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Friday October 21st, 2022 at Farewell in Kansas City, MO
The Bad Ideas, Internet Dating, Camp Childress, & Bam & Z.

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My first show back in Kansas City needed to be at Farewell. It’s only right and natural. And it was only fitting that the show, scheduled to start at 8pm, didn’t actually kick off until 9pm. I spent the bonus time outside monopolizing a table, editing photos from my previous visit to Farewell, and enduring the smokers. I listened as several of the bands negotiated the order of the bill. It changed three times before a decision was arrived at.

Ultimately Bam & Z volunteered to open the night. I knew nothing of the project. After seeing it I can confirm that I’m in no way qualified to place it in any contextual light. I overheard the door gal say it was a trap project, then elaborated that it sounded like Lil Uzi Vert. The world of Soundcloud emo rap is foreign to me, so we’ll just go with her description. Five (except when it was six) skinny kids on stage – or more frequently off it – jumping, dancing, rapping, and singing along to the synth swells, booming bass, and tight snare hits delivered by a laptop. Generally, only two or three of the performers rapped while the rest of the crew just provided hype – sometimes with the help of a microphone, sometimes without. The backing tracks also contained the autotuned backing vocals that were doubled live. This was for the best as the live vocals were often a bit flat.

The set began with one of its highlights – a high energy track with a big lyrical hook that was drilled into the audience’s heads with repetition. Each time the line repeated it was more emphatic than the last until the song exploded into blissful chaos of stomping legs, waving arms, and shouted voices. This formula served the band well throughout its forty-minute set. Forty minutes is a bit long for an opening act – especially for a night full of disparate acts that would already require some patience and open minds from the audience – but Bam & Z carried it well. A cursory Google tells me the band has at least three (digital) albums and quite a catalog of singles to draw its set from. Even with this wealth of danceable material, and a stage show loaded with energy, the Farewell crowd hadn’t worn their dancing shoes. I’ll hope for a do-over.

The opening trap act was followed by a progressive indie pop one. Aaron must have booked this show. Of course, when the gig is a benefit – in this case for KC Tenants, a vocal tenants’ rights organization that attempts to bring low-cost housing to the forefront of any future development discussion – the more people you can get through the door the better. Even if that means sacrificing comradery and flow.

Unlike the opener, Camp Childress is a band I can provide some insight into. The (live) quartet’s breezy indie pop, shimmering gaze, twinkling emo, and jazzy progressions are all comfort foods for me. Of course, that’s a deep dive no one really wants to read. Instead, I’ll say the band’s songs range from the languid to the propulsive, with the fast ones doing the most for the audience. These ones also masked frontman Bill Jones’ spotty vocals that were certainly the result of the monitor-less Farewell stage. I’d seen the act before, but still found it hard to process all that was going on, or to locate the source of what I was hearing. Alongside the bevy of effects pedals used by the guitarists, there was also some processing through a sampler that I never quite figured out. The bass, however, was clear. Maybe it was my position in the room, a leftover setting from the previous act, or maybe it was the decision of the soundman, but the active bass of Will Styron dominated the mix. And I enjoyed it. During the first number, the crew from Bam & Z jumped and danced – even showing off a bit of footwork, but that energy faded as the set continued. Late in the set one of the rappers hollered up “Go Crazy!” It was good advice. Jones smiled warmly and said “I’m trying,” then launched the fourpiece into the half-hour set’s finale. The band and its fans may not have gone crazy, but every head in the house was nodding in unison and losing themselves in the heady pop.

Next up was Internet Dating. The project seems to be the solo endeavor of recent transplant Deano Erickson. Someone who, until now, was known to me only as “the soundguy.” No one told he had magic John Fahey fingers. In a short four-song acoustic set, he managed to mesmerize the crowd with various fingerpicking technics augmented by finger taps both below and above his capo. He furthered his compositions with the help of a looping pedal that he often used to build his own percussive accompaniment. The result was a curious mix of folk and Midwestern emo. Erickson’s light, breathy vocals, tucked between the guitar leads didn’t push the project one way or the other. Erickson is an enthusiastic performer, and his banter was bubbly as he introduced earnest songs about consent, about polyamory, and about the importance of not littering. The latter calling out cigarette butts in particular because “bunnies eat them.” The small audience roared approval as each song concluded, and after the set I added dates from Internet Dating’s upcoming tour with Abandoncy to my concert calendar.

By design, the disparate bands performing each brought their own fans. It was a well-executed scheme that generated $300 for KC Tenants. Of course, it also meant the room steadily emptied as the night went on, as large groups left once their friends had performed. The few remaining only got fewer when someone suggested a run to a taco truck elsewhere in the city. It was after 11:30 when the headliner went on for a dozen fans and completists.

There isn’t a more reliable band in Kansas City than The Bad Ideas. Over the quartet’s ten-year career, they’ve delivered set after set of speedy punk songs tinged with post-punk and punctuated with lyrics expressing the outrages (both minor and major) of vocalist Breaka Dawn. Big shows, small shows, early shows, late shows, bar shows, basement shows, parking lot shows, sober shows, sloppy shows, it just doesn’t matter, the band is always happy to be there, enjoying themselves, never taking it too seriously, supporting the other acts, and delivering for the audience. This set had a bit of it all. Breaka Dawn worked the area in front of the stage – sometimes pacing, sometimes skipping, often stopping to scream her grievances. Between songs she thanked the audience for sticking around, she shared her displeasure with the supreme court, of the for-profit healthcare system, and she made sure we knew her thoughts on landlords too. Bassist Matt Roberts would later elaborate on the last point, first remembering a friend of the band who was murdered by his landlord last year for demanding heat in his apartment, and then thanking KC Tenants for all they do to advocate for the rights of tenants. The fact that the band didn’t follow that screed with a cover of “Let’s Lynch the Landlord” is an opportunity lost – not just thematically, but also because of the sonic similarities The Bad Ideas share with Dead Kennedys. But there were to be no covers this night. The twelve songs the band did play swung from muddy and loose to sharp and stinging. When one song tipped too far to the former, guitarist Britt Adair stopped the band, apologized “We can do better,” and restarted the push. The audience of familiar faces laughed at Adair’s candor, and enjoyed the half hour set with few surprises, but with everything they could want from the spirited foursome.

There were no quick exits after the band finished. Those who were still there were not bound for another location, but instead had chosen to make Farewell the last stand of their Friday night. Those bellied to the bar stayed bellied, those smoking outside stayed and puffed away, and the band didn’t rush to dissemble the stage. I lingered with friends only for a bit, and then after deciding I wasn’t brave enough to talk to the cutie I’d been crushing on all night, I slipped out the door headed for home and my own Kansas City bed.