Saturday January 19th, 2002 at The Bottleneck in Lawrence, KS
Milemarker, Santo Gold, & The Plot to Kill the President

Milemarker Milemarker Santo Gold The Plot to Kill The President [more]

First I'm going to start out by bitching about how I had to bust my balls to make it to this early show at the Bottleneck, and then I'm going to talk about how early shows are so much better than late shows. You'll want to pay close attention so as not to get lost.

First, the balls: Zach stopped by in the early afternoon to pick up an old computer I was donating to his cause (cause he wanted it I think). We listened to good music, played some guitar, laughed at some bad music, and it was your typical gag-a-minute jolly time. As he left at nearly 3pm he mentioned he'd like to get together at Rudy's before the show for a slice. I'm all about food. Food and a fat kid are tight let me tell you. I'm actually getting kinda hungry while I type this. Hold on, I got some donuts in the kitchen. More on that later too.

Anyway as he was walking out the door he mentions it's an early show. How early? 6pm early. So with only a couple of free hours left to fit in my day, Dana and I hopped in the car and headed out to run the sort of weekend errands that one does. Somewhere about the time I was in Wild Oats buying 1.62 pounds of carob covered peanuts, I thought a 6pm time on the website really means a 6pm door with a 7pm show right? I relaxed a little and after a few more free samples of smoked Gouda we drove home at merely a quick clip.

As soon as we got home I called the Bottleneck and Jackie confessed that 6pm probably means 6:30pm. Great, a half hour to feed the dogs, feed Dana and myself, clean up, and walk the dogs before hauling ass to Lawrence for rock. Oh my, is this even doable? Why would Jackie do such a mean thing to me?

So yeah enough build up, it's doable and we walk into the club and hand over the $12 just as Adam Mitchell and the rest of The Plot to Kill the President begin their first song. The audience is young; it's an all-ages show; that can happen. This early show was forced by a double booking to allow Ultimate Fakebook, Creature Comforts and Podstar to play to the grown-up crowd later that evening. That's okay though. In the early shows the audience isn't drunk and swerving yet, the frat crowd isn't there ignoring bands in favour of skirts, and no one is yawning. Best of all I'm able to see the show, dine, drive home, and then get an evening's worth of work done all before bed. Sometimes it's tough to remember that before indie rock annexed the scene shows always started early because kids had to be out by 11pm. Now shows start at 11pm so bars can keep patrons drinking in the house with live music until closing time. Damn if there isn't always something in the scene to bitch about.

Which of course brings me to The Plot to Kill the President. Although the band seems to have been born squarely from DIY, hardcore, and political protest, their sound is favourable enough to land them frequent gigs at the buy-another-round Bottleneck. Is this a band taking their message of revolt to those who need to hear it most or are they just a band looking for bodies to play to? Either way, in the last few months the band has aged wonderfully and their newer songs continue to be more elabourate and thoughtful. The immediacy and angst of singer Adam Mitchell is balanced wonderfully by the more post-hardcore leanings of guitarist Mark Sanders. Hectic drumming from Tyler French and spotlight-worthy bass from Clint XXXXX keep my attention shifting from player to player as each element piques my ears. And if my ears don't deceive me, the band seems to be moving more towards the dense and dissonant screamo genre. What are a group of activists doing in a genre that is proud to serve as the last refuge for howling romantics done wrong? I'm unsure, but I like it.

Dana (bless her soul) was exceptionally bored by TPTKTP so I grasped and promised her things were looking up with Santo Gold. This band pays direct homage to bands much more mainstream I insisted. "Listen, you'll hear Gang of Four and Wire in there!" I still don't think I'm reaching her.

Luckily no one else needed convincing and the audience snapped to attention when vocalist Kelsey Richardson began the set by shrieking "Can you give a brother a hand?" With that the band bounded and lurched and twisted its way through a half hour of post-punk. Quickly Santo Gold is becoming my favourite local band and with a pop sensibility, a dry wit, and an incredible sense of urgency to lead them, I'm sure I'm in good company. I hear a split release with Salt The Earth is planned though I'm desperately trying to snag them for a URININE release.

Another band and still Dana sits. I was pretty sure at this point I had lost her and the days of her joining me at shows were over. Still I persisted and attempted to sell her on the dazzling visuals that were sure to follow when Milemarker played. I related a story of how they played my garage, how the neighbors were alarmed and the police were alerted but it was no use. I escorted her to a seat with a better view and walked back to the front of the stage.

Some years back someone on a message board was complaining that The Faint had stolen their light show concept from Milemarker. Well ironies abound and Milemarker no longer travels with the host of strobes and spotlights that I had attempted to sell Dana on. They have however lifted a page from The Faint's old playbook and began their set with two crashing and pulsating synthesizers, a powerful fuzzed guitar and a bouncy dance beat that forced the trading of puzzled looks among the hardcore kids in attendance.

Nearly all of the material in the set came from the band's last two releases. This means synthesizers are an ever-present affair although the weight they carry varies considerably from song to song; there is no constant. The band can be seen as an amalgamation of all sounds thick and heavy while still remaining oddly energetic. Furthermore bassist Al Burian's cathartic vocals seem created merely to clash with keyboardist Roby Newton's cold vocal delivery. Ultimately the band's set contrasts aggressive darkwave-inspired anthems with sprawling 70s metal (think Uriah Heap) and more straightforward hardcore energies (the persistent old-school fans were rewarded with New Lexicon).

Even after the buzzing amps were shut down and everyone had a time to decompress, I don't believe there were many conclusions drawn. Afterwards as sat at Dunkin' Donuts enjoying a French Cruller and a Bavarian Kreme, I knew I'd be at the band's next area show, but I still haven't decided if I should wear my dancing shoes or my combat boots. Milemarker seems to bank that they are one and the same.