The 3 a.m. bar at 3740 Broadway is mostly known for its collection of old typewriters and the lush, cultivated dinge that seasons Kansas City dives like an oak-barrel does single-malt scotch. So when I heard that local noise-punk band Marching Powder was going to play there on Tuesday, April 12, I had to check it out -- after all, most small bars (with the notable exception of Fred P. Ott's on the Plaza) book only safe-bet cover bands. But now the place is hosting live music.
Monday brings DJs from Deepfix or elsewhere; Tuesday is for bands; Wednesday alternates karaoke with a hip-hop open mike hosted by SoundsGood; Thursday ruptures eardrums with a punk playlist; and Friday, as the song goes, we're in love, because they never charge a cover.
"It started just as kind of a lark," explains bartender John Tierney. Four months ago, one of the former cooks, Jason "Diggity Dog" Halstrom, wanted to give his band, the Midtown Hounds, a shot at kicking out some jams in the back pool room. No one could think of a reason why they shouldn't, and now, Monday through Thursday, the sounds in the air outside the bar are no longer just those of a crackhead orating at the nearby bus stop.
Climbing the short staircase past the bar, I found that the back room -- its pool tables pushed aside and stacked with merch, equipment and precariously balanced PA speakers -- reinvigorated the tired idea of an "intimate setting" with the smell of the packed-in, unwashed art-school-looking kids and the general feeling that something a touch occult was going on.
I Don't Do Gentlemen, a freakish quartet of small, grimy dudes and a cuddly female drummer, fit the bill perfectly with a supremely ridiculous set of cheap-instrument-abusing catharsis. A quick rearrangement of the stage brought the Ignominates, a guitar-and-drums duo whose low-end surf-rock punk got some members of the crowd sh-sh-shakin'. Nothing could have set the stage adequately, however, for Marching Powder. The group's ferocious squall of drums and feedback and bass hit the collective brain of the room like a shovel full of wet snow --or a snort of the dry stuff.
I was convinced. Like a gardenia bursting from a mound of manure on the Kansas prairie, the News Room's identity as a musical venue is a soiled beauty rising from an unsavory pile.