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Wednesday November 4th, 2015 at Jackpot Saloon in Lawrence, KS
Beach Slang, Luthuania, & Worriers

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I'm afraid I've no time to properly write this one up, but here is the quickie:

It was the opener that I came to see. Brooklyn's Worriers is driving, but never hectic, punk rock full of melody and chock with amazing lyrics. Although the band's lineup has been pretty stable lately, it's really Lauren Denitzio who runs the show. On stage they [preferred pronoun] was polite but not really chatty. In fact, the quartet had completed four songs before a word was spoken. This was the band's first time playing the Plains so maybe they were just feeling the small crowd out. Guitarist Lou Hanman had lots of sneaky leads that blended well into the band's music, but taken out of context were total shredders. Still, the mix was flat, meaning all the euphoric highs from band's new album (Imaginary Life, Don Giovanni, 2015) were lost entirely. Maybe it was the curse of the opener – low energy fans, low energy band. I hope both give another area show a shot, as Worriers are definitely one of the best bands going.

Lithuania are a three-piece from Philly whose members are part of more popular bands. I heard the band online and wasn't impressed. Even looking at the band let me know I wouldn't like 'em. Turns out, I liked them. Sure there was sloppy, substance-dulled garage rock in the set, but Dominic Angelella's Gibson SG also soared to great power-pop heights, and also offered smart, dissonant, knotty, and winding guitar lines. Bassist Eric Slick often led the songs leaving Angelella to fill in the gaps, and drummer Ricardo Lagomasino to merely support it all. I'm still not sold on the band's recordings, but live, this was a very good band.

Philly's Beach Slang headlined the night. I thought I hadn't heard the band before, but as soon as the quartet started I realized that not only had I heard them, but I had featured two of the band's EPs on the podcast last year. Sure it's a sign that I'm old and my memory is going, but this dementia does provide happy surprises from time to time. Beach Slang was a happy surprise.

The band is lead by James Alex's voice and his guitar. If you're old (but not too old), you may remember him from Weston. Beach Slang isn't that pop punk juggernaut, but instead it's a high-powered rock & roll band with a lot of hooks, a lot of swagger, and a giant dose of Paul Westerberg. In fact, there isn't a show recap, interview, or album review out there that doesn't mention The Replacements – Alex himself mentioned the band 3 times during the set, and when the band came back for a requested encore, it covered "Bastards of Young." There is simply no shame in the band's love for the 'Mats, and no apologies are necessary.

With only fifteen people in the club (the show coincided with the Kansas Jayhawk's season opener which drew most of the campus), Alex was able to able to make real connections with the audience, and chat informally with them as well as with bassist Ed McNulty and guitarist Ruben Gallego throughout the band's short eleven-song set. The result was a relaxed show: zero annoyances, great music, and a delight to attend. In short, everything that I wish every show was, but very few actually are.