Last Saturday night spelled the final show of the Litigators as we know them. Bassist Tilden Snow and guitarist Brendan Moreland are quitting to focus on other projects and/or refine the art of being Misery Boys in Rex Hobart's backup band.
When I got to the Brick around 11, opener act Aubrey had already played, and It's Over was rocking out. The latter has all the makings of becoming a very popular Kansas City band, which means everyone in town will love them and not understand why someone from out of town won't sign them to a label. That night was the first night with a brand-new drummer, who held his shit together admirably. The real star of the show is frontman Jamie Searle, who, with his big eyelashes, rosy lips and perfect white teeth, looks, well, kinda girly. I mean, the dude rocks out, but he does sort of have an androgynous thing going, probably not intentionally, so I feel bad for pointing it out, but oh well, it's my job. Also, Searle's stage presence, his Paul McCartney head jiggles and at-the-waist bends really reminds me of another boyish/girlish frontman in town, Matt Dunehoo of Doris Henson.
After a loud performance by Chicago's the Safes (which I found to be bland), it was time for the Litigators to lay down the law. There's a reason this band has received several Pitch Music Awards nominations for Best Live Act. The whole band is electric, careening about the stage, nearly colliding with each other but never missing a downbeat as they hammer out Southern-influenced blues/country rock. Frontman Jeremiah Kidwell is the blackest, most soulful redheaded rocker in town, his legs twitching like a Pentecostal minister as he yowls and bellows, brutalizing a tamborine and occasionally chomping on a harmonica. His between-song banter betrays the fact that he's a practicing attorney — not that he discusses legal issues or anything. But rather, he seems to try and confuse the audience with cryptic ramblings about imps coming out of his belly and other odd, tangential things. In other words, you can tell he's a bit more educated than, say, Jerry Lee Lewis probably was at that age. Throughout the set, a stream of shots came from audience to band, and I'm happy to report that I provided one round of Jack Daniels. I was going to go with Southern Comfort, but this older guy at the bar wearing what looked like an Italian gondolier hat, yelled hell no! and ordered Jack for me.
The conclusion of the show found the ride cymbal absorbing most of the abuse. Kidwell decadently swung his mic into it, making a horrific crash, then the normally calm Moreland crossed the stage and swung his G&L telecaster-style guitar into the poor cymbal. Then, the cymbal fell, and I picked up a plastic tray and gave it a few good taps myself. Fuck that cymbal, man! It was sweet.
But what will become of the Lits without their bass and lead guitar? I'm reassured by the fact that the band's other guitarist, Jason Conkwright, played better than I've ever seen him before, completely dominating that night in the six-string arena. So long as they can nab a bassist who can put in the time, they'll be fine. After the show, however, Kidwell hinted that the band might change its name after regrouping. But he was drunk after all those shots, and I don't think he was serious when he talked about reformatting as a metal band called Witch's Tit. OK, I made that up. Or maybe I didn't. It's hard to know what's real after witnessing such a rich catharsis.