I had established a routine at Farewell, but a cold front and a torrential downpour kept me from sitting outside working on photos before the gig. Now what? I guess I go inside. But that's where I discovered the alternate door and bar staff, providing a second shock to my system. Where even was I? Unsure, I sat on one of the pews inside and started a crossword puzzle in hopes of figuring it out. Thankfully it wasn't long before the opener took the stage and I calmed my brain with very loud music.
I'd never heard Siilk. In fact, I'd never even heard of Siilk. Maybe I'm not good at change. It seems the Kansas City quartet is new, forming (as best I can tell) in May of this year. Musically, the band fits somewhere between post-hardcore and grunge. That's treacherous territory in my book. One step too far into grunge (or worse yet, post-grunge), and I shift from enthralled to uninterested. Turns out the quartet was unconcerned with my preferences, and thus spent the entirety of its five or six-song set yo-yoing from one side of the schism to the other whenever it pleased. Regardless of which side of my imagined divide the band favored, its 25-minute opening set was chocked with dense and anthemic songs. Slack compositions, elongated lines (both vocal and guitar), fat bass, and busy drums created vibes, not hooks. The foursome played most of its self-titled debut EP released this summer, and then tacked a new one on for good measure. It's going to take me a while to figure this band out. I'm willing to put in the work.
Feverest were up next. Before the gig I tried to find information on the band, but I kept running into a defunct trio from Atlanta. Turns out this Feverest is a new foursome from Tulsa, led by vocalist/guitarist Hagen Pavey. He took the stage with his black hoodie pulled up tight over his head with a Dodgers cap only just peeking out. A lot of hoodies were up in the club due to the shifting weather. Pavey's vocals stood out in the mix. They're high, yet nearly spoken. Unfortunately, Farewell doesn't have monitors, and Pavey could have used them. Guitarist Cody Dillingham provided texture in most songs, subtle leads in others, and comfortably joined Pavey's guitar for driving chords to punctuate the more raucous moments of the set. Those instances were also driven by lyrical drummer Anthony Castlebe who caught a complement thrown from the crowd between songs. Bassist Frank Blation completes the ensemble with bass that's never flashy, but always commanding. Together the quartet paints from familiar palettes – emo, shoegaze, post-hardcore. With those colors, Feverest's live set favored vitality and emotion above twinkling, gauzy, or cerebral. I suspect that may not be the case when the quartet makes it into the studio. On stage Pavey joked with his bandmates and chatted comfortably with the small audience. Good guys. Good band.
While the music was as it ever was, Farewell was still different. No one vanished between bands to hang out on the patio, but instead smokers hid under the smallest of awnings at the front door. Every time the door opened, the room would fill with smog. My mask was no match. I tried to hide in the plushy room. It was stacked with guitars and other gear. So was the area by the front door. And the area beside the stage. Later I'd see a half dozen buckets collecting rainwater in the annex that normally houses that equipment. Sadly, the buckets weren't getting the job done, and the hallway that leads to the bathrooms was more puddle than walkway. It's GoFundMe time, folks. Let's starting a building fund to make repairs in the little club that could. And then let's build a covered smoking patio out back with a heater. I'm matching the first $100 in donations.
It was 9:15 when King Pink took the stage. This is relevant as the karaoke crowd were told to turn up at 10. We were now in a race. King Pink is a five-piece from Oklahoma City and the reason I turned up on such a dour night. The band is fronted Taylor Haynes. He set his microphone up in the area in front of the stage that is often the pit. I first suspected he did this simply because the stage couldn't accommodate a fifth musician, but then though maybe he was concerned about the sound and wanted to get deeper into the room. If so, then his plan worked. Although he often had to cup his ear to hear himself better, Haynes passionate vocals sounded amazing. Sure, he'd leave his mic stand and pace (even giving a little kick on occasion) as songs ramped up, but when he needed it be heard, he was. Taylor was backed by guitarist Josh Tassinari (who also offered backing vocals, lots of energy, and hair whips), guitarist Dylan McEntire (who was all smiles and tricky finger taps), and by a bombastic rhythm section that included bassist Skyler Wilkerson and tour-only drummer Cameron Wilkerson. That duo guided the quintet flawlessly from gentle to crashing and back again. Most of the set aligned the band with other emo revival / fourth wave acts, with "Limbo" from the band's self-titled digital-only EP serving as a clear standout. However latest single "Strangers" turned up the intensity, shifting the band's sound back to the second wave for more hardcore propulsion. There's a breakdown about three and a half minutes into that one, which, on a different bill, would have had arms swinging and pits erupting. Back at the merch table I saw some nice shirts, but the band is yet to release a record. Someone should fix that posthaste.
There was a long gap between bands, and it was 10:10 before the headliner was ready to begin. With the race over it was time to declare karaoke the loser because it too now must run on punk time. Thoughts and prayers.
As is tradition, Perfume's set didn't start until after frontman Jamie Woodard called the audience up to the stage. Keep your friends close, and your audience closer? Having seen the foursome at the same venue just a few weeks prior, there were also other elements that were not surprising to me: the band is loud, the band likes its effects pedals, Woodard's vocals are low and buried, and it too crosses that same illusory genre line that Siilk ignored. But there were also surprises. Most notably, the quartet was tighter and more focused than I had ever seen it. Was this a good night for the band, or was I merely starting to decode its dense arrangements that eschew both leads and solos despite featuring two guitarists? Both Woodard and guitarist Anthony Keagan churn, and chug, and sometimes soar exquisitely, but ultimately they arrive at a grunge maximalism that I never embraced. And so it goes – when one song favors Nirvana, I groan, when another recalls Hum, I rejoice – without ever having an idea which songs are new and which are old. I've not even a notion of what might constitute a new song as several of the songs played are slated for an upcoming three-song EP, yet they have been part of the band's live set for a year or more. As you can tell, the band continues to confound me, but I'm much too stubborn to give up.
After Perfume's 30-minute set I slipped out, passing up the chance to wow the crowd with my Joe Jackson karaoke prowess. The show gave me even more photos to edit, bands to decipher, a record to put out, roofing strategies to master, and I now had to somehow come up with $100. All because a cold front blew through, and Shayne wasn't behind the bar.