Tuesday April 27th, 1999 at The Replay in Lawrence, KS
Truman's Water, The City Fathers

Truman's Water changed my life. Kinda. In '95 I was convinced that The Queers Love Songs for the Retarded was the pentacle of modern music. I just thought the closer you could get to the perfect pop of Joe Jackson the better, and the further away you were the worse it was. I publicly (and to some embarrassment now) said Touch & Go, Amphetamine Reptile and a host of other noisy labels could die. I just didn't get it. Why the noise? Then one day I got a couple of CDs in the mail. One from Truman's Water, the other from Blunderbuss. I listened and thought "What the hell is this?" then listened again and I got it. I heard there was something real happening, not under all that noise, but through all that noise.

I headed out a little after 10pm for the drive over to Lawrence. I'd been hunting for a band name so I figured I'd listen to the lyrical poetry of Leonard Cohen and see if I could gleam anything from it. A couple of options popped up but the band hasn't gotten back to me on 'em.

I didn't know anyone at The Replay so I tried to find a stool but I kept getting bumped by someone saying their friend would be right back so I ended up sitting on a pinball table while The City Fathers finished setting up. I checked my camera and the batteries were totally dead so you'll find no lovely pictures below.

A few minutes later Heather sat behind a drum kit that wasn't hers, Craig picked up an electric hollow body guitar and the married duo announced they were the pre-show entertainment. They quickly ripped through a very tight song named You Got To that was more about structure and rhythm than melody. It rocked my little world but it was just a one off and they left their instruments and vanished for a few minutes before returning with the rest of the band.

The City Fathers took the stage with Craig and Heather both on guitar, the rhythm section from The Subrosa Band and about 30 folks watching. They too launched into a jerky, angular number which excited me and I was already thinking I had a new favourite local band. The band as a whole communicates pretty well but most impressive element is Craig's aggressive guitar playing. He is able to use his talent and skill without sounding wank, but rather to command his Fender to howl and screech. The band mixed in noisy punk numbers, math rock numbers, and melodic post-punk songs in a set that really rocked me. I found out later this was their first show and was totally floored.

Truman's Water pulled over their drum kit, set up a couple of small guitar amps and started tuning or making noise or playing a song; you can't be sure. The band was more chaotic than I remembered and at times I wondered if either of the guitarists really knew how to play. The drums seemed to run on their own and the guitarists played independent of each other creating chaos and noise which hurt my head most of the time. Then when all seemed to be at its masturbatory height, the guitars would come together with the drums and genius would soar out from the noise. Together they created wicked sounding melodies, chased each other around the fretboard, or just took turns making off-key noises. Those moments made up for the 2 broken strings, and lengthy tunings which slowed down the set. Evidentially not everyone felt this way as the crowd fell from the 40 there at the start of the set to only 20 at 1am (quite early for The Replay) when they ended.

I slipped out right after the band finished, intent on picking up a dozen donuts and getting back to Kansas City for a full night's sleep.