Wednesday March 24th, 1999 at The Bottleneck in Lawrence, KS

Dub Narcotic Sound System, icu, Miranda July, & Kicking Giant

I thought this show might sell out so Vanessa and I arrived just a tad after the doors opened to get tickets. We took a quick look around, noticed there were only 20 people in the club, and then headed over to Rudy's for a pizza and a search through The Pitch for band opportunities.

We arrived back at the club around 9:15 and visited with Rita and Vince. A little after 9:30 Kento stopped DJing and sat behind the drumkit . Tae Won Yu strapped on his guitar and K.G. played a quick 15 minute set. They sounded good, and made a real connection with the 20 folks up front, but the set was just too short.

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Vince told Nessa and I of his legal troubles while Miranda July set up several projectors and screens on stage. I really liked the MJ album and had heard good things about her show earlier that day from a friend who saw her at SXSW so I was definitely interested.

She started off with a long interesting piece that seemed to hold everyone's attention, then a short audience participation piece pulling a couple of folks up on stage but that really bombed. The final performance piece (or songs as she referred to them as) was shorter and a little less enthralling. What I enjoyed about her albums was the level of enthusiasm in her voice(s) and believability of characters. It was much harder to get that same effect live and I wasn't terribly impressed with the show though you have to admit it kicks ass to be doing something different from the norm.

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icu (pronounced ick-ew I learned) began carting equipment up on stage - an upright bass, a keyboard, turntables, guitar, theramin, and a sequencer. I enjoy their CD and wondered how they could pull it off live. Sadly they really didn't. The thick production of the studio album suffered as they played the songs live. With the exception of Aaron on bass, watching them was like watching an EE student work on their senior project. It was largely Kento leaning over the turntables with one ear to the headphones and Michiko chain smoking and playing an occasional note on the keyboards. There were some great moments in the set and Kento showed us how talented he is whether as a DJ, theramin player, guitarist or drummer (in the case of the other two bands). I think the audience was getting restless by the time their long set concluded with a song from the Miranda July/icu record coming up. Unfortunately they used her sampled voice rather than her joining them on stage. A real disappointment there.

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Finally Dub Narcotic were up. Calvin came up front with an acoustic guitar and told the crowd that Heather (another Beat Happening alumnus) was feeling ill so they would have some fill-in drummers. He started with 3 acoustic numbers (including Ambulance Driver Blues) over some light drumming. The crowd was aching to dance though so Calvin brought up the rest of the band with Kento playing drums and worked through a short set of their funky dance numbers, occasionally grabbing a new drummer from the pool of K musicians there that night. The set was a little short but everyone was dancing, especially Calvin who has to be the best/worst dancer ever. The show ended with 15 or so folks up on stage dancing with the band - most of them will not dance again until DNSS returns.
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