Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Get Some Action

Posted By on Wed, May 31, 2006 at 11:07 AM

Hey, local bands, want to get on TV? Here's how.

KSHB Action News, the NBC affiliate, which is channel 41 on my rabbit-ears-endowed set, is putting area acts on TV this summer. I could sum it up, but I'm lazy, so here's the press release:

Kansas City Live is kicking off their first annual Summer Concert Series Friday June 30th. Every Friday through September 1st Kansas City Live will showcase one local band at Gail's Harley Davidson in Grandview from 10:00am to 11:00am. [...] We'll take country, rock, alternative, jazz, punk, retro, all genres! All we need is a demo tape or videotape of the band. We'll choose one band to fill each Friday for a total of ten during our Summer Concert Series to be featured live on Kansas City Live.

If you're interested, give me five bucks and I'll tell you whom to contact.

Kidding.

Meredith Hotness

Contact Meredith Hoenes — um, more like Meredith Hotness -- at 816-932-0705 or hoenes@nbcactionnews.com. You can send your demo or videotape to: Attn. KCL Summer Concert Series, 4720 Oak Street, Kansas City, MO 64112.

Additionally, says grammar outlaw Meredith, "Bands won't get paid, it's not a competition, we're just wanting to give our viewers a little local entertainment. Introduce them to the talent in KC! At the venue, bands can sell and promote as much as they want, they'll likely have three hits on air, one interview, two to three songs. But they'll play for the crowd throughout the hour."

My two cents: This is exactly the kind of opportunity that lame bands jump all over. I would encourage my friends in the good bands around town (and you hiphoppas, too) to get off your lazy summer asses and get on TV. It's a call to arms, man — it's a chance to protect the heart of the scene from being misrepresented by a bunch of shitty-but-enterprising bands. You know they're out there, lurking like roaches under the refrigerator, waiting for the watchful housewife to leave the kitchen so they can scamper across the linoleum and feast on stray bits of dog food.

Hasten to the kibbles, ye bands of quality!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Karma's Crisis

Posted By on Tue, May 30, 2006 at 4:22 PM

I just got word that Oz McGuire, who once did such a great job of getting shy girls to dance back when he and Fat Sal held down a residency at Jilly's (ah, the good old days), is spinning tonight at Karma in Westport. His bulletin reads: "Karma has an identity crisis, but maybe we can fix it? I will be spinning tonight, spanning the spectrum of reggae and latin joints, booty bass and funk. 10pm - 3am. No cover, cheap drinks. Also check out Tyrone's party across the street at one80. Bar hop with good music and take back Tuesdays in Westport."

I don't know who Tyrone is, but I hope it's him. And I think the identity crisis he refers to is that Karma hasn't decided yet whether to transcend its name and be a cool place for regular people to hang out or shoot for the meat market crowd. What do you think?

Hip-Hop Lead

Posted By on Tue, May 30, 2006 at 4:16 PM

Right now, I'm wearing the same pants that I wore to the Peanut downtown two nights ago for Hip-Hop and Hot Wings. The club was overcrowded and sweaty and gross because for some reason, the upstairs was closed. I Febrezed my jeans yesterday; that's about it. Ladies, is that gross? Or do you like a man who lives, loves and dies by his dungarees? After all, as Ibsen said, "Never wear your best trousers when you go out to fight for freedom and truth."

CES Cru

If you agree, then you'll like CES Cru (say it "sess crew"). The Conglomerate Elements of Selfconsciousness were there at the Peanut, throwing down a set that had fans crowding to the front and throwing their hands in the air while the beats were on. When the beats stopped, rappers Godemis and Ubiquitous often kept going, rhyming in rapid-fire synchronization, creating stunning waves of verbiage that had a sort of narcotic effect on the brain. Indeed, the Cru's accelerated flow -- as precise as a rivet machine at a car factory, with words dropping like beats on a skittery jungle track -- transcends mere hip-hop and becomes more like live theater. Fans of CES know what's coming next: If only they'd put out a new record!

They haven't released a CD since 2004's Capture Enemy Soldiers (back when a chick named Sorceress was in the group), and it seems they've become somewhat notorious in the scene for having a surfeit of talent and a dearth of drive to produce, play and market themselves (Sike Style takes care of the lion's share of the latter). That's why I'm not holding my breath in anticipation of two slated releases from the Cru. The first is to be called Packed Lunch, which is a solo Godemis EP; and the second will be a two-disc mixtape featuring a slew of local guest artists called CES Files. This puts them in the company of Approach, who has just released a mixtape (The Nu, which I swear I'll review soon) two years after putting out a bona fide full-length.

