Crossroads Music Festival
Saturday, September 8 / Sunday, September 9
The Crossroads at Grinders, the Gorilla Theater, the Brick
Review & crappy snapshots by Jason Harper
In case you're one of the thousands of Kansas Citians who failed to support the local music scene by going to last weekend's Crossroads Music Festival and having fun, well, you missed out.
Overall, the festival could have been much better attended, especially on Sunday. It's depressing to dwell upon how disconnected and apathetic and unsupportive people in Kansas City are when it comes to live music that's generated from right here in town. Put Elton John's shiny boohiney in the Sprint Center, and folks will trample their own children to get in line for tickets. Plan a local music festival on a beautiful September weekend and people stay in their caves of darkness and ignorance.
But enough moralizing. The important thing is that the festival happened and the bands were good and the people who went had fun. I talked to heroic festival overlord Roach (aka Bill Sundahl) Sunday night, and he said much the same thing, pointing out that it took the now humongous SXSW festival about 15 years to break out of obscurity. CMF stands to grow. The believers were there this year. There was even a production company shooting a documentary.
DAY ONE: day
man perp had more fun at the festival than you will ever know.
I arrived Saturday around 3 p.m. to hear Kasey Rausch and Friends getting folksy on the main stage before a tiny gathering (see background of above photo).
I bought a Chicago dog from the stand operated by the Big Lick, the dogs 'n ice cream place on 39th where Angie's used to be. Properly fueld, I installed myself inside the Gorilla Theatre where a company of two dozen or so black-clad musicians were preparing to provide orchestral accompaniment to Jon Yeager, former Daybird and striving solo artist.
UMKC composition major Anna Armstrong conducted the Yeager Pops. She also co-composed the music with Jon and the help of Jon's fiance, Lauren Veach. The arrangements were swift, bright and winsome -- more like a symphonic-music-of-the-Beatles album than Sufjan Stevens. The latter's an apt comparison, though, as he and Yeager both draw parallels to Christianity in their music. I caught two biblical references in Yeager's set, one song mentioning the horse and the rider being thrown into the sea (by God, in Exodus); another, the thorn-in-my-side business (cf. Paul, 2 Corinthians). And all that made me think: Hey, Jon, why not come out as a Christian artist and take this orchestra show on the road? I have a 26-year-old friend who's made a living for the past TEN years playing guitar in a Christian band no one's ever heard of, except the ministers and churches and such who pay big money for the band to play. Granted, that's some serious praise music, and Yeager's music is more abstractly spiritual and not for use in actually worshipping the Lawd, but, hey, target your market's all I'm saying. Church people love pretty music played by handsome young turks. (In fact, I think male contemporary Christian pop stars are the reason male contemporary country are getting made up like urban gays, with girl jeans and spiked, highlighted hair and tans and so forth. Nashville: The most metrosexual town in America. Who woulda thunk?) Anyway, hallelujah, yo.
I was going to hit the Brick next, but I was literally drawn in -- as if an invisible teacher was pulling my ear -- by the ACBs on the main stage. We just wrote about the ACBs, and they're now your official one-stop shop for harmony-rich powerpop. They even worked a jam on "Tomorrow Never Knows" into one of their songs. Groupies wanted.
My arrival at The Belated's set at the Brick was, therefore, belated. (I do not understand this group's name.) I caught the last couple of songs and was pleasantly surprised. Because, honestly, I thought they'd suck. I was not a fan of their latest CD on which the vocals were ultimately horrid. But live, singer Michael Richardson belts it out tunefully and well. The songs are loud, masculine, brooding homages to The Bends and other forms of sweeping, post-grunge-era gravitas. Which means: lighten up, The Belated! At the very least, lose the goth keyboard shit.
At the end of the show, Richardson dropped his guitar on the stage, hollered out a few more lines from deep within his spleen, then walked off stage and out of sight, leaving the band to jam out to the end of the song. Rock. Star. I don't think these guys are douchebags. Just a bit misguided. Ireland band the Frames does epic seriousness much better. Maybe Richardson & co. would benefit from a studious listening session or two.
Be/Non took the stage next, as a three piece once again. This time, however, the band was supposed to be a quartet, but keyboardist John Huff had a flat tire on the way to the show from Lawrence. But with powerhouse drummer Billy Brimblecom temping on drums, bandleader Brodie Rush was free to do what God created him for: guitar and vocals (with the band's busiest revolving door flapping behind the drum seat, Rush often has had to play drums and sing). The muscular trio couldn't pull off every song without Huff, but they nonetheless cooked with rock lard.
Back at the backlot, I saw Ricardo, also doing what he does best, i.e., showing up in a hat, skirt and funny t-shirt and dancing merrily.
Then Zeegrass played in labcoats.
Then I had to go home for a spell of recuperation. I'm not a young man anymore, you know.