Last Saturday's first-ever Bleeding Kansas Festival could have been the showcase of the year, if (a) the Pitch Music Showcase two nights prior hadn't been so great (imho) and (b) it hadn't been so gol-darn hot.
My friend Wes and I arrived at Burcham Park around 5:30 to the strains of Mates of State beating out their pretty angst on the main stage. After getting our VIP and drinking wristbands, we walked onto the grounds, which contained a local stage (unfortunately in the blazing sunlight), a second stage under a large tent and the main stage, situated in a shady area that was easily the most comfortable part of the encampment. Old-fashioned water pumps filled plastic bottles and soaked hot heads, leaving puddles of mudd at their bases.
We crawled into the VIP area, a covered concrete slab equipped with picnic tables, coolers of water, stacks of chips and salsa and guacamole from Chipotle, an empty Red Bull cooler and direct access to the adjacent beer tent ($5 a drink). I saw Star music critic Tim Finn wandering among the throng; his paper's pious policy is not to take free tickets or VIP passes to shows but to pay and move amongst the groundlings. To that I say: "Noble...SUCKER!" Wes and I took a seat on the tables, gave a yell to Record Bar co-owner Shawn Sherrill and his two hot escorts as they entered our enclosure and watched Canadian group Broken Social Scene kick out the jams. Wes, being a musician, observed that the song "Shoreline 7/4" is, in fact, in 7/4 time. He didn't know the name of the song — its title dumbed-down for the amusical — he's just a genius.
I knew the festival worker who was driving BSS around that day. Her name's Rae, and not long ago I made her a mix CD, which I titled "Celestial Spank Mix." I used this for its cover. She told me she was playing it while BSS were in her car, and the guys in the band complimented her on it. Score one for the Harpman. The band itself was in good form, busting out the horns and warbling harmonies and driving, light-footed rhythms. It wasn't exactly a crowd-slaying performance, but that was probably due to the heat.
I cruised over to the second stage, a breezeless sweathouse in which Chromeo was setting up about half an hour behind schedule. I got enthusiastic praise on the band from people at the festival. Shawn described it as "perfect '80s electro-pop." But when they finally started, all I heard were shades of the Escape Club plus a vocoder and minus the disembodied limbs. My opinion was justified, I thought, when they covered "I Don't Want to Lose Your Love Tonight" by the bloody Outfield. They didn't lose any fans, though, and my Crapio-loving friends continue in their unenlightenedness to this day. (NOTE: "Thees one's called the OutlaaaawOW!" — The Escape Club)
After that, we were going to watch the ghost of Cris Crisci lead the Appleseed Cast in a posthumous concert, but it was just too hot at the local stage. (Crisci, by the way, is alive and well and didn't even attempt suicide. He did, however, push a retarded kid into the mud when he was 8.) So, it was back to the Royal Picnic Area to wait for Keane, currently the most reassuring band alive. Lose your keys? Call Keane. Top scoop fall off your ice cream cone and splat on the sidewalk? Keane will buy you another. Cat get run over? Keane understands. Fat piece of shit and no one loves you? Keane might be able to help. And all they need is drums, keys, and a singer who dresses like Neil Diamond and asks the audience to shine their cell phones into the air. All that said, I actually kind of like them. I'm a sucker for reassurance.
As the sun went down, the breeze died, the humidity rose and the mosquitoes came out. I pulled an empty water bottle out of the trash and filled it from a pump and promptly contracted Dengue Fever, which really helped me enjoy the monotous, psychedelic slaughter of the Black Angels, who are from Austin and sound like the Warlocks but not as catchy and with fewer drummers. (NOTE: "Oooooooohhhn...shake, shake, shake the doop out." — The Warlocks)
The highlight of the evening — and damn close to the highlight of my entire summer — were the Secret Machines under the small tent. Of course, the Dengue Fever helped, but even without that, it would've been impossible for me not to enjoy. The band consists of three motherfuckin' badasses — a flailing guitarist, a drummer who channels Vulcan and a keyboardist who sometimes plays bass and helps the drummer by adding killer fuckin' synth booms on a lotta beats. And the lights — oh, the lights. The band was backlit the entire time, from dim red to grocery-store-fluorescent brightness, the three of them standing in silhouette as if General Zod and his sidekicks had just crashed through the roof at Sun Fresh at 4 in the morning. Somehow — likely through sheer savage bombast -- the Secret Machines make repetition exciting. Urgency, that's what it is. Also — I almost forgot — Hearne Christopher was totally there. I turned around once and saw him standing and looking willowy and shambly and old in the flashing lights. As I was wondering if maybe he and Tim Finn were actually the same person, an alien being able to take different forms, he looked at me, his eyes became giant, black bulbs, and he transmogrified into a 16-foot praying mantis, galloped down to the river and mutilated a horse with his sword-like pincers.