And still no Rhymesayers debut from Mac Lethal (and no finished Web site, either)! 11:11 was supposed to come out months ago (and the site has been in a state of "coming soon" for well over a year). In the meantime, at least, Lethal released Love Potion Collection 2 independently, which I also have yet to review.

I think me and the hip-hop scene both need to get the lead out of our asses.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Hard Love

Posted By on Sun, May 28, 2006 at 2:43 AM

I'm on vacation -- in fact, I'm supposed to be vacationing now, but I love you so hard I couldn't just leave without giving you something to keep yourself sane with in my absence. Here are some suggestions:

SUNDAY

Stik Figa & Godemis at Hip-Hop and Hot Wings

HH&HW at the downtown Peanut isn't just a hang-out-and-drink party; there are performances, too, and this should be a good one. Godemis is half of the seasoned C.E.S. Cru duo and is one of the more respected MCs in town. Stik comes in from Topeka and, judging by his MySpace tracks, definitely deserves a KC audience.

MONDAY

Happy Memorial Day, America! Though my manly, patriotic heart stirs with pride, show-wise I'm stumped. I know Murder by Death is at the Granada, but I know of little else. If you got any hot tips, by all means post them in the comments section.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Rally 'Round the Family

Posted By on Tue, May 23, 2006 at 10:42 AM

The Architects do some cookin', cinema-style.

From 6 pm to midnight tonight at the Beaumont, some Lawrence dudes are filming a concert scene for a movie they're doing featuring the Architects. Admission is free, and it's open to all ages. Your presence is required.

The film is called, or going to be called, Air, and they're shooting it on 35mm film, like, with real cameras and shit. They need extras to fill the club so it looks like the Architects, or whatever their fictional name is (I vote for "The Geologists"), have fans. As the director put it, "The more people we can get to show up, the better the shots will look. And when the film looks good, the band and their music will look good -- and they deserve it."

Also, they need the extras to help pull down all the ugly-ass NASCAR crap and clean the windows and redecorate the club. Just kidding.

But seriously, we all know the whole point of life in America is to get into a movie so that you can make people who haven't been in movies feel inferior. This could be your big break!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Lit Up

Posted By on Mon, May 22, 2006 at 4:08 PM

Last Saturday night spelled the final show of the Litigators as we know them. Bassist Tilden Snow and guitarist Brendan Moreland are quitting to focus on other projects and/or refine the art of being Misery Boys in Rex Hobart's backup band.

When I got to the Brick around 11, opener act Aubrey had already played, and It's Over was rocking out. The latter has all the makings of becoming a very popular Kansas City band, which means everyone in town will love them and not understand why someone from out of town won't sign them to a label. That night was the first night with a brand-new drummer, who held his shit together admirably. The real star of the show is frontman Jamie Searle, who, with his big eyelashes, rosy lips and perfect white teeth, looks, well, kinda girly. I mean, the dude rocks out, but he does sort of have an androgynous thing going, probably not intentionally, so I feel bad for pointing it out, but oh well, it's my job. Also, Searle's stage presence, his Paul McCartney head jiggles and at-the-waist bends really reminds me of another boyish/girlish frontman in town, Matt Dunehoo of Doris Henson.

Jeremiah Kidwell is dyin' for ya, baby.

After a loud performance by Chicago's the Safes (which I found to be bland), it was time for the Litigators to lay down the law. There's a reason this band has received several Pitch Music Awards nominations for Best Live Act. The whole band is electric, careening about the stage, nearly colliding with each other but never missing a downbeat as they hammer out Southern-influenced blues/country rock. Frontman Jeremiah Kidwell is the blackest, most soulful redheaded rocker in town, his legs twitching like a Pentecostal minister as he yowls and bellows, brutalizing a tamborine and occasionally chomping on a harmonica. His between-song banter betrays the fact that he's a practicing attorney — not that he discusses legal issues or anything. But rather, he seems to try and confuse the audience with cryptic ramblings about imps coming out of his belly and other odd, tangential things. In other words, you can tell he's a bit more educated than, say, Jerry Lee Lewis probably was at that age. Throughout the set, a stream of shots came from audience to band, and I'm happy to report that I provided one round of Jack Daniels. I was going to go with Southern Comfort, but this older guy at the bar wearing what looked like an Italian gondolier hat, yelled hell no! and ordered Jack for me.

