With each Daybird capable of swapping instruments, Jon Sweetwood, Dean Woods, and Jon Yeager made equally formidable contributions. Eschewing rack toms to hammer only at a piccolo snare and a floor tom, drummer Jon Yeager still souped up the album's best songs with charging rhythms. Sweetwood, half bass guitar, half horn-rimmed glasses, played the pop nerd part with defiant klutziness, executing stage moves rejected by all-time bad jumper Peter Buck. Endearing. (He also played most of the keyboard parts.) It's early to call the Daybirds the best band in Kansas City, but almost no one else playing regularly is as instantly magnetic.
And no one else on the local circuit is as altogether repugnant as Fatback, inexplicably sandwiched between the Daybirds and Kristie Stremel. Not content merely to sweat out a fever dream of hookless jam band Sturm and Drang, Fatback peppers most of its indistinct oeuvre with genuinely offensive lyrics. There was a song about "four-eyed girls" with narrow asses and bankrupt libidos, a song devoted to the mockery of fat women, and a song titled "Dirty Underwear," all of which seemed to favor the word "pussy" above all more traditional songwriting nouns. Considering that the band is composed of various shaved and mohawked coiffures and contains not one handsome member, the misogyny was terribly embarrassing to any man in the audience with an IQ in the triple digits. Even without the chants of "We want, we want some pu-say!" that punctuated the final endless number, the members of Fatback have serious red ink on their musical ledger. Their singer sounds like an unholy cross between Bruce Willis in full "Bruno" mode and "Weird" Al Yankovic; that he drums simultaneously hamstrings the rhythm section, because the bass player is the only noticeably talented musician. And let's not even discuss the Jim Rose Circus Show-inspired tomfoolery of the Member Who Juggles and Eats Fire. That the working band members have to split their fees with him seems punishment enough. Anyway, I'd like to formally apologize to Electrophonic Foundation, whom I chased in this space recently; you guys aren't so bad after all.
Kristie Stremel emerged at midnight with guitarist Chris Meck to reclaim what taste could be salvaged following Fatback. A loyal following that had waited through the testosterone-engorged previous set was rewarded with a glowingly sensitive performance. Stremel joked about the absence of her band, which was MIA even though a drum set sat idle next to the stage all evening. Some of her songs indeed cried out for a little juice, and she seemed to compensate by singing with intensity to match the Daybirds' Schlotterer. If Stremel had followed that band immediately, the night would have been one of the summer's finest. But as it was, a little Fatback (or a lot too much, really) wasn't enough to overturn two intricately tailored performances from our most noteworthy locals.