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Thursday March 7th, 2024 at Minibar in Kansas City, MO
Teri Quinn, Ione, & They're Theirs

This is one of those Kansas City shows. A show where both the bands and the fans have known each other forever. Most cities are like that when the niche gets small enough. Occasionally it feels stifling, but there's always a warmth in that familiarity. Mostly, shows like this just feel good.

They're Theirs opened the night. The band name has a history I'm not sure of, but I suspect it started out years ago as a Chase Horseman project quickly surrendered to more pressing efforts. A few months ago, I saw Horseman play a set under their own name backed by familiar faces – bassist Sky Cowdry and drummer Ian Dobyns. Tonight, that same crew was back, this time called They're Theirs. Is there a distinction? Maybe. This set did sound very different from the previous one, but I'm told that this set also sounded different from any prior They're Theirs set as well. In the ensuing years, old songs have been scrapped and new ones are being written. For 35 minutes the trio tried on these new hats and toyed with their new ideas. Horseman started the set on a twelve-string electric tuned to a sort-of open G. When asked, they explained the inspiration was a little Jeff Buckley and a little Keith Richards. We heard those open chords. Ones that rang but didn't jangle. And we also heard quickly picked solos that were chaotic and tuneful. I seem to forget how good of a guitarist Horseman is between every show. To continue the sonic experimentation, Horseman swapped his guitars throughout the set. One song featured an intriguing jazz modulation. Afterwards Horseman confessed it was a mistake. Bob Ross would call that a "happy accident." Cowdry followed Horseman most of the night. He even swapped one bass for another chasing tones. Or maybe the change corresponded to songs where Cowdy played with his pick versus those where he played with percussive fingers. Thankfully Dobyns kit survived the entire set despite the heavy hits it took. Most of his lines sounded simple even when they weren't. It's hard to say where the trio meet. Somewhere in a nuanced indie to be sure. Tracks were mostly quiet, yet still mostly rock. There were moments of sonic explosion alongside moments of quiet, gutting introspective emotionalism. I'm not sure what They're Theirs is, but everyone in Kansas City is going to find out.

I said the show was about Kansas City. And it was. But borders are nebulous, and musicians are itinerant. Ione's Anna Taylor knows this. She's not from here, but she knows Kansas City and its bands, and this wasn't the first time she had played with Chase Horseman. For this tour, Ione was only a duo, with Taylor joined by electric guitarist Evan Kaler. The two have been collaborators for half of their lives. That much was obvious. Taylor's voice is strong and clear with a bit of blues coloring. When playing a song that she wrote while in Muscle Shoals, her twang rose to the forefront. Taylor is from Iowa but lives outside Omaha and is in the process of moving to Chicago. She's a bit of a rover. She confessed the duo format was terrifying, and then elaborated that the intimacy was too much and the exposure too intense. The crowd politely made it worse. They were respectfully silent as Ione played, and just as quiet during the breaks between songs. Kaler was too, only smiling in acknowledgement when Taylor would reference him and their shared story. Maybe he's shy, too. Maybe it's something else. But what I could tell was that he's a fine guitarist, able to carry songs that are normally fleshed out by a full band without every losing the thread. He picked with his fingers during sparse pop numbers, he strummed with a rhythmic frail on Americana ones, and he played chicken scratches that added a boogie when the songs leaned rock. And that's what the 25-minute set delivered – an intimate and honest performance that shined through multiple genres. If you're curious about the band, I see they have a headlining set coming up at Knuckleheads soon. The crowd there is gonna love them.

It was only 10:00 when Teri Quinn took the stage. Quinn was once a Kansas City transplant, but now they are a part of the fabric of the city, collaborating on sorts of musical and other artistic projects, playing any genre of music, contributing to important causes, and supporting other artists off the stage as well. Of course, that versatility means there's no standard Teri Quinn gig and nothing one should expect. I was tipped off that Quinn's current project was "different." Isn't it always? For this incarnation, Teri Quinn has assembled a supporting rock band featuring Landon Hambright on guitar and backing vocals, Carly Atwood on bass, and John Gass on drums. The Gothic Americana that often pours from Quinn and their banjo is tempered by these players. There are less witchy moments than found in their solo sets, and less spooky atmospherics than their work in their previous band Abandoned Bells. But those spirits weren't completely tamped out. The quartet started with "Little Coyote." It's a folk track that dates back at least as far as 2018. It's a slow and plaintive banjo song with a crippled gait. In the song, Quinn's voice moves from a low meditative state with a hint of vibrato to a bright summoning one in a high register. It also howls, inhabiting the titular coyote. Themes of animism appear frequently in Quinn's work.

Throughout the set, Quinn shone. I've never heard their voice sound so good, so it rightly remained the focus of the compositions. At the edges, Atwood added structural fingered bass lines to support the band's big dynamics, while literally hiding in the shadows. Goss played with brushes, adding an appropriate shimmer and mystery to his otherwise straightforward lines. Hambright was the most obvious influencer. He contributed curious and unexpected dub parts to many of the songs. I'm not sure how, but it worked. He also liked big solos – especially when Quinn moved from banjo to electric guitar for several songs in the middle of the set. The movement to change instruments was about it for the night. Aside from the pigeon-like neck bobs of both Hambright and Atwood, the players remained stationary. Stationary and quiet. As with the earlier set, the audience was silent. Well, except for one exchange when someone shouted, "Awfully quiet in here!" and another retorted, "Isn't that good?" It is. None of the bands performing had come to party. The crowd hadn't either. They came to see their talented friends play, even if they weren't sure exactly what they'd hear. I think that's just what you do when you live in Kansas City.