe it’s mathrock! No, it’s not mathrock. The set ended with a long. With “I Have Your Disease in Me,” which also closes the band’s latest album, Pastel//Anguish. On the album, all hell breaks loose during the song’s climatic coda. Live, the band went for it. Loud, crashing, chaos that ended with drums scattered and an unmoored guitar ringing from the floor, and with Peterson pressed up against their amp, playing the same pattern over and over while everything collapsed around them. Delightful way to put a very long night to bed.

And just as a postscript (because why not make this longer), as I stood counting Greenwood’s beats, computing the least common denominators, and composing photographs, I was consistently being charged by a dancer. One dancer. The only one dancing. One dude going side-to-side crashing into the fifteen folks who remained in the club. None of us very happy about it. So thanks to the folks who tried to shield me so I could get my video. It almost worked. And to the dude: How do you still have the energy to be an ass after six bands? After midnight? On a Monday? After five hours in a sauna?