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Sunday September 24th, 2023 at Howdy in Kansas City, MO
Screen Door Submarine, Broken Record, & Pink Phase

Red Alert! Red Alert! Speedrun only.

Pink Phase is a lot of things and nearly all of them are awesome. The instrumental three-piece includes Iona Dewalt who provides guitar and keyboards. Sometimes her guitar lines are clean and bright. They're sung in a Steve Vai sort of way. Really. Sometimes she plays grungy chords that collapse under their own weight. It's a dichotomy I don't understand. Sometimes she adds keyboards. Blipping accent synths happen alongside the guitar or longer, soaring and serene keyboard lines replace the guitar in a like-for-like substitution. Leland Williams's bass never takes the main stage. When he dropped his pick during the set and resorted to playing with his fingers, suddenly they popped in the mix. Interesting. Drummer Baily Keling is always heard. She's a busy drummer. Lots of fills. Lots of movement. Occasionally beating the hell out of a marching band-sized kick drum with a double kick pedal. The 35-minute set contained most of the band's debut EP, and a good chunk of new songs that sound studio ready to me.

Broken Record from Denver were up next. Classic DIY move, putting the touring band in the middle. The band is indie rock. Unless they're emo. Or post hardcore. Or pop-punk. You get the idea. The band exists in the middle of them all, playing structured songs with solid hooks and great energy. Lauren Beecher sings in a strong and confident voice, but the house PA couldn't get her up over the amps when the band was really rolling. And while there were dynamics, there was also a lot of gusto – a pleasing amount that bests what was captured on band's new album, Nothing Moves Me. Bassist Corey Fruin wore a Codeine shirt. While the band never slowed to that pace, he did provide heavy downbeat drops that felt familiar. His backing vocals weren't Codeine-like in any way though. Beecher's rhythm guitar was bolstered by touring lead guitarist Larson Ross. Often the two pounded it out together, though Ross did play some nice leads and solos where he thrashed about the stage. Pedals color the tones of both guitars. Drummer Nick Danes is a hard hitter, but there's something simple and pure about him that reminds me of Jesus and Mary Chain. I know that makes no sense to you. That's okay I don't understand it either. Together the quintet rocked through a quick 25-minute set that gave the small crowd a show, while still recognizing that the band was playing to an audience of only ten. I hate it when bad nights happen to good bands.

Screen Door Submarine topped the bill. The trio is young and impetuous. And very good. After a quick soundcheck of Blink-182's quicker "Built This Pool," the band launched into a set decidedly less pop-punk but with just as much impish youth. Tricky math lines call out Midwestern emo, but there's not much dreamy shimmer about the band. This is Midwestern emo when hardcore and Chicago chaos still played a big part of it. I'll say Cap'n Jazz again. I won't stop saying it until they record a cover for the Singles Series. But kids aren't into vinyl, so we're all screwed. Vocalist/guitarist Zach Bloomfield has a fragile voice when he sings quietly, and a fabulously monstrous scratchy one when he opens up. Bassist Raymond Little has backing vocals. And interesting bass lines that run all up the neck of his bass and sometimes include percussive elements too. Jordan Supplee is a tight player on his drums but offers a bit more swing in his cymbal work. He fought his double bass pedal after each of the first few songs, leaving plenty of time for the relaxed banter of Bloomfield and Little. Little may have been beyond relaxed, or maybe that Spicoli perma-grin is genetic. That didn't keep Little or Bloomfield from stomping, dancing, and thrashing about the stage with an abandon that far outpaced the movement that came from the audience. We're not worthy!