After telling Vanessa for 8 months that she needed to see Grovel, I finally convinced her to come to their last show. Better late than never. Being the ageist ass that I am, I was happy to see a real live grown-up crowd instead of the normal 16 year old crowd. I was also happy to see that Gee has continued to spruce up the place with furniture and it is starting to get homey (for a warehouse). Vanessa and I claimed a couple of recliners and a table in the name of URININE Records and set up merch camp. No one ever guys in Kansas City, but I always try.
I think everyone would have preferred for Grovel to play alone, so Fed by Ravens received a chilly welcome when they walked up. The band was wearing black shirts, tight black jeans and fat white belts looking a lot like Sweep the Leg Johnny. They announced they were from Minnesota rather than whatever is said on the flyer, thanked everyone for coming out [as if they had anything to do with it] and started off with a few loose, fast, screamy numbers that didn't really do much for me. I stepped back from the stage and sat down with Vanessa when suddenly they started sounding better. Song structures started to come through and an interesting winding second guitar bit start to become more apparent. Still I thought they sounded like Sweep the Leg and when the singer brought up a saxophone I think I was justified. When they finished their set after 25 minutes they had won over most of the crowd.
Up next was Avondale. I hadn't heard them but they get good press, they play shows with bands I like, and they have a nicely designed CD so I assumed the best. Unfortunately they were metal- and not the kind of metal I enjoy, but a mix of commercial alt rock and high-voiced mid-80s metal (not hair, think more Celtic Frost). Although I there were moments I could really appreciate (the drummer's voice worked much better for me) generally they were a bit of a chore for me to get through and I even fell asleep during their set. When I woke up to applause my hat was no where to be found. I asked up front if someone turned it in but noone had. I assumed I just lost it taking pictures and when the lights came up I'd find it.
Vanessa didn't want to nap in the club, so as Reflector started their set she headed out to the car and I headed to the stage with my camera. I cursed as Jarad had the lights turned down knowing my pictures would come out like shit. Bah! They started out with Blue Skies from the new 7" and played a very solid set. However everyone was there to see Grovel and nothing the band could have done on stage could have changed that.
About 70 people were gathered around the stage as Grovel set up. Looking back I guess they were getting their yelling spots picked out, because the crowd seemed to determine the setlist for much of the night. Grovel seemed to understand though and played even the older, more straight forward songs that they hadn't played in years..
Most of the band seemed to be in pretty good spirits although the break-up of the band really hit Keanon hard. Several times he approached the mic to thank the fans or ask them to sign a notebook he brought. He seemed to be tearing up through the entirely second half of the set actually. The entire set was very emotional, as the band really did pour everything they had into the show.
Grovel ended with Wide Open a wonderfully cathartic song of Keanon's that brought the guitarists together screaming into the same microphone. As the song ended Keanon collapsed to the floor pressing his guitar into his amp sending to backwards. He continued, and then rocked back pulling the strings off while enveloped in a howl of feedback. When he couldn't make any more noise, he gathered his guitar, pedals and chords and stacked them methodically on the fallen amp to try and make some sense out of it.
Although Keanon and I never really got along, I still felt the urge to go give him a hug as he walked off the stage. I smiled as a tearful relative (his mother?) ran over to hung him, and laughed when he was hugged by a 15 year old grrl exclaiming how much the band rocked and how she had never seen them before and then begged Keanon to play The Star Spangled Banner. Despite Keanon telling her he had no strings on his guitar and he didn't know how to play it anyway the grrl persisted and Keanon in what was a very emotional night, sat in an absurd conversation trying to convince an over-zealous teen admirer that it just couldn't be done.
But back to important things; the lights were up and there was still the matter of a missing hat. I checked where I was sitting, around the stage where I took pictures, and at the front door but found nothing. I asked at the snack bar and the grrl working there mentioned she saw some folks kicking it around earlier and thought she saw it on the floor of the grrls' bathroom. I had her check and voila hat returned. I guess someone isn't a big fan of a "sXe" hat.
Dirty hat on head, I made my rounds to the other band members telling 'em how nice the show was and how neat the energies were etc. but it was late and Nessa was asleep in the car so I called it a night and headed home.