The conclusion of the show found the ride cymbal absorbing most of the abuse. Kidwell decadently swung his mic into it, making a horrific crash, then the normally calm Moreland crossed the stage and swung his G&L telecaster-style guitar into the poor cymbal. Then, the cymbal fell, and I picked up a plastic tray and gave it a few good taps myself. Fuck that cymbal, man! It was sweet.

But what will become of the Lits without their bass and lead guitar? I'm reassured by the fact that the band's other guitarist, Jason Conkwright, played better than I've ever seen him before, completely dominating that night in the six-string arena. So long as they can nab a bassist who can put in the time, they'll be fine. After the show, however, Kidwell hinted that the band might change its name after regrouping. But he was drunk after all those shots, and I don't think he was serious when he talked about reformatting as a metal band called Witch's Tit. OK, I made that up. Or maybe I didn't. It's hard to know what's real after witnessing such a rich catharsis.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Out on the Weekend

Posted By on Fri, May 19, 2006 at 2:18 PM

FRIDAY

Last of the V8s and Valient Thorr at the Brick

If this blog hasn't given you enough reasons to finally go see the recharged V8s (who, by the way, use REAL BLOOD, DAMMIT!), then you must be dead. Tonight, the KC madmen entertain extraterrestrial visitors Valient Thorr, who have come from Venus, pissing liquid ammonia and breathing molten lead, to help reacquaint the people of earth with scorching-hot dirty rawk. Or, if you're feeling cheap tonight, put the Stooges' Funhouse LP on 45 rpm, hook up your nipples to a car battery via jumper cables, drop a weasel in your pants and rock out. Hell, why not do both?

It's Over.

SATURDAY

It's Over, at Penn Valley Park and the Brick

It's Over didn't used to be good. That's what I've heard, anyway. Luckily, I'm acquainted only with the It's Over of today, which is pretty much brilliant. Perhaps that's what's over — their suckiness, their experimental phase. Now It's Over is on. The band's dapper dress (like 1940s newspapermen); the vein-bursting vocal harmonies and hollers; the jubilant, off-kilter pop that pinballs between early R.E.M., Modest Mouse, European folk, Sgt. Pepper's; and the overall insuppressible playfulness not only make It's Over a band to see this summer on pain of death but also make their new, 5-song EP one of the most satisfying local releases so far this year. They play today at 11:30 a.m. at Penn Valley Park for the grand opening of the skate park, then later rock the Brick with Aubrey, the Litigators (who are about to shed two members and either go on or recreate themselves) and excellent Chicago punk band the Safes. Obligatory pun: Don't wait 'til it's over to see It's Over. (Did a brick just whizz by my head?)

Ataxic and Joc Max at Kabal

If the rumors are true, then Kabal's attempts to clear out the thugs and bring in a gentler old-school hip-hop crowd either haven't worked or haven't mattered: The place is supposedly going to become a goddamn sports bar, possibly by the end of the month. Or maybe hip-hop has nothing to do with it. Maybe it's all about money, or maybe the owners just want out of the business. I haven't gotten the official word (just reliable-source gossip). But those shootings that went down outside the club — and the news media's eagerness to connect bullets to beats — certainly weren't very good for the club's image. I could go on, but for now, I encourage you to enjoy the place and its music while it lasts. Tonight brings two of the most talented classic hip-hop spinnas in town, Ataxic and Joc Max. The former is the official DJ for Reach, the happiest MC in town; and the latter is a local legend and hell of a nice guy. All good vibes tonight — check it out while you can.

SUNDAY

Broken Onlys and Cass County Lamenters at Fred P. Ott's

As this blog has made clear, I'm a fan of those in-your-face shows down at the best place to drink on the Plaza. Things usually get started around 11 p.m., it costs $2, you can get cups of beer the size of your head for $5, and, if you aren't feeling the music, the patio makes for a perfect retreat. Tonight's show features some high quality roots and country, you know, the broken-hearted shit, from locals the Broken Onlys and the Cass County Lamenters (the names alone make me wanna hang my head). I haven't heard either yet, but I've only heard good things about 'em.

Homegrown Buzz at the Record Bar

Well looky here! 96.5 KRBZ's nomadic live broadcast with a two-band lineup and lots of schwag distributed by the lovely Jeriney has moved to the RB. Take note. Tonight brings the Secret Club and the New Tragedies, a married-couple-duo so physically attractive they elicit crushage from both sexes and all persuasions. Oh, and their music's nice, too.

