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Wednesday January 25th, 2023 at Howdy in Kansas City, MO
Sarin Reaper, Giallo, Limb Dealer, & Joust

Four bands played. A total of 60 minutes on stage – less actually performing. That's not enough time to draw opinions, so this will be a "just the facts, ma'am" sort of account today.

Joust started right at 8pm. Five songs in under fifteen minutes. Four players. Hardcore punk. Kat Plank shouts their vocals and saws at a rhythm guitar. Bassist Claire Hannah and lead guitarist Hop Trogdon frequently smiled at each other as they locked into grooves but only Trogdon moved about the stage. Even when drummer Brad Highnam smacked a nasty-sounding cymbal that should have been a call to action, the crowd remained frozen. Someone in the crowd confided to a friend, "This is a pussy crowd," when he couldn’t get a circle pit started.

Between acts, Dino climbed the ladder to pump up the vocals on the mains.

At 8:40 the next band hit. Locals Limb Dealer. It was doom and death and much more. Vocalist Gage P spent the set hunched over, growling into the microphone. By the end of the fifteen-minute set, he was exclusively facing drummer Sam B. Guitarist Miguel Mondragon was also shy, hiding in the shadow cast by his amplifier. He dropped a lot of beefy riffs, but few leads. Only bassist Justin Janzing wanted the spotlight. There's a lot to unpack from this new band, but we won't be doing it tonight.

Between acts Dino played disco. Howdy is an odd place.

9:10 and Minneapolis' Giallo were up. More hardcore punk. Another four piece. Despite a leg brace, vocalist Jake VanKempen was in constant motion: pacing the area in front of the stage, pushing into and up against the audience, somersaulting. Also, lots of screaming and punches thrown into the air. The audience responded. Lots of movement. Lots of fun. The door separating Howdy from the workshop was knocked open six or more times by crashing bodies. The gent who complained earlier looked satisfied now. The bassist and guitarist didn't move though. The touring band's set also clocked in at under fifteen minutes, so I've no idea how the bass and drums played off each other, or if the guitarist was secretly a '90s youth crew kid under the hoodie.

Nu Metal played between bands. The corpse-painted members of Sarin Reaper sang along to Linkin Park, each pantomiming the over-the-top emotion while they set up their gear.

It was 9:30 when Sarin Reaper began. The band's set was a playthrough of its new album – the one it is going into the studio to record next week. Sarin Reaper is black metal – the anguished shrieks of Luke Iliff tell that story as do the blast beats of drummer Bob Corvus and the gurgling bass of Solomon Sharbono. But guitarist Jame Mendenhall sometimes tells a different story. The rhythm and leads are by the book, but the solos are something else. They're positively bluesy, full of lots of bends, and devoid of the lightning that genre purists might expect. It's interesting, and it's good.

Iliff was shirtless, his faced ghouled with corpse paint, his black jeans accented by the usual bullet belt. He paced and circled the audience. He grabbed the throats of those deemed worthy. One of them fought back, and the two tumbled to the floor. The struggle would have been concerning if the two weren't such friends. Despite standard fare, all wasn't going according to plan. Iliff was sick, and every time he stepped back toward the band, he vomited. After the sixth explosion I lost count. The floor was puddles. Thankfully the band's album wasn't longer than twenty minutes or Iliff may have needed IV fluids. But it wasn't, and he didn't, and Iliff was fully recovered when I ran into him at a show two days later.

After the gig, an angry fan decided to have a word with one of the other photographers. That photographer had climbed all over the "stage" to get close to the band, taking lots of stylized shots, each punctuated by a flash bulb. The fan didn't like that. The band, however, did – they paid the photograph for his work. One thing led to another, and soon the fan found the fight he wanted (not from the photog, but from our dancer of earlier note). A bloodied nose (or was it a brow?), a quick push out the door, and the altercation was all over and declared to be a misunderstanding. But that's the real story in case you hear otherwise.