I arrived in Lawrence seated on the passenger side of a car. This was only the second time I didnt use my left hand to open the car door to make my exit into Lawrence. I was passive. Well lets say I should have been passive. Maybe I was a little disparaging. Maybe grrls just dont know how to take constructive criticism about their driving. So after making up (but not out) in the parking lot of Borders, Dana and I headed across the frozen dirt that was once muddy grass and into The Bottleneck.
It was nearly 10pm but the club was still mostly empty a college town without the college kids I guess. Memoir was already doing their pre-game prayer huddle and for the first time I can remember, the show began at 10pm. On a Friday. With only two bands.
Memoir is a fairly recent addition to the areas music scene. Although theyve played every church basement and rectory that would have them, this marks the bands official outing into prime time. Last months appearance at a Bottleneck open-mic night was strong enough to earn them an opening gig to a half-empty club and the band wanted to make the most of it.
Writing Memoir off as a leftover emo band was pretty easy for many in the jaded audience and the band has set themselves up for much of the ridicule lobed at them. However there are moments where the two thin guitars twist betwixt themselves or when they playfully leap-frog each other scrapping for a single melody line, and at those moments you know the band is more than loud, then quiet, then time change, then tortured howl.
Howl, however, may hit the mark as Mike Veras vocals are often painfully off key. His airy voice is certainly passable on studio recordings, but live, when hes playing his guitar, the good notes and the band notes come in pretty even supply. Those looking for excuses not to like Memoir may latch onto this weakness, but those who enjoy the bands engaging music are quick to overlook it; weve all heard worse.
The Police played on the house PA and Memoir sold demo CDs for $3 (or whatever you have) while Jared Scholz and the Trelese set up quietly and unassumingly. This band too is a recent addition to Kansas Citys music scene having only played four shows in their few months of public life. Jared Scholz (guitar/vocals) however has surely logged days of hours on the Bottlenecks stage with his last band, Reflector. Comparisons between these two efforts are sure to reign down for a year and Im not a brave enough man to go against the trend, so lets just get them out of the way.
Jared Scholz and the Trelese is very similar to Reflector. In fact its almost exactly what youd expect from Scholz. I was initially disappointed (as I expected to be) that drummer Jason Trabue and bassist Jeff Stephens (last heard in A Storied Northwest) dont play with quite the explosion that Jake and Harry did, that may be by Scholzs design. Remember, he has chosen HIS band to play HIS songs. Although this can translate into an unchecked ego and some not-so-strong song ideas being carried too far, in Jareds case I think it simply has allowed him to realize his songs with a bit more twang than he could have gotten away with in Reflector. Several times in the night Jared set down his Telecaster to pick up a Dan Electro or a Richenbacher and nearly all guitar solos (regardless of the guitar) contained more smoke and less seer than they would have had in Reflector.
Although the Reflector comparisons are obligatory, a different comparison also came to mind: a certain whisper of Geoff Farina. Particularly in the quieter, more personal moments of the set, Scholz took on the persona of the singer/songwriter presenting his intimate testimonials; his expressive guitar shaped through the same emo and indie rock filters as Farina. Its this side that may hold the most promise for Scholz, with or without Harry, Jake or The Trelese.
The audience of forty-five or so had shrunk to twenty by the time the band finished their hour-long set. I politely thanked the bands, waved goodbye to Luke, and then Dana and I sped over to Dunkin Donuts. The run down: a French Cruller, a Bavarian Kreme, all damn good.