A new word has elbowed its bastardly way into the vernacular for this type of person: hater. But does it apply to KC detractors? A hater, unlike someone who simply dislikes something atrocious, like conservatism, is, in fact, a discontent, a contrarian. Haters, by contrast, "hate on" things that may otherwise be considered hip. For example, someone who doesn't like mainstream country singer Tim McGraw doesn't qualify; nobody with any taste likes Tim McGraw. But someone who dislikes Kelly Clarkson is definitely a hater, because that rockin' American Idol alum, who can't dance and doesn't show cleavage but wails like a beast, is near the top of a lot of people's guilty-pleasures list.
So, do people who espouse the above-mentioned attitudes about Kansas City qualify as haters? To put it another way, does anybody really even love Kansas City?
When out and about, I've noticed that natives -- or, for that matter, anyone who's been here longer than I have -- proclaim that the reason any given concert or club party is fun is because it made them "almost forget" that they were in Kansas City. And what makes me so uncool by comparison is that these situations actually remind me that I'm in Kansas City. In a few years and after a few more trips to New York, I may become like the malcontents. But for the moment, at least, I have very good company in at least one fellow transplanted Kansas Citian, the venerable Miles Bonny of SoundsGood.
"I like chillin' in Kansas City," the New Jersey-born Bonny told me at a recent event, the nature of which will become clear momentarily. "There's a lot less ego here. The West Coast is too lightweight, and the East Coast is too heavy in terms of attitude." Though he intends to make KC his home long term, Bonny said, he'll take a sabbatical in September to make some industry connections in New York for a few months.
I had run into Bonny near the bar at Jilly's last Tuesday, where Zach "Lovely" Wilson, owner of Lovely Skateboards, was holding bacchanals to celebrate his third year in business. And I can assure you, there wasn't a hater in sight.
First of all, none could have withstood the balls-out assault of the sole band playing the party. The Architects is a four-piece that understands that rock is not simply four chords and the truth; it's pomp, volume, fire and however many chords it takes to get these three essentials across (not that many, usually). All of the Architects were in the Gadjits throughout their teenage years -- Brandon Phillips (who belts like a James Brown Jr. ), his brothers Adam and Zach, and Mike Alexander, the only guitarist in town who can pull off the Pete Townshend windmill-arm-and-spread-eagle stance and look like that's how he learned to play.
Anyway, they fuckin' rocked, as several members of the audience saw fit to point out numerous times, enacting the second antidote to haterism: any oratorical use of the f-word in some enthusiastic, amplified exclamation. One of the proclaimers was Chris Binge of 816 Skateboards, who, after the second Architects song, walked up to the mike and announced, "That's fuckin' rock and roll, you bitch-ass motherfuckers!"
Several declarations from Binge and colleague Tom Wyker followed, delivered on Brandon's mike between songs and prompting the comment from the singer, "It's like VH1 Storytellers."
As the Architects tore down the house, Binge and Wyker, clad in commemorative Lovely shirts (also with the word motherfucker emblazoned on them), continued to live up to their rep as rude boys of the skate scene, spilling beer all over themselves and the floor and shouting incoherent party calls, the last of which, by Wyker, was rather creepy: "Kill the person standing next to you. Kill the person standing next to you."
"I love how quickly they can turn it from an Architects show to an 816 show," Bonny said. "If nothing else, it's a testament to how much fun they're having," he added good-naturedly.
After the show, I approached Lovely and attempted to ask him what the connection was between skateboarding and live music. DJ Hank had already begun a more-than-lively set, though, and Lovely thought I'd said "skateboarding and rap music."
"We both slap bitches and pimp hoes," he joked. When I clarified my question, he said that it was a matter of energy: Stepping on a skateboard and strapping on a guitar both require ENERGY, he shouted.
Was it too much energy, though? Outside, I accosted Brandon Phillips and asked him how he felt about the uncontained revelry and having to compete with a DJ for the crowd's love.
"Those are, like, my favorite gigs, ones that mirror house parties," he said. "People that book rock shows have pretty much forgotten what they're doing. When they do shows, for the most part, and feel that they have to do it professionally, they typically forget the plot."
No one forgot the plot that night -- everyone was wildly lost in it. Except, of course, for the tireless Jilly's staff, who kept the whole party afloat. God bless them, every one.
Kansas City may not have culture, but we sure fuckin' know how to have a good time, motherfuckers!