Saturday October 5th, 2002 at The Brick in Kansas City, MO
The People, & Laredo

The People The People Laredo Laredo [more]

I'm so far behind on my reviews that I'm afraid I'll never ever ever catch up. What's a boy to do? Go to another show!

Around 10:30 I pulled up to the front door of The Brick and asked the kindly doorman what time the show would start. He mentioned it was only two bands (score!) so it wouldn't start until 11:30 (suck!). I sped off on my scooter to try and waste some time. After ten minutes I realized it was cold as hell and I had nowhere to be on a Saturday night in an empty downtown Kansas City. If only my laptop would have been with me, then I could have just geeked out for a while. Instead, I visited the all-night teller, practiced riding wheelies, and then slipped into the warm club.

The club was already packed with cute kids dressed in fashions so hip as to be ugly and ridiculous. Soon Hot Topic will carry them and I'll get used to seeing stiletto heels with bondage pants. Until then, I'll try not to stare too much. I tried to concentrate on my palm pilot and the boring game of spades I was winning effortlessly, but I was luckily saved by a wealth of distraction. Ultimately it was beautiful grrls playing pool, old geezers having it out, once-crusty kids now sheepishly indie, and The Pixies on the PA, who helped me waste an a half hour until Laredo began their set.

Although Laredo's name has popped up a lot in the last few months, I'm definitely not on the cutting edge. From talking to the band, I understand they've been together for about a year and played their first show in January. Where the hell have I been?

Bluntly, Laredo treads no new ground and offers little to the already crowded emo set. While the band played I couldn't help but look back to Jake Cardwell and Harry Anderson and wonder if they recognized the sounds of 1998 Reflector being played back at them with little success. There was also an odd skew to the whole evening that left me puzzled. Maybe I was just out of sorts, but I had the hardest time deciding if bassist John Eastlund was brilliant or dim. The bass didn't provide "base" to the songs at all but rather seemed to lead them, hinting at what would come, or providing some skeletal note that would make sense only once the two guitars (played by Jeff Eaton and vocalist Josh Atkinson) had chimed in. Does he know more than we do, or much less?

However it wasn't the skill of the players that contributed to my Laredo apathy, but rather one of their material. The variation, the hook, the interest was never quite there. Although I must say that a song introduced as "the new song" did genuinely excite me, and so I'm leaving the door open for these guys. The band has recorded five songs for an EP to be released this winter, and I'll be sure to give them that second chance.

The People are also a band that I've never been able to give up on. In fact, I've often told interested parties that I want to like The People so much more than I do. While this ever-hip foursome have the ability to pump out infection pop songs driven by keyboard and quirk, they seem reluctant to make it their full time job. If a band has the ability to sound like Squeeze, shouldn't they? Don't they have a duty?

The show can largely be judged by audience reaction: people bounced and danced while the band played "robots", a keyboard-driven pleaser of jerky Devo-meets-The Faint dis-rap, which hinges on the lyric "They make robots to do what you do." Lovely, give me 10 more.

The audience slowed down for the dense and amateurish songs from the bands first album, and talked through the newer AAA material. The audience (and band) hit rock bottom with "Onward Christian Soldier", a largely a cappella song of soft harmonies and snail pacing. This song just isn't suitable for a bar setting and the audience recognized it.

After over an hour the band called it quits and I quickly zipped off on my scooter. On the way home I thought about the master mix tape I could make from the band's performance: how the bouncing pop could rise to the top, and what a shame it is to struggle at creating depth and acclaim when both are realized in the band's simplest moments, not their most cumbersome ones.