Maybe we've got time for a quick one, you know, for the sake of the streak.
Lincoln's Sweat are mysterious. At least if you're trying to Google them. The four-piece is new, though I suspect it was hatched fully formed. Its players wear years of experience on their faces. In its short 30-minute set I drew few conclusions, but jotted down the following observations: The bass carried a heavy load, working smartly with the guitars. Either guitar might slip in and hold a melody. The drums were complicated and math-y, often establishing a groove only to intentionally destroy it measures later. Vocals were carried by a guitarist, by the bassist, or by no one at all. This is a band of musicians. Those notes do little to explain the hectic indie rock of the band, but one set was not enough for me to wrap my head around Sweat.
Kansas City's Ex Acrobat was in the middle spot. Each of the four guys in the band have a twenty-year (or more) history playing very similar music in Kansas City, which might qualify them for super-group status if that weren't just the reality of our scene. Still, much respect for these lifers. Generally, the band deals in the noisy and aggressive indie rock of the '90s, with vocals that lean emo, and guitars that tilt toward shoegaze. They're warmer than the opener, less calculating. But how was the show? It was okay; energy in the room was low throughout the half-hour set, but the audience remained engaged. After a few shows I suspect that either I'm just missing something unique about the band, or the band is missing some spark to make them stand out. But I'm no quitter, so here's to next time.
The night belonged to the reunited Giants Chair. To misquote Single Mothers, this trio broke up in 1997 and have been playing shows ever since. But this reunion is different — it might stick. The last few months have borne new songs, a new video, a small tour, and talk of a third album. The band's set reflected this second chapter — still focused on classic material, but with new songs integrated throughout. Those new songs feel shorter and tighter than some of the earlier headstrong material, but they're still built on guitarist Scott Hobart's disquieting chords and emotive vocals, Byron Collum's versatile bass that shifts between chords and exuberate note overload, and the very tight drumming and rapid-fire fills of Paul Ackerman. Hobart is an excellent frontman, having spent the years between Giants Chair shows leading his own honkytonk project (as Rex Hobart), honing his audience interaction. But all those years haven't been without consequence, and Hobart's voice did hit a few rough patches during the evening, but if the audience noticed, they weren't bothered.
The band's thirteen-song, 55-minute set ended with "The Speech" from 1996's Purity and Control (Caulfield Records) — it's certainly a fan favorite. Once the feedback subsided, I overheard multiple variations of the "I'm reliving my twenties" nostalgia from different pockets in the club. It's true, of course. The entire bill deals in the music that defined a microgeneration of musicians and music fans in the region. And while there's nothing wrong with returning to your first love, I'll hope for a future that shines as bright as its past.