In Kansas City you can be too young to get into the bars and still feel like an old timer. By the age of twenty, you've seen every musician in the DIY scene play in three or four bands, every band go through four or five line-ups, and you've seen them play at two or three DIY venues successively operated by the same person. On this night, four local bands would assemble to raise funds and awareness for KC Tenants. Each band was new, yet each was comprised of familiar faces and playing at the latest iteration of a DIY venue.
I'm not sure how the show was supposed to start, but when Omaha's Nowhere had to pull out due to COVID, one of the show organizers, Jonathan Patrick, decided his Dilettante project could serve as an appetizer. That band's lineup has changed a lot during its one-year history, and it appears that Patrick may be the only current member of the moody and experimental project. He opened the evening explaining that his gear was generating unexpected feedback, so he'd pare the stage show down to just his guitar. It was considerably more than that. The first song featured Patrick's Dylan-esque vocals, shifting electric guitar, and an atmospheric foundation built live with the use of effects pedals. A second track followed where the looped portion now included the lead guitar, the live guitar was positioned against its amp for controlled feedback, and Patrick stepped behind the drumkit to accompany himself. I can't draw any conclusions about the act from this solo eight-minute set, but I suspect its reputation for psychedelia may stem more from the trippy experimentalism of The Velvet Underground, and less from the orchestrated pop of The Electric Prunes and that ilk. Stay tuned to find out what's next for this band.
Nightosphere followed quickly with a short set of its own. The band deals in extremes. Quiet moments of reverberating bass, sparsely picked guitar, gentle cymbals, and high breathy vocals are lulling and beautiful. Then the band turns, Claire Delaney stomps on a pedal, Brittany Sawtelle screams, Dekota Trogdon smashes his drums, and the room is stunned. The trio has been in the studio a lot recently working on its debut, so it may not be a coincidence that it sounded so tight, or that both Delaney's and Sawtelle's vocals sounded stronger than ever. It also likely the studio time has allowed the band to perfect the new slow and enveloping number that it introduced into its set alongside three or four other songs that we've been hearing for the past few months. The band continues to amaze me, and I've got its next gig circled on my calendar already.
Between acts, KC Tenant organizer Gabe Coppage was invited to the stage to introduce the non-profit, request donations, and sign up members. The union's fight against rising rents and ruthless landlords resonated well with the Farewell audience, and by the end of the benefit the show would raise $700 for the effort. After Coppage's spiel, it was back to the bands.
Punk acts come in many flavors, and Weaponize Chomsky has one of the stranger taste profiles in the scene. Sam Caballero sat on the floor with a modular Moog, generating noises that buzzed, pulsed, screeched, and grated. He screamed vocals that sound like slogans into a microphone duct taped to an expensive camera tripod. With that as the foundation, Judah Relly added bass guitar as well as his own shouts. How the two worked in tandem was hard to discern for a first-time listener. Maybe they didn't. Maybe they shouldn't. Recent addition Reece Jackson added acoustic drums. He looked intent at best, pissed off at worst. He was fun to watch. As with the other musicians, his intersection with the rest of the band was minimal, though his simple and direct playing would occasionally catch Relly's and the two would build to something akin to a groove. Then Caballero might instigate a shared vocal chant before his noises threatened (menacingly and with intent) to tear the jam apart. There's a lot to unpack with Weaponize Chomsky, doubly so in its chaotic live incarnation. This may take a few gigs.
The night ended with Magic. The band is terribly new, with only a show or two under its belt, though as with the other acts, its members come with plenty of pedigree. The band is quick hardcore punk built up from Ian Teeple's full-tilt drums, and the bass of Kat Plank that landed punch after rattling punch. Diyana's guitar was (pleasantly) all over the place, with quick-changing power chords, complex and ugly broken chords, and catchy rock & roll-grade leads all popping off – sometimes within the same song. Angel's low vocals were shouted and tucked into the compositions nicely as she paced the stage brandishing a heavy sword. Yes, a sword. At times she slipped into the crowd where she was met by a dancing and bouncing fem-friendly audience. At the end of the short set, Teeple sent his drums tumbling to the stage, only picking up the floor tom to bring it into the audience where it was then brutalized like a bongo until the feedback subsided.
As I packed up my camera, I replayed the show in my head, trying to cement in the details of the night, trying to remember when I first saw some of these musicians perform, and running a mental inventory of all the other bands they are, or were, in. I suspect most mid-sized cities are this way – a smallish pool of players constantly reconfiguring themselves to chase the mood or energy they're after. Still, I can't imagine the complexity that would be the family tree of just these acts, much less the broader scene. Just thinking about it could make anyone feeling old.