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Friday March 15th, 2024 at Hillsiders in Kansas City, KS
Still Animals, Pet Mosquito, & Kool 100s

This is my busy season. For a few glorious weeks in March, Kansas City is awash in rock & roll as bands come and go from SXSW. Of course, attending nonstop shows means that I'm a bit behind in my coverage, so we're gonna need to make this a bit of a quickie.

Kool 100s kicked off the show at 10pm. The three piece continues to line up as John Larsen (vocals/guitar), Sam Leimer (bass), & Ike Ah-Loe (drums). They continue to play fast. It's punk, maybe cowpunk, maybe garage, maybe just rock & roll. The band dedicated a song to the just-passed Mojo Nixon and that oughta tell you everything you need to know about that. A lot of the trio's short twenty-minute set was instrumental. Ah-Loe used the space to play tons of fills on the smallest kit you've ever seen. He's chaos. Leimer, however, is stoic. His face didn't change once as he worked up and down the neck of his bass. Larsen didn't feel the need to put on a show either. If the audience wasn't entertained by his power chords played as fast as he could play 'em, well, another band was coming up next. Of course that's not an issue. Everyone loves Kool 100s. Everyone.

Between bands Bazooka Joe spun records as the Go-Go Muck. Just dirty dance floor jams from a pre-punk sweaty past. The man knows his tunes.

Pet Mosquito from Carbondale followed. The band is fronted by Everett Dillon (vocals/guitar) who plays alongside Evan Hall (guitar), Jessie Groniger (keyboards/trombone), & Berget Borowitz (drums). The band is punk. And also garage. But it's made up of DIY misfits who don't care about genres. That guitar didn't stop, which is good because those keys were lost in the (lack of) mix. The 25-minute set was hectic and loud and big. And there was a little giddy-up in some of the songs. Dillion was a dervish, moving to and fro while shouting and raving into the microphone. Borowitz was fun to watch too. She's a head banger. But like the long-haired, whip it around, metal-style variety. Groninger got a turn on vocals. Effortlessly cool I tells ya. The band ended by pulling Bazooka Joe up to the stage and strapping a guitar on him. Somewhere in there Dillon stage-dived into the crowd. The stage is 6" tall at best. He aimed low, diving into the crowd ankle high and wiggling around on the bar floor. I should write tons about the band, but I can't. Brevity. So hopefully they return soon so I can write that novel.

The night ended with Still Animals from Saint Louis. The foursome just put out an excellent album on Slovenly. It's some punk. Some rock & roll. Some garage. Maybe even some pub rock. But it's not so sleazy. The band didn't look scuzzy either. I suspect its members are even housebroken. The act lines up as Lee Todorovich (vocals), Gabe Karabell (guitar), Jessica Karabell (bass), & Francis Hunt (drums). Todorovich was active. Moving about a lot. Finding his way into the crowd. Planking between the stage and the bar. Going face to face with audience members for confrontational staring contests. Complaining that some people stayed outside in the "shed" rather than coming to see his band. And offering vaguely political banter that matched the band's vaguely political songs. That's the funny part. On Slovenly you'd expect songs about rock & roll, late night inebriation, and girls, but Still Animals delivers songs about the importance of human connection and disconnecting from technology. Rule breakers! Of course, no matter what Todorovich sang about, Gabe Karabell delivered plenty of wicked rock & roll licks as the rhythm section ensured everything was falling forward. The band's ten-song set hit nine of the songs from the album. Each of them sounded better live than on the record. The night hit its climax at nearly 1am with the rollicking "High Dive." It was the brainless punk clarion call that crowd needed. Come back soon kids, and don't worry about the guys in the shed. They'll know better next time.