Too Much Rock
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Monday March 18th, 2024 at Farewell in Kansas City, MO
Punchlove, Still Ill, & Admin Reveal

Once again I overcommitted myself. I went to too many shows. Took too many pictures. Stretched myself too thin. Left no time for writing about bands. It happens a lot. In fact, it's happened from day I launched this thing nearly 30 years ago. There's still too much rock. So we'll make this a speed run.

Admin Reveal opened the night. The project was born in San Diego but after relocation and fortification, the act now calls Kansas City home. It even trades in our current obsession – dense rock lifted by whammy bar shoegaze. While other locals start with nu metal, or noise rock, or even hardcore as their base, Admin Reveal has opted for structed indie rock. Today Lance Rutledge (drums) & Ethan Sawyer (bass) provide that core, allowing songs to stutter smartly and to tease the audience with false endings. Guitar leads came from Noah Rolf, though Nick Inman occasionally ditched his rhythm role for notey sojourns as well. Rolf was loud. Too loud. Too harsh and clanky. The mix wasn't right. I pushed in ear plugs and tried to rebalance the band. Inman voice similarly struggled to find the right volume, the right timbre, and sometimes the right note. Between sets he seemed nervous, eventually offering "I really don't have much to say." No need to say anything, just hit us with those tunes that balance trippy and tricky and we're in.

Still Ill followed. The band is one of my favorites in KC right now. Ricky Reyes leads the band. His rhythm guitar and his vocals define the foursome. The first is thick and comforting, while the latter is slow and round, fitting soundly in the pocket created by his cohorts. Kyle Herrenkohl is an insistent drummer, always chugging along, always pushing, and never coming up for air. The bass lines provided by fill-in bassist Chris Kinsley (Arson Class and many others) are buoyant, even melodic. Jen Kean provides lead guitar as well as occasional vocals. Her guitar draws listeners through the sonic haze and often mimics traditional backing vocals. Whatever you think you're hearing, look closely to be sure, those guitar lines are wily. Kean said a few words between songs, Reyes said even less, and the band only played twenty minutes. Five enthralling songs delivered on the dimly lit floor in front of the stage, and then the (metaphorical) curtain came down.

And then there was Punchlove from Brooklyn. The foursome brought lots of gear in, first covering the stage in pedal boards and samplers, and then loading additional effects that overflowed to the floor. Unexpectedly the foursome became a fivesome when another member set up his video rig in the middle of the club's floor (in what is typically the pit). Then it was time to play.

The band lines up as Ethan Williams (vocals, guitar), Joey Machina (guitar), Jillian Olessen (bass, vocals), Ian Lange-McPherson (drums), and "Viz Wel" (visualizers). Williams, Machina, and Olessen traded instruments frequently. Everyone a bassist. Everyone a guitarist. Everyone building the chiming shoegaze. Williams and Olessen both provided vocals, often overlapping each other. Machina didn't sing. Or face the audience. They just swayed while picking arpeggios, their back to the audience, creating a canvas for Viz Wel's live projections. Olesen occasionally triggered beats on their sampler, augmenting Lange-McPherson's analog drums. There was a lot to see. A lot to take in. Too much. And it distracted me from the tunes. How did lush soundscapes veer into glitchy noise so quickly? What inspired twinkling guitar to suddenly howl? I don't know. My head was spinning trying to make sense of it all. Thankfully the band has just released its debut album Channels via Kanine records, and fans can revisit that if they need help figuring out what they saw because, obviously, this speed run is of no help there. Just too much rock, what more can I say?