Some people in the crowd were dancing in that not-really-moving-anything-but-their-heads kind of way, but most were just standing around watching. Because the band members are recent Kansas City Art Institute graduates, several professors and an art critic were in the audience, too.
Seth Johnson, one of the handful of artists who manage the space, was standing in the back of the room when the music stopped and the projector went dark. "I thought it was just a break in the music," he recalls, "but I started getting kind of worried because it was taking too long."
Then he saw the shining flashlights.
Police Captain Richard Lockhart tells us that officers had been called in by a neighbor at 17th and Belleview who reported that Your Face was having a "rave party."
Johnson didn't want any trouble, so he told people to get out and go home.
That was when a representative from the Ssion's record label -- whose home is in Brooklyn -- jumped onto the stage to ask lead singer Cody Critcheloe where he should go. And apparently being an out-of-towner looks a lot like disobeying a police order, because an officer grabbed the New Yorker and pulled him from the stage. He insisted on getting a badge number, which the still-relatively calm Johnson tried to procure.
Then Johnson got arrested. "I step off the curb, and [the officer] puts me in handcuffs and says did I know it was illegal to step off the curb in Kansas City, and I said no, I didn't."
While he was in handcuffs, Johnson's nose and lips started tingling -- about the same time as a girl who'd been cuffed for littering (by littering, we mean dropping her drink so she could get the hell out of there) began to cough. The outlaws -- litterers and curb jumpers alike -- realized they were suffering the effects of pepper spray, but they were far enough from the crowd that they didn't throw up like the others.
Johnson earned a jaywalking ticket. Another man was ticketed for riding away on a bike without a headlight.
Pitch readers who haven't been to Your Face might not be able to picture the people whose fifteen-second foot-dragging on their way out of an art gallery merited mace. Let's just say it's entirely possible that nobody there would have been capable of a single chin-up and that crowd control probably could have been achieved by removing the glasses from every nearsighted kid there. Even the threat of corrective-lens damage would have sent most people fleeing.
The display now at Your Face is called The Grass Is Always Greener. For that show, internationally acclaimed graffiti artist Dalek came to town and did a bright, colorful, site-specific installation. Johnson and his fellow gallery owners spent a whole night laying down always-green Astroturf, and at last week's opening, people were invited to play croquet. Dalek stood happily nearby. He's shown his work in every major city, and Your Face, he says, has been unusual in its generosity.
The Ssion left May 3 for the rest of its tour, which includes four New York City shows. We don't know whether the grass is really greener there, but we do know that, in her "Fly Life" column in the May 21 issue of The Village Voice, party/concert/gossip writer Tricia Romano noted the Ssion's performance at Pianos, where celebrities like ex-Smashing Pumpkin James Iha were upstairs for a Yeah Yeah Yeahs afterparty. "Downstairs," Romano wrote, "a trio dressed in chicken costumes called the Ssion (led by singer Cody, who designed the YYY album art) sing-shouted, while everyone scratched their noggins trying to decide if they were stupid or brilliant, or perhaps, stupidly brilliant."