Too Much Rock
Pics+Video Podcasts Singles About
Saturday June 4th, 2022 at Velo Garage in North Kansas City, MO
Creepy Jingles, Daniel Gum, & Rachel Cion

Other Views:
email me your links!

Outside is the best side, so faced with several excellent show options, I picked the backyard beer garden at Velo Garage & Tap House. While not my first time seeing a show in the graveled lot adorned with cozy strands of hanging bulbs and littered with umbrella’d picnic tables and Adirondack chairs, this was my first visit of the season. Over the winter I had forgotten that shows start at 9pm instead of the advertised 8. My mistake meant I saw all three soundchecks while I finished the NYT’s Saturday puzzle. The early bird gets something. Luckily it was a pleasant evening.

At 9pm Rachel Cion climbed atop a stool set on the low corner stage. I’d seen her once before, but in a barely amplified bookstore where her set fell solidly within the acoustic singer/songwriter milieu. This stage brought different elements of Cion’s songs to light, most noticeably the PA boosted the simple power chords played on her acoustic guitar. She started with a loud one. One where she doesn’t exactly scream, but there’s intent. Her voice varies in each song – in some songs it’s pushed clear and loud, in others it remains hushed and meek. A quiet fingerpicked song (the only one of the evening) followed as Cion admitted she hadn’t plotted a set list, and was making one up as she went along. In the middle of the six-song set, an aura of punk shown through with the angsty Hole-like “Ugly Girl.” And by the time the final song was played (in drop D tuning no less), the transmogrification was complete. Cion is a grunge band waiting to happen. There I said it. And while that prospect scares me, I’ll take it over the alternative proposed by someone I overheard in the audience. That person suggested Cion sounded like Sheryl Crow. God help us.

In addition to the deep blue evening sky serving as a glorious backdrop, outdoor shows offer smokers a chance to see live music while lighting up. I had no idea so many people still smoked. Do your mothers know about this? Might I suggest that you instead you avail yourselves of the venue’s cornhole set. Someone’s grandfather did and he looked to be having a wonderful time. Be like someone’s grandpa.

I’m a Daniel Gum stan. Regular readers know that by now. Everyone else should too. I don’t say that to introduce my bona fides, but rather to note that somehow this was my first time seeing Gum perform with his backing band – a trio that includes Micah Ritchie on drums and Joel Stratton on bass. The set began with standout songs from his album Thirteen, but quickly shifted to a trio of new songs. The first, called “Ain’t Too Much,” tapped into some dreamy Chris Bell power-pop. The second was introduced as “Cowboy Song,” though Gum suggested that maybe he should come up with a better name. He then paused with puzzled look on his face before confessing that it would probably stick because, “I don’t have many thoughts.” That sort of quick witted yet self-depreciating banter continued through the night, earning deserved laughs each time. The trio of new tracks ended with “Brother Shawn.” That one has been a staple of Gum’s live sets for nearly a year, and its tender lyrics align it with the standout tracks from Gum’s debut. Although the live rhythm section are provided with few chances to shine, the added players do enable bigger dynamics shifts, and facilitate grandiose outros such as the one that closed “35 years.” After one such melee, Gum had to check on Ritchie, suggesting that he should wear a bicycle helmet with a mirror so he can keep an eye on what was happening back there. He also noted that would be helpful as he “bonks [his] head a lot.” Time was running short when the band launched into “Thirteen” by Big Star. It’s a perfect fit. And it sounded amazing with the full band. I could live in that song. The band planned a new “rocker” for the finale, but Gum was instead guilted into closing with requested cut “Andrew.” When the requester called out for an encore, Gum shouted back “We’ve got another band, Noah!” delighting the crowd once again and ending the set.

The four members of The Creepy Jingles hurried to set up as they faced down the venue’s 11pm curfew. Due to an earlier soundcheck and some shared gear, the act was ready to go in ten minutes. I like it. Jocelyn Olivia Nixin began center stage with her big hollowbody guitar. It was chilly so her normal sundress was supplanted with an oversized sweatshirt. Thankfully, lead guitarist Travis McKenzie still wore his trademark white bowler or I might not have recognized the act. The quartet worked through a setlist of seven or eight songs drawn from both the band’s new album Take Me at My Wordplay as well as ones from its earlier EP. The venue-provided soundman kept it loud, and I pushed my earplugs in for the first time of the night. Later I’d think the sound wasn’t very good and remember that choice. A scientific sampling of earplugs in and out revealed everything sounded better without earplugs. Particularly McKenzie’s solos and the backing vocals of bassist Andrew Woody. Drummer Nick Robertson sounded good either way, but maybe better when I was reclining comfortably on an Adirondack chair. For the final three songs Nixin shifted to keyboard. She started with “Working Class Clown.” I’ve noted before that I think the song feels like a Brian Wilson composition, and that, in general, the keyboard songs are my favorites. This held true at Velo Garage and the band just sounded richer with Nixin on keys.

After the band pushed out final number with lots of gusto and much vocal fry, the set was over. The soundman suggested there might be time for one more, but the band waved it off and began dismantling the stage. On the way out, I starred longingly at the Daniel Gum t-shirts, before ultimately remembering my packed closet. Instead, I made my way through the back door of the club, past the active ping pong table, by those bellied up against the bar, and to my scooter waiting at the curb. I thought about driving my car, parking is plentiful, but as I said earlier, outside is the best side, and it was a pleasant evening.