This was actually my first time at the Grand Emporium. By admitting that I may have just lost me some friends at The Zone (Kansas City's local music forum) who have been promoting local shows there every month for almost a year. Honestly though there just weren't many shows that appealed to me. I probably would have gone to this show even if Wil from Lushbox hadn't asked me to come take some pictures of their new line-up, but that certainly clinched it.
I saw Ethan's Revenge open up for The Hillary Step a few months back and I wasn't wholly impressed, so my expectations were pretty low. However when I was walking to the club at 9:20 and heard the band starting their set, I wondered where that snappy indie pop was coming from. The first three or four songs in their set were all well crafted pop songs that made good use of their three guitar line-up, Specifically vocalist/guitarist Paddy handles rythym, Sal's clean guitar plays the rock and rock leads, and 'Rock and Roll' Dave's guitar isn't very rock and roll at all but usually coated in swirling effects and accented by great use of his tremolo bar.
Their set had tightened up considerably since I saw them last. Gone were the neo-prog and most of the pop-punk songs that stuck out, but there was still plenty of garage rock in their set that keeps them from being tossed in with all the indie rock darlings of the scene well that and a cover of Judas Priest's Living After Midnight. The audience loved it though and the band got a good response from an audience that I never would have guessed would have supported them. That is a lovely sign of a building scene in Kansas City.
Fifteen Minutes Fast are a new band for me and I'm afraid I know very little about 'em. They do have a CD and a recognizable name around town so it seems I've just missed the boat. Unfortunately this first time I saw them, the most memorable part of their set was the technical difficulties. Specifically a bass rig that wouldn't cooperate making the set long and disjointed and keeping the band from getting into any sort of rhythm. Also because they are a three piece with both bassist Rob O'Toole and guitarist Mark Anderson singing, there is no obvious frontman to help push thing along.
The good news is their songs are well executed power pop with standard song structures that are easily likable. Although there are occasionally duel vocals, more often Rob and Mark each sing their own songs creating two different versions of the band which is a bit confusing.
Lushbox thought they had played their last show at the River Market months ago, however vocalist/guitarist Brianne Grimmer and drummer Wil Plunkett are back replacing bassist Heather Grimmer with Brit Smith and guitarist/vocalist Brad Huhmann with Rob O'Toole [remember him?]. Fans don't need to worry though, neither the band's sound, nor their setlist has changed much.
The band's reputation has always been built on their clean and powerful pop defined by Brianne's sincere vocals. Those elements are still as solid as ever although I was a little disappointed with Rob's vocal parts and I thought the interaction between Rob Brianne was a little flat (especially on Judo Chop). Those elements were offset by Brit's bonus backing vocals (Heather didn't sing) which added a whole new interest to the band's sound.
After looking around the club I discerned the house rules must state that fans remain seated, preferably as far from the band as possible. Although the audience enjoyed Lushbox's set, only a dozen true-blue fans came to the front of the stage. Kansas City is such an odd town.
The band finished their set with standard closer, Steven Rides the Short Bus, and despite calls for an encore, turned off their gear. I stuck around and watched after the band had left the stage everyone but Brianne, she stayed behind and started wrapping up cords. Soon her parents walked up to the stage and Brianne asked them how the show went. It was like a little kid calling 'Mommy look' before performing a non-trick. It was so cute I just had to leave.