April 3rd, 1999 at The Bottleneck in Lawrence, KS
Lollipop Sauce, The Higher Burning Fire, The Get Up Kids

Kansas City isn't exactly the spring break capitol of the world. However finances didn't allow for Cancun, so Vanessa's younger sister and a friend came to spend their vacation with us. As you can guess there isn't a whole lot to do in Kansas City that you can go back and brag to your high school friends in Indiana about, so I thought it would be neat to take them to The Bottleneck. After all in Indiana you have to be 21 to get into bars so this is a new experience for 'em. Unfortunately Mary Ann (the friend) was only 17 and this meant a little scrambling to get her in.

A little scrambling turned out to be showing up 4 hours early and hoping in the band would let her in the backdoor. Turns out 4 hours early is a bit too early for bands to be loading in and the club was still dark. The shops were closing so we just walked over to Rudy's for our traditional pre Bottleneck meal. After another delightful pizza we tried the club again around 7. Still no bands loading in so we slipped in to shoot some pool before they were checking ids. Turns out ya gotta be 21 to be in the club before 8pm and we were forced to split. We headed over to Vince's house to waste some time playing made-up card games and video games on Adam's Playstation before heading back over to the club at a few minutes before 10.

Adam had a connection in the club and so Mary Ann got in without too much hassle. As an added bonus we were found one of the last booths. Although the show didn't sell out, they did remove several of the tables to make room up front.

Vanessa tried to talk serious with Vince and Pepper while the grrls were getting really bored waiting for the first band who took the stage about 40 minutes later. The band mentioned they were having trouble finding a name but decided that night on "Lollipop Sauce". So be it. Lollipop sauce was Danny Pound from Vitreous Humor/The Regrets on guitar and vocals with a second guitar and a snare drum being added by members of T-Shirt/The Subrosa Band. The songs were open and strummed and had a singer/songwriter feel to them... but worse. A few songs were interesting in a lo-fi acoustic kinda way or had a nice 2nd guitar solo but many were boring and others plain silly (the opener entitled Tootsie Roll Up My Butt was a real winner.) Danny smiled warmly and worked the crowd well and the 18 or so folks who came up front, but general reaction wasn't too keen, especially from the frat crowd which were starting to show up.

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Next was The Higher Burning Fire featuring John Anderson on drums from Boy's Life and other local big names of yesteryear (or so I was told - I wouldn't know). They set up in a circle facing each other bringing an assortment of lamps from their parents' houses (surely no self- respecting indie kid of his mid 20s would have lamps from an Avon catalog!) placed on their sheet-covered amps. I suppose it was supposed to be a comfortable living room feel and to an extent it was. The band were a quiet, introspective and generally delicate blend of acoustic or clean electric post-emo. In fact there were times when new REM circa Everybody Hurts came to mind. Pepper though more like Matchbox 20. The songs were well written, well performed but they lacked real hooks. If you like the new Chamberlain this band may be for you as well. They played a long appreciated set to a crowd you normally don't see at the Bottleneck - I mean they wore cowboy hats and weren't being ironic.

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The grrls were real bored at this point and even Pepper was complaining and starting to heckle the bands. I was beginning to wonder if I goofed by bringing 'em and hoped that The Get Up Kids would do something for 'em.

When the band started setting up I noticed something different, a keyboard. That wasn't there last time I saw them and behind it was James from Coalesce. That wasn't there last time either and it worried me a bit. Turns out that James has been in the band for a month or so. I'm always the last one to know about these things. (*Smile*)

Their set was about half new songs, and half songs from the album. Everyone seemed to have a really good time, and the band played much better than the last time I saw them (in fact, they announced they were more-or-less sober this time and apologized for their drunken last gig at the Bottleneck.) Jim' s voice was bothering him and so his vocals were a little weak but speaking he sounded horrible so maybe it was a Mel Tillis type thing. The keyboard ended up not playing a very big part in the songs and they generally only smoothed out the crunchy guitar parts that I never thought needed smoothing. Only the last song used the keyboard as an integral part of the song.

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As the show ended I began assessing the added keyboard and I decided I didn't like it. First our scene already has a dynamite indie pop band with keyboards and lovely layered guitar dynamics in The Anniversary. Second, the keyboard didn't do much for the band, and what it did do really was contrary to the things I liked about the band. And finally James already has a keyboard indie pop outlet called Reggie and the Full Effect that does quite nicely if only in the studio. James does have good chemistry with the band and its nice to see them including a friend in their success, but I'm old and grumpy and don't deal with change well so, of course, decide for yourself.

I picked up a Reggie CD from Second Nature for $10 on the way out the door and we headed back to KC. I got the review from the grrls in the car who did like really TGUK but hated the first two openers. My review was a bit more leveled out, I was glad to get a chance to hear the openers even if they didn't do much for me.