And if that's not enough for you this weekend, there's always Lawrence. Now have fun. Don't drive drunk and don't stay sober.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

No Bush? Try Temple of Hip-Hop

Posted By on Wed, May 17, 2006 at 3:23 PM

KRS-One's recent speech (documented on this blog) at KU had quite the impact on the local scene, or so it seems, judging by the activities organized by the 'heads over at HipHopKC.com. Citing something called "The Ninth Overstanding," forum "avatar" NRG (who is actually Necia Gamby, the mother of rapper Joe Good) at HHKC posts a list of activities that aim to strengthen, unite, congeal, cajole, confuse, etc., the local hip-hop scene. There'll be panel discussions with local MCs, b-boys and DJs (this is hip-hop, mind you, not gangsta/street/mob/'hood/stop snitchin' music), club nights and a kickball tournament. Because nothing says We Are Hip-Hop like kickball. Just watch this video if you don't believe me.

And if you really wanna get serious, then get yo' ass to church.

On the side of the HipHopKC forum main page there's a poll that asks "Wanna discuss hip-hop philosophically?" From 75 votes, here are the results:

Wanna discuss Hiphop Philosophically?

Yes, I thought you'd never ask -- 37.33 % (28)

hey, that might be fun -- 17.33 % (13)

I will if there's a topic I'm feelin -- 26.67 % (20)

I can, I'm just not often inclined too -- 2.67 % (2)

What's the point, lets just be hiphop -- 12.00 % (9)

hey I just come here to voyeurize the place -- 0.00 % (0)

No, don't wanna go there -- 4.00 % (3)

(I guess I forgot to vote, otherwise there'd be a 1 for question 6.)

In this segment of local hip-hop, the musicians and fans take the concepts informing the music nearly as seriously as the making and promoting of it. In other words, they might spend as much time debating the philosophies of hip-hop as trying to sell it. While a less-talk-more-rock approach might benefit local artists more in the short term, it could prove interesting to watch the 20-something MCs who are dedicated to Kansas City ( Good, Approach) grow into older, wiser 'heads who have developed a uniquely KC vision of hip-hop.

That said, I'm a bit dubious as to the value of setting aside every third week in May to celebrate hip-hop with "community events" just because KRS-One thinks it's a good idea. I mean, this whole Temple of Hip-Hop thing... It sounds kind of, well, dorky. And "dorky" is not a word that the local scene should risk being associated with. In any form of popular music, taking yourself too seriously and being too earnest often leads to art that's boring and/or worthy of ridicule. Then again, the opposite approach leads to bubblegum. Strike a balance, not a pose. The best way to do is to be. A bird in the hand is what you get when you can't get no bush. ... Yeah.

I think it would have been cool — and netted more publicity — if the Hiphoppas had brought in one or two out-of-town shows, all-ages, featuring reasonably well-known national artists. Easier said than done, I know, but maybe next year they can set the goal of booking an all-ages Granada show with DJs, B-boy battles and headliners like P.O.S. or Psalm One. That would leave less time for philosophizin' but more time for fun. And it would get peoples' attention.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The New Crunk

Posted By on Tue, May 16, 2006 at 3:56 PM

Today, I have no firsthand experiences to speak of, so I'm going to turn the wheel over to ... Michael Douglas, star of firecracker Hollywood classics Romancing the Stone and Disclosure.

"If you need a friend, get a dog."

Yo Kansas City,

Michael Douglas here. I've been watching your hip-hop scene and comparing it with what's going on in the Bay Area, and I have one word for you to carve on the inside of your thigh with a shard of a pig rib dug from the bottom of your mama's three-week-old garbage pile (aka, her bed): HYPHY. What is "hyphy," you ask? Multiple chizzoice, biatch:

A. Me punching Ricky Martin in the face repeatedly while the new E-40 video plays at full blast on a giant plasma screen television and Cat Z. breastfeeds Barack Obama.

B. The lost "krumpin' nekkid" scene from Fatal Attraction, remixed by Keak.

C. Bootyvote.com (not safe for your lame-ass office).

D. A Bay Area music movement that white people in Kansas City couldn't understand even if they taught adult-ed classes on it at National Numbskull Finishing School.

