Sunday July 7th, 2002 at The Hurricane in Kansas City, MO
Getaway Driver, The April Switch, & Mortimer

Getaway Driver Getaway Driver The April Switch Mortimer [more]

Scooter club rides start at 3pm; unless, of course, they start at 9pm. That’s a lot of time sitting around a hot garage listening to two-stroke engines rev, and hearing about the renovations and restorations and customizations that each owner insists will happen when they get the money. So due to that very late start and a flat tire (thankfully not mine) on the ride, I didn’t get to the Hurricane until 10:20. I hate showing up late.

After walking in on locals Mortimer, I started to question if late wasn’t a blessing in disguise. In the twenty minutes of their set I did catch, I witnessed a young band (who have been playing together in various incarnations since they were fourteen) playing uninspired pop punk and soulless emo. In their best moments they shamelessly stole from Blink 182 and in their worst they muddled through boring and cobbled ballads. When guitarist Ryan Bisel attempted leads he often fumbled the notes and when he stuck to power chords the songs were dull. A seven note vocal line dominated each song that, in itself, wasn’t so bad; the dread came from watching vocalist/unsuitable front-man Jake Hood perform. Most of the time Hood stood painfully stationary, and even when he did move it was hokey, contrived, and forced. I can only assume the music didn’t move him any more than it moved the audience.

When the first band has set your expectations so low it’s easy to be impressed by the next. The April Switch was luckily enough to draw second on the bill so any praise they receive might be over-rated. With that caveat, let me now place the word on the street be that The April Switch has great potential. Guitarist/vocalist Ryon McDermott writes excellent pop songs with curious hooks and tops them off with a high, slightly nasal voice that reminds me of Darren Hayman of Hefner. In the band’s poppier moments they forced my Converse All-Stars to wiggle delightfully and the corners of my jaded mouth to rise. In those moments second guitarist Garon Ferierra (also Mortimer’s bassist) played charmingly simple four-note leads or sustained keyboard-esque whole notes to tie the songs together. In those moments I thought I had fallen in love.

Although I’d like to report it that it was all sunshine and roses, the band does have a darker side. The April Switch has been together for only a year and they seem to have some identity crises to deal with. On occasion a nasty pop-punk, power-chorded monster would raise its head and the bouncing pop would be lost in a wash of loud guitars and over-anxious drumming. Nearly any band can be loud, it’s being quiet that takes talent. When The April Switch understands that, they’ll receive my obsequious praise no matter whom they follow onto the stage.

Headlining the evening of area bands was Getaway Driver playing their second show at the Hurricane and second show in Kansas City in as many weeks. There are several other accounts on the site explaining how this band straddles the lines of rock, power-pop, emo, indie and even pop-punk so there’s no need to go into that; the music on this evening was as advertised.

While the last show at the Hurricane had caught a weary band coming off of tour, this time audiences were treated to a more energetic, and ultimately focused, set. The zest the band initially releases upon their audiences is startling at first — certainly more than you’d expect from an indie band and their genre full of shoe-gazing back-to-the-audience introspection. Guitarist Brad Lewis leads the group in aerobic prowess, constantly bounding about the stage. Although he frequently has backing vocal duties (he is the band’s lead screamer) they are often delivered from whatever locale on stage he happens to have landed, with little attention paid to microphone placement. The other members try to keep pace but each is anchored to some degree leaving them only the ability for quick arm swings, legs that dance in place, and big smiles. It’s obvious how much this band enjoys what they are doing, and obvious how much they enjoy doing it for an audience.

Finally, for those looking to commiserate, I’ll relay the final events of the evening: During the band’s last song Steve Wolfe’s broke a string and hurriedly moved for his spare guitar while the band kept time in a slowly collapsing holding pattern. Within moments Dave Newton’s bass became unplugged and the source of that silence eluded him for nearly twenty seconds causing the song to further dissolve towards nothingness. At that point many bands just call it quits. I mean it’s the last song; you wrap it up and salvage dignity and quick scurry off the stage. However there is an informality to Getaway Driver’s performance that allows them to always be playing for friends in a relaxed, living room environment. They felt no need to worry about saving face.

Wolfe eventually reappeared with his spare guitar sans strap. Scrambling to get things going again, he pulled a stool up to the microphone and attempted to rev the song back up from his reclined position. Even while sitting Wolfe was in constant motion and he soon realized the stool would not afford him the mobility he required. To remedy the situation he casually set down the guitar and stood up taking the microphone with both hands. At that point the band graduated from a young band with two reluctant vocalists (remember they originally had a lead-singer who left the band over the winter), to seasoned rock and roll performers with a capable front man to carry them in a pinch.