This show was supposed to be at the Hi-Jinx lounge, but at the last minute I got an e-mail from T. Jay in Cup 388 who told me it moved. My town and I don't even know about these things! He gave me a number to call to get directions to the show the morning of the show so luckily I was able to find my way to the new location, Harry Jr of The Reflector's house.
Harry was definite about a 7pm show time so I thought I was pushing it a little bit when I arrived at Harry's family home at about 15 after. Turns out, as we all know, the show wouldn't start for another hour. I was essentially the first one there, at least that wasn't in a band playing that night. Harry's dad had made some popcorn and purchased soda pop for the show goers and all the furniture had been moved out of a parlor and a living room to make room for the rock show. The hardwood floors were already taking a snowy beating and I was thinking about what a wreck the house would be afterwards. I guess it didn't bother Harry Sr. though as after the show he just pushed the couch back into the center of the room and didn't worry about the floor.
First up were Collapse from Manhattan Kansas (the home of Kansas State).
They are a four piece with two guitars sporting a pretty typical Kansas
City sound, a very dynamic emo sound. The crowd of about 35 seemed to
appreciate them but I'm guessing they hadn't been together too
long as there just wasn't that extra oomph in their song writing
to take them over the top to make their songs catchy or memorable. They
played a pretty long set for an opener, that was plagued by drum kit
Next were a couple members from Appleseed Cast who performed three
acoustic numbers. Unfortunately it was dynamic electric guitar parts
being played on acoustic guitars; bar chords just don't sound the
same on acoustic, and acoustics tend to rattle when you play them as
hard as you would an electric. The crowd seemed pretty split with about
25 folks sitting on the floor listening quietly and enjoying it and
another 25 folks milling around or smoking downstairs.
Cup 388, from Wisconsin, were up next and played a tight short set.
Cup 388 are a four piece consisting of guitar, bass, keyboards and
drums with vocals being handled alternatively by the guitarist and
bassist. They were pretty loud and unfortunately over-powered the
small PA making the vocals difficult to hear. That's sad though as
the vocals are very ornate and nice to listen to each waver and dip
in his tone. They played the song from the Atmosphere Only Gets
You So Far comp which made me happy.
After they played I helped them unload and introduced myself to the band. We had been talking via e-mail for some time trying to get together for a release on my label, URININE, and by the end of the night we pretty much cemented the intent if not the actuals to be involved.
Traindodge, from Norman Oklahoma, were next and I was interested in
hearing them. They also had talked to me in the past about a release
and I somewhat blew them off based on the cassette demo they sent me.
Vanessa however liked the demo more and suggested we do something with
them. I should have listened to her. The older-than-average three piece
took the stage for five songs of pure energy and intensity. They were
fantastic and I think it actually embarrassed Cup 388 when they saw
how good Traindodge were and what a great show they put on. They are
dynamic and familiar enough to get the emo kids involved but they are so
damn heady with jazzy breakdowns, odd time signatures and arrangements to
make the most jaded math or prog rocker take notice. Hopefully I'll
be able to convince them to do something on my label though I did hear
they found someone to put out their debut 7" which will be out in
March of 99.
Before locals The Reflector took the stage (or rather the parlor), I ducked down to the opium den. Harry Jr has pretty much been allowed to run wild with the house (it didn't appear there was a woman's decorating hand involved) and he really did that with the basement. There were blankets covering the walls and ceilings and doors and a number of chairs and couches lining the walls all facing toward the center of the room. This is where the smokers were hanging out, but also were all social interaction was really taking place. I sat down there and talked with folks until Reflector started making noise upstairs when most of us migrated upwards.
The Reflector are a bit of a schizophrenic three piece playing a very
intense emo at very loud volumes as well as softer more intimate parts.
Dynamics are nothing new to the genre but this band takes them to extremes.
It seems a lot of the town really digs em and 50 or so folks packed
in to check them out. I enjoyed them, however I just don't think the
songs are that incredible. They are a young band so I'm sure they
will only get better.
After a moderate set from Reflector they passed their gear to The Casket
Lottery who played a quick unannounced set. I've seen this local
threesome a number of times but they seemed to be better this time. The
songs are much less Jawbreaker and much more Casket Lottery than they used
to be with a thick dynamic and catchy rock sound. The slightly thinning
crowd seemed really impressed though.
It was approaching midnight when Grovel took the stage. Again a local
but I had never seen them. I had heard them mentioned with the Kansas
City heavy weights so often on the radio though that I guess I dismissed
them as the typical alternative bar rock that cities foster. I was wrong.
First off Grovel are a 5 piece featuring three guitars, a 6 string
bass and drums. As you can imagine the sound is very thick and very loud
with three guitars. The layered songs and excellent leads reminded me
of the Foo Fighters at more than one occasion but the third guitar
(playing through a luscious Mesa Boogie combo) was totally off the wall
playing not chords or notes as much as sounds. It added a Sonic
Youth-esque punk artiness to the band.
The crowd picked up for Grovel and a new demographic seemed to emerge from now where. Suddenly a largely female mid to late twenties bar crowd appeared for Grovel. They looked very out of place at the high school kid's house show but I'm sure no one worked to make them feel that way.
After Grovel I headed back down to the opium den where I found Harry snuggled up under the covers on the floor with a couple of grrls and a space heater. I wasn't the only one taken aback, and it became quite a spectator to watch the expressions of the smokers as they headed down for one last cigarette. Best of all was Harry's dad, as he opened the curtain and saw his son under the covers with two grrls, his eyes got big and his head jerked back then he said in a slow and lecherous voice "Alright!". It was lovely.
I said bye to folks, reiterated with Jason from Cup 388 that we would do something soon, wished them a good drive to Oklahoma City and headed home a little after 1am.