E. The lost "me-kicking-Toby-McGuire's-ass-for-being-a-pussy" scene from Wonder Boys, which ends with me high-fiving Too $hort.

If you answered C, then, yeah, that's the answer. Good job, dipshit. Now clean yourself up and go to a goddamn blues club or trailer park jamboree or what-the-fuck-ever.

If you answered anything else, then there may be hope for you and your pathetic scene.

That's all. Mike D. out. Save the ducks, motherfucker.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Our Mrs. Pac Man Hero

Posted By on Mon, May 15, 2006 at 4:49 PM

When I told my coworkers today that I had met the guy who drives the '80s sedan with the slogan "PENTECOSTAL CLUBBIN' [and in smaller text] HIGH SOCIETY STYLE" emblazoned on the back windshield, I was met with blank stares. Didn't surprise me — I'm the only person around here who knows what's going on. (Yeah, all those bylines you see in the paper? Half of them are pseudonyms for Jason F. Harper. Me, baby, ME.)

I had always wondered about that car, which I often see parked in the neighborhood just west of Westport, across Southwest Trafficway. In the past, I've Googled the slogan and various permutations of it and gotten nada. I can't tell you all the details of how I met him because I'll scoop about half of my column that's coming out this week, but I will say that his name is Mark, he's white and friendly and (forgive me) somewhat nerdy, and he's planning to open a Christian dance club in the West Bottoms. Well, stranger things have been devised, I guess. From the way he went through those records, the Holy Spirit'll be getting down in Mark's club, if it opens.

Speaking of getting down, you all missed a good show last night at P. Ott's, even though it started ridiculously late due to equipment mishaps. It was the Lucky Graves, followed by Be/Non. The Lucky Graves are a power trio (why are all rock trios called "power trios" by the way?) led by Adam Stotts and propelled by bassist Ben Ruth and drummer John Cruz. I'd seem them once before, months ago, and thought "oh, he has a nice voice," but that's about it. This time, however — I don't know if it's because they've improved or I just had funky-junky wax in my ears last time — they blew me off the barstool with confidence, swagger, tight musicianship and memorable hooks. I'd check them out if I were you. You should become their Myspace friend, too, as they only have 77 — and only 3 comments! (I can't believe I actually said that. I must totally be a Myspace bitch now. LOL.)

I have to admit, however, that during the last few Graves songs, I wandered upstairs where I found all the members of Be/Non who are not Lucky Graves (Cruz, actually, is the only Grave who's not in Be/Non) playing Mrs. Pac-Man. I don't think I've ever seen anyone actually play that game well, and I got way into it. I mean, what's more compelling than a giant, anthropomorphic spherical eating head (and female, no less!) racing to devour a maze full of pellets and bouncing fruit while being chased by deadly ghosts? Whoever invented that game is a genius. Doubly so for making Mrs. Pac-Man the fast one. Whenever John or Mike (the two Be/Non guys who were trading off at the game) finished a level or executed a narrow escape, we all cheered. And whenever a player misguided his poor charge into the clutches of a villain and suffered the subsequent dissolution, we sighed. It was riveting.

(By the way, if you're ever in a bar and see a man enthusiastically cheering on a stranger playing a video game, it's probably me. I kind of have a weird fetish, like that guy in the sucky early Christopher Nolan movie Following who, as the title suggests, shadowed random people around London until he got involved with a burglar and the mob and ended up framed for murder. I doubt that could happen to me in the arcade circuit — at worst, I might get pushed.)

Credit: Brett Gilbert

When Be/Non played, things were a little shaky, as the band in the process of training a new drummer, the aforementioned Mrs. Pac-Man hero, Mike Cochran. In fact, bandleader and guitarist Brodie Rush played drums and sang the first few songs. It's always cool to see a drummer sing, or a singer drum, that is, and Brodie can do it... mostly -- I mean, he's no Don Henley. (But, really, who is?) Luckily, when Mike took over, he ruled, and even though the performance was a bit shaky owing to a recent dearth in practice time, there's still no band quite like the Be/Non. If the Flaming Lips had flourished in the early '70s and had about six times more band member turnaround, that'd be pretty close to where Be/Non is.

Sadly, I had to leave early because I think someone had drugged my enormous beer. Not really, but I was not feeling good, and I was hungover as hell this morning, as was a co-worker, who — full disclosure! — is dating one of the Lucky Graves and was at P. Ott's last night, too. Hmmm... maybe I better search her desk for roofies....

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