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Friday September 16th, 2022 at Farewell in Kansas City, MO
Remain Sedate, Doldrums, Sarin Reaper, & Carrie Dairy

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What do a keg of root beer from Iowa, the Missouri Abortion Fund, and four local bands representing the disparate genres of punk, black metal, hardcore, and metalcore have in common? I had no idea, but it was a Friday night, so I went to Farewell to find out.

The evening began with Carrie Dairy. One gangling high school kid with his guitar and a phone full of backing tracks. He fought with the phone, starting the first track five or six times before getting it right. During his struggle he confided, “This isn’t going well.” But then it was. He played dozen or more short punk rock songs. They were simple, raw, catchy, and I loved them all. Just one kid up there, sawing away on power chords until his fingers bled. Literally. I heard Electric Eels and GG Allin in his songs. I doubt he would though. Allin died 13 years before Dairy was born, and the era they have in common was another 13 years before that. Thankfully Dairy’s songs aren’t transgressive shock rock. They’re about how much he hates geometry (and he has some strong feelings about algebra too), how his girlfriend doesn’t like The Beach Boys, and about the various grudges and frustrations that happen when you’re a teenager. He played a couple of covers, including “Surfing U.S.A.” (because Dairy does like The Beach Boys) and another by a band I didn’t recognize that his friend “Jace” was supposed to sing. Jace didn’t show up until Dairy was playing his last song. Dairy quickly grabbed him, castigated him in front of the audience for being late, and then played one for Jace to sing. It wasn’t the highlight of the set. Dairy worked the audience quickly between songs as the phone automatically moved from one song to next without any assistance. It was entertaining and endearing. At the end of the 25-minute set Dairy apologized for the “shitty show.” I wish all sets could be that “shitty.”

The staged turned over quickly for Sarin Reaper, but only drummer Bob Corvus and bassist Solomon Sharbono used it. Guitarist Jame Mendenhall posted up on the floor, yet kept his back to the majority of the audience. Vocalist Luke Iliff made the most of a twenty-foot microphone cord and paced the room. He was like a dog on a chain with audience members creating an arc just outside of his reach. He was still able to scream his vocals into the faces of the audience. Of course, his screams and guttural groans are unintelligible whether they’re used for lyrics or banter between songs. Sharbono occasionally offered enigmatic song titles as well. His voice is darker, more traditionally black metal. But Sarin Reaper doesn’t worry about tradition. The quartet routinely pulls from crust and other genres charting their own course in extreme metal. In new song “Final F*ckin Breath,” Mendenhall played bending bluesy leads that certainly didn’t come from the Gorgoroth playbook. In other songs, tempos dropped to create grooves rather than simply assault. But make no mistake, the band is still plenty punishing. And more punishment was on the way.

After an unexplained forty-minute break, Doldrums were ready to go. Like Iliff before him, vocalist “Jordan” took the microphone into the crowd. He’s tall, thin, and menacing. His vocals are shouted in a tight cadence that mimics the rapid beats from drummer Jacob Ziskind. The band is classically hardcore, and its set was rife with breakdowns. The audience was amped. Overly so. Several dancers turned into crowd killers, putting hits on bystanders, and earning fists as a result. Between songs, Jordan addressed the audience in the earnest way that hardcore bands often do. From my hiding spot I couldn’t hear everything he said, but I did listen as he explained the show was a benefit for the Missouri Abortion Fund and then dedicated the next song to those that have had their bodily autonomy stripped away from them. In the end, the band played for only twenty minutes, yet delivered ten songs – nine of them unreleased with only “Thick Head” coming from the band’s 2021 demo. The new material is more focused, with less noisy excesses and more pointed attacks. The arrival of guitarist Dodi Wiemuth has a lot to do with that. His playing is clean, moving the needle ever so closer to thrash and away from punk. Contrary to my general tastes, that’s a good move for the band and the next release should be amazing.

Between bands, I stood outside in the fresh air. The crowd killers were the topic of the hour. Everyone agreed that someone in the pit was going “way too hard.” Then there was discussion of someone in the club who had been previously accused of hitting on an underaged girl. I’m not sure if an agreement was reached on that one. I slipped inside where an eight-gallon keg of root beer was tapped for those who made an extra donation to the Missouri Abortion Fund. I think I got the last cup. I took it out back to savor. The courtyard was packed. Packed with people I hadn’t seen in the main room all night. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around that one, but I guess with a PYWC venue, hanging out in the venue is the new hanging out in front of the club.

The night ended with a set from metalcore act Remain Sedate. Sometimes the smallest shifts in microgenres make a big difference. The quintet has its roots in earlier band Altered Beast, and this project was once known as Crisis Actor before settling on the current line-up of guitarists Dakota Hollenbeck and Max VanTilburg, vocalist Will Boyer, bassist Cary Thrasher, and drummer Mat Shanahan. Boyer set up his microphone in the middle of floor, again forcing the audience to build that large arc around him. But unlike the previous frontmen, he made no aggressive trips across the floor, nor did he engage in audience intimidation. In fact, he often didn’t even face the crowd. During the set, dancers occasionally crossed the pit, working side-to-side, but the violence seen earlier had faded. Instead, lots of heads nodded in unison to the crushing downbeats. It wasn’t always easy, as the band’s mid-tempo three-minute songs shifted quickly to accommodate multiple movements, allowing for pleasant ringing guitars to abut muscular chugging ones. This variety hit its apex during final song “Kink Shame,” from the band’s 2021 album Unwell. In under three minutes it had all the above plus an atmospheric halftime portion defined by a picked guitar lead and clean singing from Boyer that contrasted his normal gruff roars.

After Remain Sedate concluded its short set, I packed up my gear and took stock of the evening. I think I figured it all out. Disparate genres draw disparate fans. More fans mean more tickets. More tickets mean more cups of root beer consumed. And all of this meant $1200 was raised for the Missouri Abortion Fund. That’s a Friday night well spent.