Friday November 8th, 2002 at The Hurricane in Kansas City, MO
The Black Mollys, & Shade Seven

The Black Mollys The Black Mollys Shade Seven Shade Seven [more]

I wasn't terribly excited about the show, and truthfully, I was only able to convince myself to go once I realized it would be an excuse to take the scooter out. In early November there are only so many days left that are warm and dry enough to scoot, so any opportunity to take a spin, should be exercised.

Opening the show was Oklahoma City's Shade Seven – a young foursome of upstarts preparing for their first EP release.After hearing their various demo recordings I was intrigued just enough to accept a spot on the guest list. Although the band's sound (both on demo and live) rests firmly in the middle of whatever MTV2 band is hip at the moment (Jimmy Eat World or what have you), there are occasional disjointed compositions that intrigue me.

Unfortunately, but probably wisely, the band decided to begin their set with the aforementioned straightforward bits that left me a bit cold. I imagine they were hoping to motivate the unmotivatable crowd... when will bands learn?

Guitarist/vocalist Travis Foote has a familiar voice that conveys both energy and emotion, and bassist Justin Tibbs' energetic stageshow betrays what must be hardcore roots. In total, however, no player seems to stand out in this band. Each song contains the appropriate parts and each instrument plays their role as preordained by the genre – variation isn't the key. The result is passable, even enjoyable, but certainly not innovative. Give the band a chance to discover who they are and then find out if you like that, until then, this band is probably a pass unless you simply can't get enough of the sound du jour.

Worry not Shade Seven band members, your performance was still the most enjoyable of the evening...

A moment before Shade Seven took the stage, I remembered the batteries for my camera were sitting at home in the charger. With only Duracells loaded (ones already given a workout at the 8th Street Taproom a week before), I knew it wouldn't last long. After only a half dozen shots, my camera began warning me and I had to leave all my manual adjustments and the flash behind. As a result there are lots of "arty" pictures of blurry band members. Between sets I hopped on the scooter and jetted down to Walgreen's and purchased Kodak's batteries designed for digital cameras. $7.99 is a lot for a four pack, but these should "recharge" quicker between shots and hopefully last through the gig. In retrospect that that was the biggest waste of $7.99 in my life.

My knowledge of The Black Mollys was (and is) pretty limited. Before the show I had only heard a few songs on, and that was pretty much it. Now I know they've been around for about a year in which time they've opened for Aerosmith, Sammy Hagar/David Lee Roth, and The Goo Goo Dolls/Third Eye Blind, and their live show attracts a skanky crew of thirty-somethings who wake up each morning, smoke a Marlboro Red, pull their favourite Bon Jovi t-shirt out of the cardboard box that serves as their dresser, drink a beer, pack a lunch and head to work at either the strip bar or the construction site. I have not seen a crew so cretin since, well, I don't know when.

Although the power pop mp3s on The Black Mollys' website are light, polished, catchy and youthful (see "Rock Whore" & "Turn You Off"), live the band's set focused much more on power than pop. Songs jutted out with a mock intensity that is generally reserved for early Ratt videos or late Bullet Boys ones. There were elements of pop and punk but mostly the band just made rock.

Although I've since gone into therapy, two images are burnt into my mind: The first of drummer Aaron Mumma, and how the odd layout of his drum kit placed him nearly on the floor, such that he was reaching up to play even the floor tom. There were no mounted rack toms; I assumed this was Mumma's design to ensure a clear view of his spiky mullet. I still see the outline of that Kentucky waterfall each time I close my eyes.

The second image is that of the whole of the band's audience. It was obvious they were enjoying themselves, that this was the night out, a night to let loose. That there are a whole crew of people who think that it doesn't get any better than wearing your most comfortable jeans, grinding up against your girlfriend, and listening to The Black Mollys with a cigarette in one hand and a can of PBR in the other.

Somehow I had ended up at a show that was not only not punk rock, but not even indie rock. It was just plan Rock & Roll. So all you Johnny Dare lovin' Hessians, you've got a new band.Only this one doesn't use a chainsaw as part of a musical repertoire, and if you close your eyes they're tolerable – even kinda good. But I'd never admit that.