Wednesday January 19th, 2000 at The Hurricane in Kansas City, MO
The Black Water

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There are a lot of bands in Kansas City – enough that you can see a few shows a week for over two years and still not see half of them. Some of them you don't want to see [for the love of God, read the rest of the reviews on the site and learn from my mistakes], but others you just never happen to catch. For me The Black Water fell into the second category, not the first.

I've noticed The Black Water are constantly but not consistently labeled and stereotyped. They must be a difficult band for many people to classify because they combine so many elements and styles. Vocalist/guitarist Shaun Hamontree's voice is deep and full with a slight vibrato reminiscent of Peter Murphy or Andrew Eldridge. This in itself works well but when he rolls his "r"s, it's simply too much and my Cleopatra Records Cheese Factor Alert™ goes off. However the "goth" comparisons end there as the songs themselves just aren't built for the ethereal yet simple goth structure.

Their set included long sprawling, almost jamming, instrumental numbers that rely more on atmosphere than constant soloing. Other songs were built on simple structures and even attempted to establish a groove – definitely not the direction I enjoyed most. However the band were at their best when both elements combined. Those songs were based on a solid idea and spiraled outward from it returning occasionally to remind you of the song's direction. This indie formula of expanse brought to mind Mogwai much more than The Banshees.

The Black Water experience on this night was a little different...after (intentionally) losing their drummer only a few days before the show, they quickly rounded up some friends, a collection of metal junk, some nice cookware, and created what Shaun referred to as "The Black Water Junk Yard Band" (presumably modeled after Emmett Otter's Frogtown Hollow Jubilee Jug Band).

Shaun was joined on stage by band members Brent Kinder on bass, guitarist Terry Moore and (rumoured) new drummer David Ryan on a kit that consisted of only a cymbal, a snare and various cook pots. To fill out the sound, two friends blew into pipes, struck candle holders with screw drivers or plinked on a child's toy piano while another friend played chords on a small Casio keyboard.

Although it's hard to comment on each member's style and performance [both because this show happened some time ago and because of the odd nature of the performance], it is interesting to note that the band's standout, professional sound was not the result of individual stand out performances. Each player contributed appropriately and it was in their combination that they created something greater. Keep watch on any band which works under that maxim.