It's safe to say that the night of the Showcase is one of the best nights of the year to go out... even better than New Year's Eve, Irish Fest, Rock Fest, the first First Friday of the summer or your cousin from Blue Springs' bachelor or bachelorette party at Toby Keith's. It's awesome. You don't even have to be a hipster to have fun.
It'll be hard to ever again find the energy I felt back in 2006 at the Showcase when onemilliontinytinyjesuses had a packed house at the Dark Horse standing in wide-eyed disbelief at their experimental robot rock, and I'll never get the fuzzies again the way I did last year when I heard the Roseline downstairs at Blayney's. It's kind of magical.
This time around, I opted to stay at the Beaumont from start to finish. I could perch above the stage on a Jim Beam barstool, get blasted with air conditioning and hear a diverse mix of bands I'd either not seen before or seen a hundred times.
First up, the Kings of KC Swing...
I arrived to the location exactly at 8:20. There were less than 15 people there. Part of me wished at that moment, that I was the one who had booked the bands for the evening. I would have put the Grand Marquis on later in the evening. Maybe sometime soon I will see or hear about these guys play to a packed hometown crowd that's not at a private party or a restaurant gig. Who else is playing jump swing locally two or three nights a week? They travel all over the region (Manhattan, St. Louis, Omaha, Des Moines, to name a few) and play to tons of swing dancing couples all night long at those gigs, but I guess the swing scene isn't so huge here in Cowtown. Weird.
Frontman, sax player, clarinetist and lead vocalist Bryan Redmond announced that a new CD is in the works for a spring release. Until then, you'll have to catch them at Jazz on 39th Street every Thursday night, one of their three upcoming shows this month at the Drum Room or at a free local show around the metro. They are easy to find and truly profesh.
A few people danced, including a female whose male partner was trying really hard to get her to move her flip-flopped feet. I think she felt weird. "You make your own good times," Redmond announced. Indeed.
Next, the Beaumont got a little reggae-ish with the slightly jazzy sounds of SeedLove.
Of all of the bands that I saw that night, SeedLove looked like they were having the best time. They brought a good-sized crowd (for an early appearance) that enjoyed it, too. There was even a group of people up by the top bar dancing in a huge puddle of beer.
I must apologize to SeedLove because I didn't get much of a chance to enjoy their irie (if you will) tunes. I received a text from Pitch marketing director Jason Dockery that he needed an emcee at the Beaumont Club (Shaun Flo, scheduled emcee for the night was ailing from a bad case of poison ivy). I spent the next couple of hours wavering between nausea and nervousness. I did, however, notice that SeedLove went over their scheduled time onstage, throwing off the flow and putting ants in the pants of the next band in line, Antennas Up.
Oh, Antennas Up... You all also get an apology because I don't have a picture of how cute you guys looked onstage with your white button-down shirts and ties or how cool it looked when you all played the same drum on that last song. I can tell ya'll that you do sound a whole lot different live than you do on MySpace, and I can't wait to see what's to come in the future.
Before the Be/Non set, I went out back of the Beaumont and stood at the bar with the men in the band. I reminded myself of all the different incarnations of the band that I was familiar with. This current set of chaps is definitely the one that I prefer. They are like a delicious BLT. Brodie Rush (of course), is the bacon. The thick, salty, expensive kind you get at a greasy restaurant. Ryan Shank is the tomato, red and seedy with his juicy drum beats. Jeremiah James is the lettuce, leafy and very green-looking with his cool backup vocals and crisp guitar licks. Ben Ruth is perfectly toasted sourdough holding them all together. It's filling and satisfying.
Be/Non played to the largest crowd of the evening. They opened with what Rush referred to as their "we don't give a shit" song. The entire set wasn't off of their latest release, A Mountain of Yeses. It sounded a lot like the Be/Non of the past. I liked hearing something different. I also have to say that I liked hearing Jeremiah James sing more this time around. It's time Mr. Rush shared the spotlight a little more with his hella-talented counterparts.
Most straight-up fuckin' killer band of the evening? Hammerlord.
"Raise your chalices in the air!" roared Stevie Cruz. Hair flew, balls were rocked and the crowd ate it up. I'm embarrassed to admit that I hadn't ever seen Hammerlord. I just can't do the metal. However, I would see them again just to watch those dudes work the crowd. Goddamn pentagram!
A thick crowd came out for the Roman Numerals post-midnight set, including a wildly dancing, over-accessorized, young frontman of a band whose name is made up of the same verb repeated twice. I see the Roman Numerals frequently and haven't ever seen this dude at a show before. Perhaps it was his first time? He truly seemed to be enjoying the set made up of mostly new material, as was their ever-faithful fanbase. They kept it short and loud, though, as the night was melting away quick.
In the last spot of the night was Pet Comfort, a band that my cohort, the Buckle Bunny touts regularly. PC was the first band with a lady up in front (but not the only band with a lady, lest we not forget drum virtuoso, Lisa McKenzie of the Grand Marquis). I think they played a pretty awesome set considering the circumstances: the partied-out crowd, 2 a.m. set time and a couple of broken guitar strings (at least, I think they broke some strings). They scored points with their random banter ("Anyone out there have fibromyalgia? You don't have to be embarrassed... anybody?") and song introductions ("This song is about waking up next to someone that's a real scuzzball.").
They rocked, all right. In and out, loud then soft... Pet Comfort might be onto something. I have to see them again. At the end, they said, "Let's drink some drinks!" Lets!
The night was finally over. The Buckle Bunny and I were shooed out back, thrust past the soupy floor of the women's restroom and into the yard that once was the Westport Beach Club into the throng of shitfaced musicians, beer-tossing assholes and early 20-something liquid eyelinered and high-heeled ladies.
Ah yes. I do heart the Pitch Music Showcase.