I was brought back to reality by a cold splash of beer, fired at me accidentally from behind. An old, skinny drunk dude came up apologizing and offering me $5, which I accepted gratefully. As I was thanking him, he began pulling off his shirt and freaking out. The Machines busted out "First Wave Intact" and my face melted down the front of my shirt, mingling with sweat and beer.
I woke up at the sick tent with an IV in my arm. Death Cab for Cutie was still going on the main stage. I began singing along to the ba-nap-bap-bap-ba-ba-ba-baaaa part to "Soul Meets Body." The nurse slapped me and called me a faggot. I began crying and she gave me a lollipop and called my mom to pick me up, but my mom's with her boyfriend in Mexico, and -- is it not painfully clear that I don't know how to end this?
So yeah, Bleeding Kansas. I hope they* do it again next year, and I hope they force the Star people to take VIP passes so I can solve this Hearne/Finn mystery once and for all.
*"They" are Jacki Becker and her crew at UptoEleven Productions. Good work, kids!
Wuhhhh. Someone please tell me exactly when I became a child of Satan. Unless you've been living in a cocoon, you know that last night brought the Pitch Music Awards showcase to Westport. It was my goal to stay sane through the night, but this morning, my head hurts, my ears feel like they've recently received surgery, and my favorite short-sleeved button-up shirt has a button torn off.
That sartorial injury was incurred at the night's climax — namely, the Architects show at the Beaumont. I was down front and so was a woman who wanted to see my chest, evidently. Already pumped by a killer set from the Roman Numerals, we were ready to throw down -- I mean, I've never seen a mosh pit like that before in this town. I don't make a habit of going to many shows where seething pits of flailing humanity are likely to spring up, and I don't think many of the people who were in the pit last night do, either. Basically, they looked like a dinner crowd from McCoy's that had been given a side of Adderall with their Skillet Dip, kidnapped half the waitstaff and taken them down the street. This includes the brunette who spontaneously reached over and tried to rip open my shirt about a third of the way into the performance. Fortunately, I had my wits about me enough to see that the detached button was still sitting inside the hole, so I immediately slipped it into the crack pocket of my jeans and continued rocking.
And by the way, this was after my unsuccessful stage dive. Print this page and highlight and underline "unsuccessful" and draw arrows pointing to it to get the full meaning of the word. It was all the more disappointing because it was my first attempt at such a stunt, ever. Fairly early into the Architects' set (which, by the way, was preceded by an ass-kicking set from the Roman Numerals) — before my near disrobing -- I was standing in front of the Volkswagen-sized stack of speakers on the floor, stage left, letting the gusts of sound dry the beer off my crotch, when I turned to my friend Annie and said, "Hey, you think I should crowd surf?" She said "sure" because she, too, is an offspring of Lucifer, so I cleared the myriad cups and bottles off the top of the speaker stack in front of me, climbed atop, signaled to the crowd below (their heads at about ankle-level to me) my intention, and, after about three people responded by raising their hands, I flung myself downward.
How you say...oof?
Most of the motherfuckers simply moved out of the way (NICE), but luckily there were enough sympathetic audience members to break my fall so that I didn't crack my skull. Or maybe I was just ragdoll-ified by the two giant margaritas I'd consumed at the Beach Club. In any case, I survived and continued to fling myself about to the awesome show, albeit not from such great heights.
And that was only a small snippet from the wondrous evening -- pick up next week's Pitch for the Wayward Son's full report of the evening.
Oh, and if the woman who ripped open my shirt is reading this, um... call me?
It's here, kids, the best night of the year for local music in Kansas City (IMHO). And even though your favorite group may not have made the cut, there's more than enough action down in Westport to satisfy even the snobbiest scenester.
First, note that some of the venues and lineups have changed. Despite what I wrote here, the DJs tonight will not be split between the Beaumont parking lot and Karma. All the DJs will spin tonight at Karma. Noise ordinances in Westport made having them play outside impractical, so they'll heat up Karma doing back-to-back hourlong sets. I kinda like that better anyway — massive DJ kicks all in one place. I was correct, however, in saying that the bands that were scheduled to play inside at the Hurricane have been moved to the Beach Club. Namelessnumberheadman kicks off with its not exactly tropical but sweeter-than-a-pineapple sounds at 8:30.
For descriptions of each band nominated for a PMA, click here.
Though I won't blame you for filling out a ballot at the show tonight, if at all possible, go ahead and vote online. If you do cast a ballot tonight, be sure to fill in your name and address so we know you're not filling out multiple ballots — not that you would do that, of course, my dear. By the way, doesn't our logo this year look cool? We're calling it "cuddly goth."
