I don't know what I can say about this. The show was a memorial for Britt Adair who passed away on May 1st. If you didn't know Britt, well, that's sad for you as she was a lovely person. She also happened to be in great bands, most notably The Bad Ideas who figured prominently into this memorial. She worked at Josey Records. She booked shows. She drew flyers. She was everywhere. And she was always psyched to be there. She thought every band was amazing and told them so. I miss her. And so did hundreds of other people who attended this memorial at Record Bar. A memorial that doubled as a donate-what-you-can fundraiser for Midwest Music Foundation and its mission to support regional musicians who are unable to work for medical reasons.
The memorial started early with a three-song medley from Mitzi McKee. Just McKee and her piano working through stirring arrangements of songs from The Dead Milkmen, Siouxsie & The Banshees, & The Dead Kennedys – three songs that McKee though Britt would have enjoyed. McKee has a strong voice that sounds like it may have been in a musical or two. Her keyboarding also nice too. McKee was visible shook and choked up a few times as she paid tribute to her friend. I did too, so I didn't take many photos.
Another group of friends took the stage quickly after. Led by vocalist Breaka Dawn (Britt's co-captain in The Bad Ideas) and supported by George Magers (drums and ex-The Bad Ideas), Olive Cooke (guitar), Kim Conyers (bass), Promise Clutter (guitar) and Nichole Hobbs (backing vocals), the assemblage played a handful of songs that Dawn introduced as riot grrrl songs that The Bad Ideas had covered previously. In any other world, the highlight would have been the group's telling of X-Ray Spex's "Oh Bondage Up Yours!" with the sax solo most faithfully recreated by Cooke's guitar. However, the cover of The Clash's "Stay Free" with new lyrics written about Britt was this set's emotional high point.
Wick & the Tricks were next up to pay their tribute. The band hadn't played in years, but Britt had played in one of the band's many line-ups, so it was only fitting that Wick Trick pulled together a group for the memorial. The foursome ripped through two old numbers followed by a cover of Bikini Kill's "Rebel Girl." At any other show I'd have tons of photos and video to share and so much to say about the reformed (and sorely missed) band, but not this time. Just know Wick Thomas is still an excellent frontperson, it was good to see Jane Asylum on stage, and my eyes were very red.
Vibralux took the stage afterwards for a five-song tribute of its own. The set was all covers picked for, and dedicated to, Britt. I recall that the glam-AF quintet offered a couple of NY Dolls songs, an X cover, and a long story about a party they were at with Britt where touching butts figured prominently. The band ended with Nichole Hobbs carrying lead vocals for a telling of No Doubt's "Just a Girl" that had the audience bouncing along with arms around one another. It was a loving tribute.
The night turned a bit as The Utilitarians took the stage. Or maybe it was Pamper the Madman who played. Who can say, as the line-up sort of straddled the two. But either way, for the first time in the night, the setlist wasn't catered to Britt. Instead, the foursome just blasted the audience with its punk-fired rock & roll while frontwoman Theresa Scott added in a few entertaining remembrances in the gaps. First, she told a story about her NYC transplanted sister-in-law initially dismissing Kansas City, and only admitting the city had any cultural relevance after she saw Britt play guitar. Later she introduced a hardcore number, stating that she had written it for The Bad Ideas. Hmm, like when Springsteen wrote "Hungry Heart" to give to the Ramones? I wonder.
Unable to comprehend The Bad Ideas without Britt right now, the band announced that tonight they would perform as The Sad Ideas. Britt's guitar parts would be played by Mike Alexander (from Hipshot Killer and countless others) while bassist Matt Roberts picked up her backing vocals. The set was cathartic. Breaka Dawn was more focused than usual, Roberts more engaged with the audience, and Alexander was uncharacteristically intense. He scowled. He looked angry. Grief hits everyone differently. It was hard to see the band without Britt telling everyone to play faster. She was always ready to go. Or to go again when she didn't like how a song started. This set suffered none of her indignities. The band finished with a cover of Blatz's "Fuk Shit Up" that had Roberts momentarily surfing the crowd with his bass – until he was unceremoniously hoisted back on to the stage with a thud. The big revelation the night was that the band intends to record its last batch of songs and hopes to have them available for "next year's show." It sounds like Dawn is planning an annual remembrance. Maybe the resurrection of Britt's Summer Kamp Fest? I tried to take a few photos and some video, wondering if it was the last time that we'd see the band perform.
The evening culminated with Nature Boys. The trio has been dormant for years, only reappearing for a couple of benefit concerts since 2019. Add one more benefit to that short list. The threesome showed no signs of rust as it tore through a no-holds-barred ten-song set. Suzanne Hogan's screams were good, and her backing vocals even better. Danny Fischer's wiry guitar honed the sharp post-punk edge to the band's driving rock & roll. It was a sweaty set both on and off stage. A lively pit flourished for the entire 40-minute set. Dawn carried a dinosaur hobby "horse" through the chaos, bopping and knighting people with its plush head. As dancers tumbled to the ground they were quickly scooped back up. I took photos, letting go of some of that grief as I watched everyone enjoy the music and comradery. We've lost Britt, but not the scene that she worked so hard to cultivate. That's something to celebrate.
Britt's family suggests remembrance donations can be made directly to Midwest Music Foundation. If you'd like to donate directly to Britt's husband Christian LeBeau as he begins to rebuild his life, there is also a GoFundMe.