This is the second part of a two-part review of the fifth annual Crossroads Music Festival. Click here for the first.
The Doo-Dads. 4 p.m. at Crosstown Station. I arrived at Crosstown Station in the middle of the Doo-Dads song, "Dinosaur Party." There were about ten kids jumping up and down, bouncing red balls and running back and forth on the dance floor. The mommies and daddies, most of whom where having a drink, were bouncing right along with the kids to such hits as "Ridin' My Bike," "Hop to the Rock," "Gimme Some Room" and my personal favorite of the set, "Keep It Clean," a song about the importance of personal cleanliness, a subject I believe should be hammered into young minds early. At first, I wasn't so sold on the idea of a local kids' band. I thought it sounded a little creepy, but I don't have any kids so my opinion doesn't really count anyway. The Doo-Dads have put out two full-length CDs and an EP. They also have an eight-song DVD. One of the dads at the show bought it, prompting frontman Mike Niewald to say, "Wow, now you are going to get really sick of us!"
It was a totally enjoyable performance. The four Doo-Dads look like they are having a blast on stage, and the kids really pick up on their energy. There was more dancing going on at this show than any Midtown hipster get-together than I've seen in quite a while. With their matching shirts and sunglasses, cartoon likenesses on the video monitors and song called "The Ball Song" -- Balls, balls, balls everywhere! -- I give the Doo-Dads four-and-three-quarters dinosaur-shaped chicken tenders out of five.
Kirsten Paludan 6:45 p.m. at the Czar Bar. A little later, over at the Czar Bar, Kirsten Paludan was softly kicking things into gear. I have seen her play many times before with Olympic Size and with her self-titled band. I'd never heard her alone, and I have to say that it was the best incarnation of her folkish pop I'd experienced. When she plays with Olympic Size, her breathy voice compliments the vocals of Billy Smith, but not on every song. When I have seen her play with the Kirsten Paludan Band, it's often drowned out by drums and guitar. I think it's time to ditch the band. It's worked for so many others, right? She played her first songs with an acoustic guitar, then switched to a keyboard and added a little drum machine action later on. "It's hard to be a female singer-songwriter and not be influenced by Joni Mitchell, so why fight it?" she asked. You know I've been to sea before/ Crown and anchor me/ Or let me sail away, she sang in her haunting alto. Kirsten has the delicious piano chops of Fiona Apple and a rich voice similar to Natalie Merchant's. It's soothing, lullaby makeout music. Four-and-a-half used Kleenexes out of five!
Shay Estes and Trio ALL 8:15 at the Czar Bar. Honestly, I don't know much about jazz, but I bet the sultry, sexy stylings of Shay Estes are enviable among the other little jazz birds in town. I know she hasn't hit 30 yet, but she sounds like a woman of the world behind the microphone. Backing her up was Mark Lowrey on piano, Zach Albetta on drums and Steve Rigazzi on upright bass (who was replacing Ben Leifer for the evening). Once Shay started shaking her hips and singing in French, it made me wonder why I don't go to Jardine's more often. Even if you aren't that into jazz, you can't help but be impressed at how profesh and awesome the combination of musicians sound. I've heard Shay joke about her and Lowrey being cosmically connected. It must be true. They did a couple of Tom Waits covers, including "New Coat of Paint," and their version of "Across the Universe" was lovely. Estes does seem to have her own stable of standards she likes. The highlight of the performance was "Cry Me a River." "Why be sad when you can be spiteful?" she asked the growing audience before launching into the "angry samba" version of the song originally written for Ella Fitzgerald. Bottom line, Shay Estes and Trio ALL sounded amazing together. I'm surprised they are sticking around Kansas City. Go see them. Now. Five saxophones out of five!
The Kelihans 9:15 p.m. at the Mercy Seat alley. The Kelihans have been around forever. I think it's starting to show. The raucous, seven-piece Irish rock band from these parts played their set on the bendable Mercy Seat Alley stage and it sounded unlike how they usually do. It's usually a party when these dudes (and one lady) play, but tonight I think their energy was floating upward into the KC night sky and not into the audience.
They started out a little slow, and I noticed most of the band members were drinking water instead of whiskey. I've seen these guys give their all before, especially this past St. Patrick's Day, when they battled shitty soundboards and traffic from Waldo to Zona Rosa to play four different gigs. But to their credit, at CMF they played no sad drinking songs and no fights in the audience were started. "Where's me grog?" someone on stage asked. This was shortly before fiddle player Dana Catlett suddenly jumped off stage and split. I thought she was gone for good until about two minutes later when her still-plugged-in violin fell off of a nearby amp. Oof! That sucked. I'm not giving up on them though. The Kelihans play relatively memorable shows. They just weren't feelin' it on Saturday. Two Jameson bottles out of five.
The Pornhuskers 11 p.m. at the Mercy Seat Alley. By the time the Pornhuskers came on, I'd put in a good seven-plus hours in the CMF. Surely, I thought, it would wake me up and put a good spin on the day that started out with a kids band.
"Goddamn, I love drugs," said frontman King Punk Rock Salami, who stood there with his strap-on dildo sagging and pointing towards the ground. He was flanked by two scantily clad but generally covered up ladies. No electrical tape pasties. It's hard to describe what the Pornhuskers sound like. It's like shock-rock punk, I guess? "This is the most sober the Pornhuskers have ever been," the Salami man announced. Sobriety seemed to be the going theme of the evening. "Does anyone here ever masturbate?" he asked. Before asking, the band went through the songs "Blueballs" and "Three Way," while Record Bar dancing man Ricardo went up on stage in a pair of tight rainbow underwear and a shirt that said, "A girl's mouth is for a reason." It was a little much. But it kept on. "Show some titty right now!" someone onstage yelled.
I thought these guys put on a cool show when I saw them at the Riot Room a year or so ago. I moved toward the back where I ran into Kim Stanton, Rural Grit organizer. I was exhausted. I just shook my head at her. She smiled at me and said, "It's old... and it's old men doin' it." Indeed. One butt plug out of five.
For more coverage, flip to Side A, turn your monitor upside down, and look for Satanic messages.