The Brick was packed at 8:00. Extra tables had been brought in and each of them was circled with patrons to maximum capacity. The waitstaff tried to hurry through the maze with dishes held high, but the standing patrons waiting for the show made their job impossible. With music scheduled to start any moment, and the kitchen open for another two hours, the two missions of The Brick were on a collision course.
It was about 8:15 when Daniel Gum appeared on stage. He sat slumped on a high stool, bundled in several layers of coats. His long blond hair cascaded out of the stocking cap that he had pulled down to his wire-rimmed glasses. It would be a solo show, and an acoustic one at that. He played for 25 minutes, offering the audience fun tidbits between his indie folk songs that barely made it above the din of talkers and silverware. That's a shame as Gum is one of the strongest songwriters in Kansas City, and both his playing and gentle voice are a balm for rough days. He played four or five songs from an upcoming album that is still in progress. Regulars would recognize "Cowboy Song" or "The Glory of Love" as they've been regulars in Gum's live set for a year now. His 2020 debut album only received a single nod. When Gum announced his cover of Big Star's "Thirteen" the audience perked up. A recent studio recording of the song is in rotation on a local radio station, and several members of the audience suddenly made the connection between a song they've heard, and the performer they were seeing. It's a loving cover from an artist who idolizes Alex Chilton and played for an audience that surely must as well – unless they were just there for the mozzarella sticks, then all bets were off.
Lazy Projector were up next. While this was once the solo project of guitarist/vocalist Aaron Shinn, the lineup now includes Tell Pryor on guitar, Dustin Mott on drums, and Luke Caddy on bass/backing vocals. It's this quartet that appears on the band's new album Future Fiction released in August. Together the foursome delivered a set of laid-back indie rock with country undertones that got the gals in boots dancing and waiving their hands in the air. Shinn himself is not a dancer. In fact, he stood behind the microphone and delivered his vocals stoically. I must have taken 30 photos of him, and yet his facial expression never changed once. Caddy, however, was into it, moving as much as one can on the small stage at The Brick. The band played a long 50-minute set that not only included all ten tracks from its new album, but also added both "Golden Child" and "Disco" from its 2019 debut Evoco. The band closed out its set with "Careless Tongue" featuring delightful twin guitar leads from both Pryor and Shinn that were definitely worth the wait.
At 10:00 the waitstaff started closing out tickets which provided several diners the impetus they needed to leave. As such, I was able to spend the half hour between acts hiding at a newly-opened small table in the back, happily out of the way of the waiter who got more and more irritated each time he had to ask the jumble of drinkers to let him through to the bar.
This was an album release show. A 2022-style album release show that is. That means that Brent Windler's excellent album New Morning Howl came out last summer, but the vinyl has just now arrived, triggering this party. In my case, the party was well-timed as it allowed me to revisit the intricately produced and orchestrated power-pop songs that played soundtrack to my ambles late last summer. Windler started out with a couple of my favorites, getting help from guitarist Wills Van Doorn, bassist Mathias Kuhl, drummer Brendan Culp, and keyboardist Nick Siegel. In the middle of the set the band would be dismissed for a stripped-down ukulele-only rendition of "New Morning Howl" and for "Mr. Sun" where Windler was accompanied by Siegel's piano. Siegel's keyboard would be a versatile instrument throughout the set, playing not only the role of piano, but swelling strings, and serving as a convincing Fender Rhodes as well.
After this slow section, the uncommitted corners of the room filed out, missing the band's cover of John Lennon dis-track, "Steel and Glass." Windler's voice echoed the venom wonderfully. But it was penultimate song "My Josephine" that would serve as the night's highlight. Here the audience joined Windler for the "la la la la" middle portion of the song, and Van Doorn's vibrato-rich guitarwork held the room spellbound. His slide work during the Beatle-esque final number "In My Daze" was nothing to sneeze at either.
Afterwards the audience called for an encore. A quick huddle followed, but the band didn't know any more songs. To appease the room, Windler decided to go it alone, first attempting a cover of Badfinger's "Baby Blue" before realizing that he didn't know the lyrics, then settling instead for "I'm In Love with a Girl" – the second Big Star cover of the night. Next time we need to get Brent Windler and Daniel Gum on stage together for "The Ballad Of El Goodo." Who do I need to bribe to make that happen?
It was only 11:15 when Brent Windler ended his set, but I'd already had enough of shouting over the crowds and being in the way, so I just waved my goodbyes, pushed through the door, and started the walk home.