See you tonight.
LATE-BREAKING SHIT: The Pendergast/Drams show that was supposed be at Mike's has been moved to the Brick, 8 p.m. tonight. More info below the following rant.
US Soldiers in Iraq — now that's a touchy subject. So I'm not sure what to do about this but just point you to this dude and let you decide for yourself: Kansas City, meet Major Mike. (For instant jams, click his Myspace).
Corrado is a North Carolina-born Kansas City transplant (24th Marine regiment) who spent a year in Falluja and just got back last March. Before that, well, here, let me just quote his press release — it's sort of convoluted: "Corrado, an infantry officer with the US Marines originally served his active duty commitment then exited active duty to pursue a music career. After leaving active duty in 1997, he hit the road as a singer/songwriter performing 250-300 shows a year as a headliner as well as opening act for large national acts: John Mayer, Edwin McCain, Train, Vertical Horizon and many more. Mike and his band had been touring for 4 years when the September 11th attacks came. Corrado was then recalled back to active duty and later deployed to Fallujah where he was awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious achievement in connection with the support of combat operations in Iraq."
There you go. Yesterday, he tried out on NBC's Star Tomorrow contest. I don't know how he did or even where to find him on the contest's Web site. I guess it hasn't been posted yet.
Anyway, judging by a listen to some of the good major's songs, he was on the road with similar company back in our happily oblivious, pre-9/11 America. OK, I think I will talk about Mike's music. After all, just because he put his life on the line for this country doesn't mean it should be taboo for a lazy, liberal fuckup like me to say what I think about his songs (nor should I be intimidated by the possibility that he could cut out my eye with a boot knife in three seconds).
I realize that as a soldier, the major's a Bronze Star-winning badass, but when he picks up a guitar — dude. There are people who are into this kind of music, and these people are known as soccer moms. Anyone who likes it and isn't a soccer mom is probably drunk.
Also, though it's a heartfelt ditty, I'm not a fan of the war song Mike's pushing, "On My Watch Tonight," which contains the lyric: My blood runs red, white and blue / I'll brave the cold, the rain, the pain, the bullets / So you don't have to. etc. etc.I'll keep you safe on my watch tonight. I would just prefer the guy not be such a sap. With all due respect, you spend a year in the arduous, potentially deadly conditions of wartime Iraq, and the best you got is a patriotic love song? I'm not saying dude's gotta write a protest anthem, but let's at least cut down on the schmaltz. It's war for God's sake!
Now that I've alienated everyone good in America, let me recommend a cool show going on tonight at the Brick. It's the first anniversary of Slimm's Boozeday Tuesdays matinee showcase, and to celebrate, ol' Slimm's got locals Pendergast and Texans the Drams, playing hourlong sets beginning at 8. The show was supposed to be at Mike's, but for some reason that bar had to close for a few days. Brick owner Sheri Parr suspects that it's because of a new test the city is running wherein an inspector fills sinks, drains them, and if any water bubbles up in an adjacent, empty sink, you have to shut down until you get it fixed. R-I-D-I-C-U-L-O-U-S. That's not verified as the reason Mike's had to close abruptly, but it's a plausible theory, no? Tuesdays at the Brick bring cheap tacos and 2-for-1 drinks, so I'd say this is quite a felicitous occurrence.
Anyway, the bands: we all know and love Pendergast, the platform for Tony Ladesich's great songwriting. The Drams are new-old band, led by Brent Best, who used to sing in a Denton, Texas, band called Slobberbone that was really great. They were back when alt-country was way underground, when taking country classic "Dark as a Dungeon" and turning it into a longhaired, dirty lament was still pretty foreign. With the Drams, Best brings in a pop sensibility that Teenage Fanclub fans could get behind, and he doesn't lose any of the backroads grit he's best known for. I saw the Drams open for the Drive-By Truckers at SXSW, and it was pretty awesome.
Esteemed Pitch fellow Andy Vihstadt attended Sunday night's Go! Team concert at The Granada. Here's his report, short and only a little sweet:
The Go! Team is a bit of a novelty act, so I expected to see a room full of Welcome Back Kotter afros and knee-high athletic socks. Surprisingly, though, Go! Team fans don't seem to drink or smoke like the typical Granada crowd (I found myself alone at both troughs). It could have been the oppressive heat, but I think it was mainly a testament to the group's ability to put on a show. Its six members, three of which hopped back and forth between instruments, were as fun to watch as a "Bring It On" style pep rally. Ummm. So where were the horns coming from? Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. The handful of new songs that made the set list were as promising as anything on the debut, but like most novelties, and pep rallies for that matter, an hour was the most I could stomach.
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