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Friday March 8th, 2024 at The Brick in Kansas City, MO
Siilk, Khamsin, & Stüp

I'm told that this show almost didn't happen – that the promoter had trouble finding a venue and then lost the one it finally found, and that several band members weren't available and had to be replaced just to keep the date. Maybe the show was cursed. I tried to avoid cracks in the sidewalk as I made my way to the show just in case. I wondered if that wizard in Lawrence was still stalking me.

Stüp (pronounced like "stoop") started the night. The Kansas City four-piece is new. How new I'm not sure. I'm not sure about much concerning the band to be honest. Let's start with the easy stuff. The band is led by Matt Lambird's vocals and rhythm guitar. On this night he was joined by lead guitarist Curtis Chapin, bassist Brett Cox (a fill-in), and drummer Zach Thomas (who is usually the bass player). There. That's everything I know. During a short twenty-minute set I think I heard some punk, some garage, some pop-punk, even a little emo. The band says that they're a rock band. Lambird's vocals are often sung with some rock gruffness I suppose. Chapin offered plenty of leads, but seemed tentative, visually checking in with the other players for cues and clues. Maybe he was coddling the ad hoc rhythm section. No need, Thomas banged on some drums confidently and Cox managed his responsibilities. The last song had some up-tempo bounce. One a few songs earlier was slow and contemplative. Range. Both before and after the set, the foursome where suspiciously (aka genuinely) friendly to everyone they met. Maybe they were trying to counteract the bad juju. Maybe it worked. Keep an eye out for the act. I understand Rino is the band's home base.

Khamsin followed. The band is from Nashville, though frontman Jacob Curry did time in Kansas City before graduating to Music City USA. As such, the band has made KC a regular stop on its tours dating back to the days of Davey's Uptown Rambler's Club. Curry recognized friendly faces in the crowd and called out a few. He also called out some favorite KC bands and venues. Once again, I was unsettled by sincerity. Khamsin started as Curry's solo project before growing to include guitarist Ben Beauchene, bassist Cole Harrison, and drummer Darin Harger. But then the ill wind blew in, so for this show Harrison was out, and Mason Bradley was in. The makeshift foursome didn't miss a beat though. There was lots of energy on stage – especially from Bradley whose kicks and jumps were prominent throughout – matching the verve of the band's dynamic emo. What sort of emo? Well one that came along little after the Mineral shirt Curry wore. There were bits of Midwest emo. Some twinkle. Some taps. But also, some emo pop moments. A few were pitchy and histrionic, but that's just how the genre works. The entirety of the band's 35-minute set was drawn from its 2022 album What's Left of Life? Curry asked if anyone had the album eliciting an enthusiastic roar from the several dozen fans that packed the area in front of the stage. Twice that many watched contently from the cozy booths and tables at the rear of the restaurant-cum-venue. A nice turnout. Maybe the spell had been lifted.

Headliner Siilk stood on stage ready go just before 11pm. Or mostly ready to go. Vocalist and guitarist Jordan Tyler was battling his guitar rig. After a few minutes, guitarist Joel Bennett came over to help. After ten minutes, suggestions started flying from members of the audience. "I bet one of the pedals isn't plugged in all the way," announced one dude to his date. The delay stretched long enough that bassist Damian Escobar and drummer Brady Matthews had played all the Staind songs they knew. After twenty minutes Tyler gave up and settled on a crippled version of his rig that would at least allow the set to happen. He was visibly frustrated. I strained to see if he was wearing the same tiki idol that nearly did Greg Brady in. Nope, that wasn't the source of the night's misfortune.

Or maybe it wasn't a problem at all. When the quartet finally began, they sounded angry and played with intent. Tyler's usual tone was gone. This removed both the rounded tones of its grungy nu metal and the grandeur of its shoegaze inclinations. Now his tone was just rugged and mean, howling and humming without the restraint of a noise gate. "Papaya" sounded particularly pissed off. And I liked it. Tyler's smooth, elongated vocals weren't impacted by the change, but Escobar pushed his screams harder than usual. He also thrashed harder than usual, sending his beanie flying more than once. His kicks (especially in the finale) were vicious and pit worthy. Bennett doesn't do kicks, but they do fall to their knees a lot – especially when pressing their guitar to the amp to sculpt tones.

At the end of the abbreviated set, it was obvious that the dark clouds and parted. Whatever evil that had stalked the night was bested by Siilk and their compatriots in Khamsin and Stüp. That left me carefree as I walked home, stomping on the cracks, walking under ladders, and crossing every black cat that The Crossroads put in front of me.