If you've ever heard "Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)," you'll understand why Kansas City's Abracadabras were more than a bit chapped about being forced to share a stage with Big & Rich, the handlebar-mustachioed pop-country duo that decided to hijack the Beaumont Club with an impromptu show announcement via a local radio station. By the time Abracadabras took the stage in tight pants, scarves and frilly blouses, the club was packed with hundreds of hard-drinkin', God-fearin', red-state rednecks.
"People were shouting 'faggot' because we write good songs and dress well," recalls lead singer John Nixon.
"There was a guy standing in the front row with his thumb pointed downward for the whole show," says bassist Collin Rausch with a chuckle.
To add insult to injury, Big & Rich made a grand entrance in the middle of the band's set, walking straight through the crowd to a heroic ovation.
"They didn't even talk to us," Nixon says. "Someday, when we're bigger, we'll shit on the side of their stage and put a cowboy hat on it."
You see what you get when you mess with Abracadabras? Hailing from the rock mecca of Blue Springs, Missouri (home to Golden Eggrolls and Tropical Extreme Tanz), the upstart fivesome possesses a steely resolve to succeed.
"We look around and see that all of our (college-educated) parents are lower-middle-class," Nixon says. "If we're going to be poor, we may as well do what we want to do."
The plan took shape this last year: Nixon quit his cush job at Sprint, guitarist Travis McKenzie bolted from Central Missouri State University and 6-foot-8-inch drummer Kyle Rausch abandoned his sixth-man role with the Division 1-A basketball team at Missouri State.
"Sports is fun, but it's only a game," Rausch says. "Rock and roll is a lifestyle."
The group's enticing first single, "Be Still Be Cool," boasts a swaggering hook reminiscent of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. An EP of home demos hints at an affinity for across-the-pond acts such as the Vines and Manic Street Preachers as well as time-honored standbys the Beatles and the Kinks.
"We try not to discriminate based on the popularity of the band," Rausch offers.
Nixon and Rausch have already co-written more than 60 tunes, some of which may end up in Nixon's solo canon. (Peep myspace.com/johndnixon for samples.) The group will hole up this winter to make a record with local engineer Mike Crawford in a basement studio stocked with vintage instruments and amps.
"I'm ultra-confident that it's going to be a great record," Nixon says. "If a label doesn't pick it up, they'd have to be deaf."
Nixon's boastfulness could be interpreted as arrogance, but more likely it's the product of working hard and sensing a break on the horizon. The whole Abracadabras gang has an unbreakable sense of T-E-A-M — they pass out carnations at shows, and Nixon's wife, Kristin, boldly canvasses the crowd with bags of buttons.
"I see so much of myself in her that we can't hold each other back," Nixon says of his sweetheart.
Now ain't that big and rich?