Sunday June 22nd, 2002 at the Hurricane in Kansas City, MO
My Spacecoaster, Tiny Dot Syndrome, & Getaway Driver
My Spacecoaster have been exalted for their non-stop touring. If other cities see this Dallas foursome half as much as Kansas City, they must burn through vans every few weeks. I believe this is the forth area Spacecoaster show in nearly as many weeks, all of which I believe included locals Getaway Driver. Are the two simply great pals, do they play off one another, is their music that symbiotic, or is there a more diabolical answer looming just under the surface. For the next ten paragraphs I will attempt to answer that question.
The Getaway Driver opened the show in front of an enthused audience of friends imported from their hometown of Lawrence. Although the band has been active for a year, theyve remained just below the radar of local stardom, and have avoided playing Kansas City entirely. What possible reason could they have for snubbing Kansas City? Is there a reason they cant play here? Maybe something medical? Rather than grace stages that allow bands to grace The Pitchs pages, the band seems to prefer the burgeoning house-show scene. Theres something not right about a band not wanting to be rich and famous and told to get off the stage by midnight so the DJ can start spinning.
Close inspection of the band reveals four nice young men that seem to be anti-fashion conscious. Oh, they still care what they look like, or more appropriately, I suppose they care what they dont look like. Emos brown slacks, tight printed t-shirts and generally unkempt shaggy hair rule supreme. Are they trying to blend in with the rest of the college dropouts that inhabit Massachusetts Ave before the sun goes down and the frat boys take control? I wonder what their real skin looks like. I bet its green.
The band is musically a mix of straightforward rock (biggest compliment the band will ever get, but not assume is a compliment: they sound like Tom Petty) and the more passionate members of the herky jerky set. It isnt emo, things move too fast, they come at you too quick, the band jabs and in three-minute intervals they give the audience a dose of excitement. Sure, bands like Saves the Day and Jimmy Eat World are all over M2 (at least!) with similar sounds, but this is isnt quite that. This is that four years ago. When that was still in the basement and when that still meant something. This is still DIY and this is still about four guys in a stinky van.
As the band continues their unwavering dispensation of hooks and vaguely effervescent guitar rock, guitarist/vocalist Stephan Wolfe is noticeably slowing down. As he suspends his guitar at arms length for vibrato, his arm shakes with wear. Soon the earnest fishing cap is hurled to the floor and his brown hair is allowed to stick to his dripping forehead. Later, he explains there is only so much you can endure for fashion. Ahh, I think we have a clue -- fashion is a driver for Getaway Driver.
Separating Getaway Driver from their sibling band were locals Tiny Dot Syndrome. Keeping the two apart is probably appropriate and akin to locking Zan and Jayna in separate cages. I suppose that makes Tiny Dot Syndrome Gleek.
Although vocalist/guitarist Karl Michelbach did exhibit some simian qualities, his nasally voice was more reminiscent of assumed human John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants. With that stuck firmly in mind, all songs began taking on an unintended comic pop tone. The varied influences of the band members (including j. hall from Haloshifter Chris Wagner from The Revolvers, and Michelbach from Danger Bob) seemed evident in the bands music as it careened from pop, to rock, to even a (shudder) alternative hue. Frequent three-part harmonies seemed out of place with the two whirring guitars (usually doubled up upon each other) causing the audience confusion and headaches, and creating oddly smug expressions on the faces of the band. Maybe we didnt get it, and maybe they did. Id feel smug too I suppose.
When their long set was over, I was left somewhat bewildered. What had I seen? Was it smart or pedestrian? Was this really the unholy combination of Thulium and Ethans Revenge? Given the law of averages, Im bound to catch them again and those questions can be answered at a later time. We are still hot on the trail of the Getaway Driver/My Spacecoaster connection.
Somewhere near midnight, My Spacecoaster had beat on the floor tom, strummed their guitars, and testing-testing-one-two-threed their microphones enough to satisfy the soundman and thus began their set. Vocalist/guitarist John LaMonica quickly let out a "Kansas City" in a slight southern drawl usually reserved for phrases like "Hot damn" or "Well doggie." I believe I heard him proclaim "Lawrence Kansas" the first time I encountered the act.
Although I have seen My Spacecoaster twice, they are difficult to remember, and even more difficult to describe. To present a string of possibly unrelated adjectives and mildly descriptive phases: LaMonica jumps around the stage a lot and he sings his lungs out. The entire band is comfortable on stage, like theyve been doing this every night for the last three years; maybe they have. The band trades on established emo and indie rock guarantees. The guitars work well together with nice interplay. There are few surprises. The notable surprise is how enjoyable it is. Like other guilty pleasures (The Juliana Theory anyone?) this band is a lot of fun just dont expect me to admit it in a court of cool.
So what is at the core of the My Spacecoaster and Getaway Driver cohesion? Well, there is a musical connection between the two, but its too loose to mean anything. Indie rock bands playing to indie rock consumers doesnt mean much especially today when Blink 182 can become Boxcar Racer and bring indie to the MTV masses. What seems to mean more is the common approach and ethos the bands share. Both bands have made an obvious commitment to the independent scene and each is eager to contribute to its health. Following, somewhat disappointingly, the mystical connection I was looking for isnt there. My Spacecoaster and Getaway Driver seem to have joined for no other reason than they are sure that each other are real. Sometimes that is the only thing that matters.