By Brad Krohe
The Record Machine served up three helpings of Kansas City artists at the Record Bar Friday night. Celebrating the release of Soft Reeds' debut album, Soft Reeds Are Bastards (which is out July 13th -- stream it here), the party was rounded out by labelmates Motorboater and Cowboy Indian Bear. It was an impressive showcase for the homegrown label.
The night kicked off with the sexy electro-dance anthems of Motorboater. The smirk-inducing moniker is the solo project of Dan Eaton, current member of the pop group Queens Club and former member of hardcore heroes the Chariot. His lush, tranced-out jams sound like the sweaty lovechild of Delorean and pre-symbol era Prince. For a guy armed only with a lap top and a D.I.Y. light show, he brings twice the animation and energy as most comparable electronic acts.
Cowboy Indian Bear followed with a tight, precise set. The band's airy melodies were grounded by driving rhythms and percussion, causing the crowd to wonder if CIB's soft songs were hard songs, or if their hard songs were actually soft songs. Early on, the band's harmonies were obscured by bar noise, but that would be the only thing beyond CIB's control: everything else went exactly to plan. That is, besides the moment where a rowdy fan shouted, "Your music made me pregnant. " (Perhaps related -- perhaps not -- a few songs later, bass player Marty Hillard stripped off his shirt.)
Soft Reeds' set began with the debut of the band's first music video (directed by Gnarly Dan of Gnarly Enterprises), for the track "This Affair," and the group took the stage with the album header, "Brave New World." Soft Reeds' set was electrifying. If anyone had come to the show with concerns of "hype," the skepticism was melted away by the first vocal salvos of front man Ben Grimes.
While not as well-rehearsed as Cowboy Indian Bear, Soft Reeds' rowdy jamming negated any minor foul. Grimes and his band brought the rock again and again, criss-crossing the stage back and forth, left and right. The band wrapped the night with a live rendition of "This Affair," an infectious, catchy number amongst a repertoire of solid, head-bobbing tunes. Before the set, there was a noticeable air of anticipation; after their set, there was a vibe of expectations met and exceeded.