Summer just wasn't the same this year in Kansas City. Sure it had weeks of oppressive humidity and temperatures that kill, but it didn't have the most summery of all KC bands, The Anniversary. And aside from a few weeks spent recording at Kingsize studio in Chicago, they've been totally AWOL. Before the show I met up with vocalist/guitarist Josh Berwanger who explained the band has been intentionally lying low. The plan; not play out much until their CD debut is released in 2000 on Heroes and Villains (the Get Up Kids' imprint of Vagrant Records) so that the songs will still be fresh when they go out on the road.
I had seen The Anniversary a dozen times before, but there was a noticeable difference this time. The band wasn't loose and entertaining this time, they were contemplative and focused. The set list was made up almost entirely of songs that had never been played on a stage and it showed as the band worked to present the songs rather than letting them flow out effortlessly as it had always seemed in the past.
The band's sound had changed a little as well. There were several new amps, cabinets and guitars on stage (one of which just wouldn't stay in tune) but the change was more than simply tonal. At first listen there were no obvious pop songs in their new set. The songs were more developed, darker and frankly, the band has turned down the Weezer knob generously. We'll all have to wait until the new album comes out and the band resumes playing live, before we know for sure what the latest sound of The Anniversary will be.
I slipped up to the stage between the bands in hopes of getting some usable pictures of Superchunk. As I sat there guarding my claim, I noticed the band's roadie looked familiar. I had seen him on this very stage only a few months earlier as the bassist for Archers of Loaf. Wow what a roadie score! Actually he wasn't just a roadie, but joined Superchunk playing acoustic guitar on several songs that evening.
From the moment the four members of Superchunk walked on stage, it was obvious how they have maintained such a high profile throughout the 90s. They showed the audience, as they have the industry, that they are energetic and confident entertainers who can maintain a connection with the fans while never sacrificing their integrity.
Both bassist Laura Ballance and vocalist/guitarist Mac McCaughan jumped and lurched throughout their entire set making them incredibly difficult to photograph but captivating to watch. The entire band's performance was flawless - not only were they engaging performers but musically dead on, playing a good mix of old favourites and songs from the new CD.
After getting their world tour off to a great start in Lawrence KS, watch for the band to bring indie rock perfection to your corner of the globe.