Friday March 13th, 1998 at Gee-Coffee in Olathe, Kansas

The Sunshine Vandals, The Break-Ups, The Markers, & Tito Santana

I hadn't been to a show in weeks and I was starting to feel like I wasn't connected to the scene at all. Truth be known I'm not. I used to be "in the scene" in Indpls. I mean at least I knew all the bands and put out records by half of them and knew all the shows that were happening etc... Here I am lucky to hear about a show before it happens.

Nessa and I paid the $5 cover and went inside. There weren't the normal crowd of kids sitting outside smoking, I guess it was too cold. Gee Coffee is a giant warehouse with a great sound system, video games, pool and pinball. However it is also the local hang out of chain-smoking suburban youths on a Friday night. With the exception of The Breakups I was definitely 10 years older than the rest of the crowd. This fact bugs most of KC scene kids so they don't go to Gee Coffee much.

Tito Santana played first. They are a local pop punk trio that I've heard of before so I guess they're not THAT new of a band, but it sounded like it. There were numerous restarts and do-overs as the 15 year old kids in grandma wigs and metal t-shirts (was Slaughter ever metal?) ran through a very predictable set of bay-esque pop punk (with no leads) and third wave ska. They did a few covers (of which I didn't recognize) and generally goofed around. The guitarist was fairly witty and I'm sure the band will continue to get better.

Next up were locals The Markers who claimed to be from Oregon. This band may be the hardest band I've ever had to review. They introduced themselves as a comedic rock band though I think the admission of comedy was just put there to keep them from getting their asses kicked. The Markers consisted of a keyboardist/vocalist, drummer/vocalist, a bass player (who did very little) and a guitar player (who did even less). The focus was definitely on the keyboards and the whole band was stuck somewhere in the mid 70s when over-the-top ballads and rockers by the likes of Meatloaf were still all the rage. Of course you'll need to take away the slick production and make it happen in a garage by a group with no talent and less worries about it. Their show was terribly entertaining, and to my incredible shock the crowd was into it too, holding up their lighters and clapping along over their heads as the band crooned in their highest falsetto "There are no aliens in China, no monkeys in Peru, no zebras in Canada and no bigfoot in the zoo." They said they had a couple of albums out which I doubted at the time and unfortunately there was no merch table to allow me to find out for sure.

The cutest band in the world, aka The Break-Ups were next. The Break-Ups are a punk rock foursome in their mid to late 20s. They seemed terribly drunk and fairly belligerent, both I imagine to be mainstays of their performances. The band was quite humorous at times, vulgar at others spreading that special blend of punk rock sexism that we have all grown to love (ahem). Musically the band was half Sloppy Seconds and half Queers but only a quarter as entertaining. The guitarist was excellent ripping through flawless clean (Fender through Fender) leads and pointing out the 15 year old Lisa Loeb look-a-likes in the audience in his spare time. I'm sure the band sounds much better on vinyl when the backing vocals all come together and the George Tabb-wanna be bassist isn't whining about the monitors.

Up last (and after the majority of the crowd left) was the Sunshine Vandals. I had heard they were kinda a joke pop punk band from Kansas City; the kind that are okay, but are just too young so no one gives them any respect. Scene cred or no I was blown away, and not just because both guitarists played through 5150 half stacks. The SSV were power-pop in the spirit of Fifteen, Samiam or Jawbreaker. Live the songs were interesting, loud, emotive, and powerful. Some of their intricacy and any meaningful lyrical content was lost live, but I drool when I imagine what would happen if they went into the studio with the right producer. They played well to the 20 of so folks left in the club, and seemed to enjoy themselves. It didn't hurt that they also seemed to know everyone left in the club and that 1/3 of those folks were their collective grrlfriends (each of whom got a song dedicated to them).

It was late, and the club was really cold now that everyone had left so we rushed back to the car and hit the interstate heading back home.