Too Much Rock
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Wednesday July 25th, 2018 at Record Bar in Kansas City, MO
Lemuria, Katie Ellen, & Dusk

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So the photos are bad. I could blame the lights — it's true, the lights are always weak at recordBar — but ultimately, they're my photos and blah blah blah. To right the wrong that I've done these bands, I should have written a detailed account of the show. If not servile, then it should have been at least full of interesting bits, acute observations, and nimble insights. But I didn't do that. So, here's a quick gig recap. Apologies to bands who were much better than these photos and summary would suggest.

Dusk kicked off the night playing to an audience of three or four patrons and a half dozen polite folks drawn from the other bands and the club's staff. Shame. The Wisconsin quintet started hard into alt-country, and even flirted with honky tonk, until vocalist and keyboardist Julia Blair stepped aside to allow bassist Amos Pitsch to sing lead. At roughly the same time, Ryley Crowe abandoned his pedal steel for an electric guitar and, POW!, suddenly Dusk were a country rock band recalling the early '70s output of The Rolling Stones or Gram Parsons. Much to my pleasure (and the benefit of those who arrived late), Blair's sweet twang returned for another number before the band closed out its half hour set.

Philly's Katie Ellen was up next. I'd love to dig deep into the band's pedigree, but, you know, time. Instead know that frontwoman Anika Pyle fronts the emo-leaning indie rock band, stands on her toes to sing, writes direct and honest lyrics, and spoke just as sincerely and plainly to the audience during the band's 30-minute set. Her introduction to anthem-of-sorts "Sad Girls" stressed the importance of emotion, and she gave it to the audience all night — especially during her rare full-voice stints in new track "Still Life". The final song of the night provided another highlight as atmosphere and texture built to post-rock levels thanks to guitarist Anthony TInnirella. Fun fact: the band's touring bassist, Lou Hanman, came through KC playing guitar with Beach Slang not long ago. The more you know.

Quickly now as I fear the plane is starting its descent and I'm starting to ramble.

The weeknight gig ended with New York's Lemuria. The touring quartet had been through Kansas City before, but always in different venues, and never quite in this configuration. Guitarist Sheena Ozzella fronts the band. She's witty and congenial behind the microphone — her banter honed by hundreds of shows in basements and at stage-less VFW halls. But listen carefully and you'll find her quips are actually for her bandmates' benefit. Sure, some conversations were intended for the two-dozen patrons now standing near the stage, but most were purely for the benefit of someone else onstage. Some were intended for drummer Alex Kerns, and although I couldn't see his face due to the bouncing beach ball that floated on a stream of air directly in front of his face, I could hear his amplified retorts. Others were directed at bassist Max Gregor. He also fired back quickly — that is, until his microphone was reassigned to the floating beachball, I suspect to honor its center-stage star power. Far to the audience's left, Tony Flaminio got a microphone too. While generally a non-touring member of the band, Flaminio was out for this leg providing keyboards and various guitars (including several acoustics). Good call, as this added all the necessary nuance to recreate the band's newest material. He used his microphone to talk about peeing his pants.

The band's 45-minute set started off at breakneck speed. All drive and energy and punk and Gregor jumping out of my camera's frame. The tempo slowed as the band highlighted newer indie rock material, continuing its wind down until the band closed with the hypnotic pop and divine harmonies of "I Wanted To Be Yours." Oh, that's why they all had microphones. That makes more sense.

The night ended at a very reasonable 11:15. I could have rushed home and written those interesting bits, acute observations, and nimble insights down, but I didn't. And so this is all you get.