It was Ricky Reyes' 50th birthday. There was a baked potato bar. An ice cream truck. And bands. Including his band, that he tagged to play first. Was it so he could get drunk and not worry about being sloppy? So his friends and family could leave early? Both? Let's see how quickly we can do this.
Still Ill is a new band. A new band that has been around for a couple of years. Time doesn't exist. Ricky Reyes sings. His voice is dark and garbled as if he needs to clear his throat. His guitar is thick. The rhythm section of Dom Zappia (bass) and Kyle Herrenkohl (drums) offer some push and keep it loud. Sometimes too loud for Reyes to get his vocals over. Jen K. is the secret weapon. Her guitar moves the band from loud to enveloping. Her vocals add a bit of Velocity Girl art to the band's post-hardcore crashing. Or maybe that just makes the band Slowdive. That'd be okay too.
Did Blood Harmonies say they hadn't played a show in six years? That's what I heard. The set began with no introductions, instead the Lincoln-based trio just stepped right into a twenty-minute set of expansive post rock. Just two guitarists (Nathan Knisley and Matt Martinosky) and a drummer (Caden Pearson). Rumor is the band has a bassist too, but they couldn't make the show. Martinosky offered vocals on one song; the rest remained instrumental. A few soaring leads came from Knisley. There was a profundity of distortion and howling guitar, yet compositions never veered into epic, crushing post rock; instead, most of the set remained as wide and open as the prairie, and just as awesome. Remember Olympic Size? Is this the start of a new era for Blood Harmonies or a one off?
The two acts made sense together. And then that was that. Part two was a different show altogether.
It started with Make No Mistake. I know nothing about the band. Not the names of its members. Not any way to find them online. I suspect it's a new band made up of hardcore veterans. The four-piece delivered crunching hardcore. Chugging hardcore. The type of by-the-book straightedge hardcore that I bought from Revelation Records and broke my glasses to at Wilkes-Barre hardcore festivals. I spent the entirety of the band's short ten-minute set attempting to photograph the vocalist (Taylor?) as he paced from one side of the stage to the other, moving in and out of the single spotlight that lit the otherwise dark stage. The audience went off during the last song. Suddenly the crowd was a sea of windmilling kids. Is this band serious? Because it could be. It could be big.
Burning Bush followed. The Kansas City band is new. It's fronted by Shuttlecock's Aaron Rhodes with Harrison Hawkins on guitar, Daniel Evans on bass, and Ethan Payton on drums. Rhodes shouted into a hand-held microphone while he paced the stage hardcore style, appearing and disappearing from the same spotlight. But Burning Bush is a different style of hardcore than Make No Mistake. Songs are faster. More stops and starts. Hawkins' guitar rings as much as it crunches, and it never chugs. It's less youth crew, but still my youth. Endpoint? Econochrist? More Ebullition than Revolution. Pre-post-hardcore should be a thing, then Burning Bush could be that. The band's five-song, nine-minute set didn't afford much time for analysis, but the foursome is playing out quite a bit now, so I should get a chance to see them again and find out if this paragraph was entirely prattle.
The night culminated with Doldrums. Everyone loves Doldrums. The punks. The hardcore kids. The skinheads. Everyone. I've written about them a lot, and I may have said that they were best hardcore band in Kansas City. The foursome is led by vocalist Jordan Taylor. He's often in the face of the audience, wild and confrontational, but on this night he didn't have to patrol the pit. On this night, it opened immediately, and the dancers did their thing. So instead he confined himself to the stage, staring into that bright spotlight, microphone up, elbow locked, head back, screaming his demons. Guitarist Edoardo "Dodi" Wiemuth was a delight to watch. Not a lot of movement, but lots of power stances and stanky guitar face. Bassist Ian Andreasen and drummer Jacob Ziskind complete the lineup. They're better than they need to be, keeping the band tight and lean. Fast songs open up for half-time mosh parts, and still finish 90 seconds later. We're still waiting for a new album from this crew, but surely it won't be long now.
The show started early, ended early, and I got home at a reasonable hour. I think that's how 50th birthday parties all are.