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Thursday August 25th, 2022 at The Replay Lounge in Lawrence, KS
Camp Childress, Daniel Gum, The Blast Monkeys, & The Chloregards

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Early shows are good. Just, you know, they can interfere with dinner. As such, I arrived in Lawrence just a bit before 6pm and hungry. The doorman told me the matinee wouldn’t start for another 40 or 50 minutes. In the ‘90s I’d kill time by walking to Rudy’s for a slice. Why not relive the past? Well, all love to the OGs, but that crust is just cardboard. How did I ever eat it? Sated if not satisfied, I walked back to the club where I discovered the opener 3 songs deep into its set. Do I blame the doorman? Rudy’s? Doc Brown? Anyone but my indiscriminate palate please.

Once through the door, my senses were assaulted by young gal in pigtails wearing a white Lolita frock, covered in body glitter, and covering The Pixies’ “Here Comes Your Man.” She was having a rough go of it and the two guys that made up her rhythm section weren’t doing much better. Forgotten lyrics. Botched guitar solo. She didn’t care. Punk rock rules. The band is The Chloregards and it’s led by Chloe (no last names), with Zared on bass and RJ on drums. Generation Z. Xs on their hands. Short scale guitar. Looked like a short scale bass too. Kids. Bless them. The next two songs were originals (I think) with the final introduced as its famous one. The band is awfully new to have a theme song, but the lauds are warranted. It’s a great song. “Sigma Male” is both cloyingly twee and defiantly riot grrrl. Amateurish. Fun. And fierce. I won’t be late to their next gig.

It was already 7:15 by the time two-piece The Blast Monkeys took the stage. More youngsters. More Xed hands. Vocalist/guitarist Scott Vick is chatty. Drummer Kyle Chambers is too. There’s a comfortable schtick between them, and I’m here for it. Vick started the set by urging the audience to rage then launched into a couple of pop-punk songs that were awfully Green Day. Then there was a shift that brought in a bit more complexity. And some minor keys. Vick introduced one of these with, “Who is ready for a super old emo song I wrote in high school?” then added “Not just emo, Midwest emo.” Cheers erupted from the audience as he picked through piquant jazz arpeggios. The band blended the subgenres well. Jawbreaker well. Vick tore through power chords, strummed odd chords, and occasionally stomped a box to shift the sound a bit. He has a good rasp to his voice. And, when he pushed it a bit too far in the final number, it broke in a very satisfying folk punk way. Chambers kept (double) time, but also let the rhythm slide for more interesting propulsive storytelling every now and again. Even if the breakdown in one song was only “When I Come Around,” the band is charming and fun, and I say they should get to rip off any band they want.

Then came the trio version of Daniel Gum – that’s Gum on vocals and electric guitar with Joel Stratton on bass and Micah Ritchie on drums. The threesome played a six-song thirty-minute set that included two cuts from the band’s 2020 album, two unreleased songs that have become staples of the live show, a trademark cover of Big Star’s “Thirteen,” and one brand new song with the working title of “Blues in A Major.” While the live full-band versions of Gum’s songs always trade some of his folky underpinnings for indie rock punch, the band was uncharacteristically muscular – especially the new song whose rollicking backbeat sounded straight from a 1960s garage. Throughout the set Gum was his usual witty self. It’s low stakes when you’re playing to a dozen friends and assorted undemanding barflies, but Daniel Gum is one of my favorite songwriters in the city, and it’s nice to see him and his band nail it.

When the headliner started at 9:00 the “matinee” tag was wearing thin. The kids who had shown up for the first acts had largely left, relinquishing the club to those with unmarred hands now holding beers. Camp Childress is the project of Bill Jones, though his regular backing band of guitarist/keyboardist Matt Gore, bassist Will Styron, and drummer Justin Bohannan may somehow be official members. The band’s music is pop. Upbeat Indie pop. Maybe a bit surfy. Maybe a bit jazzy. Perhaps a lost brother to the incestuous KC pop collective that spawned Shy Boys, Full Bloods, ABCs and countless others. As one would expect, most songs centered on Jones, his mustache, his voice, and his clean guitar leads. There were just enough variations – a guitar/bass swap, some additional synthesizer work here and there – to keep things interesting. The recorded version of Camp Childress seems to have a lot more synth, reveling in the maximalist possibilities of bedroom pop and GarageBand, but I think I like the immediacy of the live act better. The foursome played a 25-minute set that included every song the band knew minus the one they voted to skip. The audience would have liked a bit more.

I passed out a few Too Much Rock buttons to the bands, delivered a few departing fist bumps to friends, gave the evil eye to the doorman, and then slipped out to my car. In the passenger seat was a box containing the remainder of my pizza. I gave it a dirty look too. Then I opened it, jammed another piece into my mouth, and headed for the turnpike. Indiscriminate palate indeed.