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Tuesday May 31st, 2022 at Farewell in Kansas City, MO
Holy Locust, Stud Count, & Doldrums

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There were 100 reasons to stay home. There always are. Some of them are good. Still, you should probably just go. Actually, you should definitely go.

When I arrived, I discovered that the three-band bill that turned into a four-band bill after a double booking, turned back into a three-band bill after a cancellation. The lineup now consisted of a local hardcore band, a touring punk rock band, and a touring folk punk assemblage. The promoter didn’t know what order any of them would play. He said it didn’t matter much to him. I guess it didn’t matter much to me either, I just like knowing. He did say the show would start at 8:30, and that was information I did want. I had a half hour to kill. The fenced in gravel “garden” behind Farewell is not particularly inviting, but all outdoor space is much appreciated during an airborne pandemic. I spent the short delay out there listening in on conversations, scanning the crowd of oogles, aspiring Instagram models, and tattooed hardcore kids, and wishing I had brought my book.

At 8:15 Doldrums got on stage and started making noise. The pit quickly filled up. It was a false alarm sound check, but it reminded me that this was the sort of show where I’d need to keep one eye on the stage, and one eye on the pit. For someone with only one eye, that prospect is daunting. I wedged into the corner where stage and wall come together and prepared for the onslaught.

From the first roar, the pit sprung into action. Dancers moved from one side of the stage to the other. Most skanking or picking up change, one high-kicking like a Rockette, some rolling somersaults, one crawling on his belly like a soldier moving under barbed wire in basic training, and one repeatedly leaping into the air playfully attempting bite the others. That last one was a dog that was unaware of the rules of the game, but enjoying itself all the same.

Doldrums may not have made up the rules, but they’re adept at playing by them. After some early trial and error, the band is now a straightforward hardcore powerhouse without the need for genre modifiers. The same sort of hardcore that destroyed stages during CBGB matinees in the mid ‘80s. There are breakdowns and mosh parts in every song except for the fast songs where the entire song is a mosh part. Jordan [no last name] fronts the band. Despite his rail-thin frame, he’s a menacing man who is undoubtedly kinder than he appears when pacing the stage or stomping out into the audience. No youth crew jumps or histrionics. No diatribes between songs. This is Crumbsuckers hardcore not Youth of Today. I saw no X’d hands in this pit. For most of the set, guitarist Edoardo “Dodi” Wiemuth is merely foundational. He runs through the shifting powerchords, keeping double time with bassist Ian Andreasen and drummer Jacob Ziskind. But occasionally his talent shines through in the form of a quick melodic lead or solo that knocks the wind out of you. That’s the sort of thing that is going to sound amazing when recorded but is superfluous to the dancers with failing limbs. Something for everyone.

Stud Count from Philly drew the next straw. This is the band that got me out of the house despite the tornado watch. The pandemic-born quintet is only a few days into its first tour. Like most pandemic bands, that means they already have a demo and an EP out, and a full-length recorded for release next month. And again, like most punk bands, Stud Count is a recombination of folks from other bands. Seems odd to call kids in their mid-to-late twenties lifers, but that’s our scene.

The band is fronted by Norelle Green. The band’s bio says she’s a model. Checks out. Someone else in the band is a hairdresser. I need to be in a band with a hairdresser. I’ll see if I can work that into the wanted flyer next time. The two-guitar quintet is punk rock with plenty of rock. Maybe even with power-pop intentions. Songs are short, get to the point without much frill, and, in the case of the best songs, big on melodic hooks. Somehow the band ripped through twelve songs in not many more minutes. After playing the ultra-catchy “Willow” from the Pleasure Center EP, Green alerted the crowd that the next four songs were faster, offering “you’re welcome to side-to-side.” I’d never heard it called that. But sure, why not. She then added “this one is for the girls.” There were few side-to-siders, but soon there were plenty of girls dancing. All bands should specifically invite the ladies into the pit.

There was a long break before the nomadic Holy Locust started. It felt like the show fell apart. This was, after all, a band added to the bill only after it was discovered that they had been booked on the same date by another promoter. Publicity was limited. The audience unsure. And the band looked feral. During the change-over, I stayed in the emptied bar, sitting on a pew, and working on tomorrow’s crossword puzzle. The six members of the band worked with the sound man for a while. I thought the point of folk punk bands was that they needed nothing but a street corner near a tourist destination and a cop with better things to do than hassle them. Why was this taking so long?

I found out in the first song. Holy Locust is less a folk punk band than an Americana chamber pop ensemble. There was elaborate orchestration between Kate Elko’s cello, Noah James’ fiddle, and Bob Ayo’s bass. This trio added post-rock elements (if not outright neo-classical ones) to the more traditional stomps, strums, and shouts of resonator guitarist Summer Newman and banjo player Aydin Sabala. The accordion of Jeff Sevier colored things continental – infusing folk melodies from Spanish fiestas and Eastern European beer halls. The sextet was lively, and soon the audience grew from what was a few serious fans and a handful of curious onlookers, to dozens of dancing and stomping and shuffling punks. I was one of them.

At 10:50 the show was over. Holy Locust loaded back into their converted short bus, Stud Count left to stay with a local friend, and Doldrums likely returned to their squat on the lower east side (of Kansas City). On the way out the door, Jordan thanked me with a fist bump, adding to my supposition that he’s probably not a serial killer, and reminding me that there are always 101 good reasons to go to the show.