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Monday November 27th, 2016 at Harrison House in Kansas City, MO
Kitsch Cred, Clearviews, It's Okay to Feel Alone, & Together Like Buffalo

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It shouldn't take longer to read about a show than it did to see it. With that in mind, this account should be a short one.

After some confusion and a battle with cheap gear, the all-local evening began at 8:30 with Together Like Buffalo. For fifteen minutes, ragged emo vocals whispered out from the makeshift and monitor-less PA systems while two guitars stumbled into each other over a disjointed rhythm section. When the band attacks, the speed and urgency unites the foursome, but when the music slows to a plod, warts are highlighted and the band's songs only trudge forward without bounce or energy. The best days are clearly ahead for this young band, and a fifteen-minute set is hardly enough time for any definitive judgement.

Despite rumors of outraged neighbors necessitating an early night, there was no rush as the next band set up. The half-hour intermission left me to ponder the Harrison House basement, the overpowering smell of cat urine, and the trash strewn throughout the backyard. As punks, when is apathy the appropriate response to a situation, and when should we strive to make our world better? The residents of this house were clearly in the Let's Lynch the Landlord camp.

It's Okay to Feel Alone began its disjointed half-hour set by announcing that this would be the band's final show with its current vocalist. While the band will carry on with the same name, I'm told a shift is will happen, pushing the band deeper into shoegaze, swapping in a new female vocalist, and introducing a (needed) second guitarist. Was the momentous nature of the show responsible for the drunk (at 9:30 on a Monday night) band members? I don't know, but the flowing beer resulted in, among other things, a surly bassist fumbling with tunings, and unforgivably long pauses between songs that wrecked any hope of flow. Those potholes noted, the quartet were still surprisingly adept and nimble. IOTFA's emo set was peppered with skillful mathrock and twinkling finger taps that nestled nicely into solid compositions. Apart from the by-request sloppy cover of Vanessa Carlton's "A Thousand Miles," the young basement band from the Kansas suburbs was surprisingly solid, piquing my interest enough that I'm looking forward to the band's rebirth performance.

This was a homecoming show for Kansas City's Clearviews, and while it didn't draw the audience of IOTFA's (semi) farewell performance, it had something only touring bands deliver — precision. In this case, I'm not referring to how "tight" the band was, but rather the band's professional gear, quick set up, excellent flow, and the ability to get the job done without fooling around. Call me smitten. Stylistically, the quartet didn't stray far from the emo and shoegaze elements of the band before them, however Clearviews' songs grew organically to also incorporate explosive hardcore elements. Unfortunately, the aforementioned PA couldn't lift frontman Jacob Garrett's vocals above this blast, but what I caught didn't feel frail or reserved. Rather, there was intent in his delivery. Garrett and fellow guitarist Joel Bennett produced some nice moments of interplay, though neither offered the sort of mesmerizing, virtuosic, finger-tapped gymnastics of the evening's previous band. This bargain of flair for power planted just enough doubt to keep me from picking up a copy of the band's new CD (sold at the show, despite technically scheduled for later release), though I reserve my right to change my mind on that one later.

Whether intended from the start or the result of a last-minute scheduling decision to placate neighbors, the evening would end with a quiet, acoustic set from Kitsch Cred. The band is the project of Jacob Garver and Austin Pierce, although on this night Garver would go it alone. Confessing that he prefers short sets, Garver played only three songs. Despite a brutish powerchord-only delivery, each song had a different feel: from the pacey opener that recalled the folk-punk of Ghost Mice, to the final number that highlighted Garver's raw vocals as he achingly examined the suicide of a friend. The small audience comprised entirely of friends already knew what to expect from scene-staple Garver; still there are short sets that offer humility, and then there are sets that just too short. And for a band with so much to say, Kitsch Cred's set was just too short.

UPDATE: It's Okay to Feel Alone has since changed its name to Leg Day