Wednesday November 29th, 2000 at El Torreon in Kansas City, MO
Elevator Division, Casket Lottery & Nymb
I got back from the Thanksgiving holiday on Monday and tried to get my head back in Kansas City. If only Indianapolis had a scene, it'd be a lovely place to live. Their downtown is so damn alive with shops and restaurants and things. Kansas City, well, Kansas City has a downtown, but unless you work down there, you've probably never needed to visit. Anyway I'm digressing but the important element is that when I looked at my show calendar to see when the next good show was, I gasped as the next good show was mine. Ooops I hadn't flyered for the show at all and it was like two days away. Flyering with only two days notice is barely worth it but I hit the hot spots in KC, hoped for the best, and expected the worst.
I got to the club around 6:30 and hoped to find the bands ready to load in. I made sure to pick up a few pizzas thinking that if no one shows up, at least I can host a pizza party in a cold, empty warehouse. Unfortunately word had already been sent ahead to club manager Brian Saunders that the several of the bands wouldn't arrive until around 7:30. That left nothing for me to do but sit around and hope people would show up luckily they did. Actually like ten folks beat the bands into the club; a good sign in a sick kinda way I suppose.
Nymb showed up first with The Elevator Division in quick tow. Although when I booked the show I knew nothing about the band (other than the information I found on the website which didn't even include working sound files there). I just figured if two good bands want to play with them then they couldn't be too rough. Luckily I, along with the rest of the "Show Me"-state-skeptics, were treated to some well planned, and well executed, emo-leaning indie rock. The Chicago foursome carry the flag sewn by Ashes in the early 90s including Elaine Doty's strong female vocals over driving rhythms and crunching guitars interleaved with slow ballads (although less Alternative and more AAA than the progenitor). After the show I spoke with band and found out they have a CD recorded and are currently shopping it to labels. If the CD is as compelling as their live show, I'm sure they wont have any trouble finding a taker.
Six of the prompt ten came up to me during Nymb's set begging for The Casket Lottery to play next. Since the kids bothered to show up on time I figured I could oblige them; I just hoped all of The Casket Lottery's fans wouldn't leave after they played (as they are sometimes want to do). The band quickly set up and again played a most professional set of mostly new songs. Its hard to find enough superlatives to describe the band's performances they are tight, and definite entertainers without appearing to pander to the audience. Although shows at El Torreon often don't have the glitz of a "concert" or a rowdy crowd (a.k.a. drunken) of a bar, The Casket Lottery are always on.
The Elevator Division quickly came to the stage using The Casket Lottery's amps. This was the first look of the new leaner line up after the departure of former vocalist and keyboardist Joseph Hoskins. Guitarist James Hoskins has taken over the vocal duties of the band shifting them from overly soft and flowing to blunt and clipped. It seems only a song or two have survived from the band's debut CD released less than a year ago and even then the songs have been radically reworked. Without the keyboard underpinnings, the band's new material isn't nearly as lush or thick and although the wiry guitar is still there, it seems somehow more straight forward and expected. Furthermore the always-obvious bass work now seems less appropriate and the new rocking drums lines seem haphazard. The band's music no longer recalls Primary-era Cure but contemporary loose and noisy indie rock. They have updated their sound and yet somehow sound less original. The band will have plenty of time to refine (or simply discover) their new sound, let's just hope they take that time to do it.