Saturday, July 28
The Replay Lounge
Better Than: Getting hugged by a sweaty, shirtless man.
The scene Saturday night at the Replay Lounge in Lawrence was infernal. There must have been nothing else going on that night in Larryville -- either that or the Volunteers and the Pomonas are (or, in the Pomonas' case, were) bigger than I and my fellow KC pilgrims thought.
By 11:30 p.m., the patio was crowded as hell and continuing to fill with bright young Lawrence things seeking cheap thrills -- a $2 cover and $1.50 PBRs. Inside, where the bands were playing, the temperature was in the 80s and getting more sweltering as the room filled with bodies, even though the bartender I talked to said that the air conditioning was indeed on. (Maybe it was because the doors were open?)
The crowd for the Volunteers was paying to be there.
I was stoked to see the Pomonas, a merry band of guitar tricksters who bounce between the Strokes (in that band's cheerier days) and the Monkees (but with instrumental chops). It was to be their last show before frontman Justin Ripley left to join bandmate Andy Gassaway in Seattle, where the Pomonas' bassist moved several months ago, presaging the death of the band. Earlier this year, over a period of eight days, the Pomonas banged out their second full-length album, Good Cop, Good Cop, and it's full of good pop and better pop. I wish that had been the case for the other bands on the bill.
The first band to play, the Magic Boyfriends, was the ill-conceived child of Gassaway. Maybe they had indeed never practiced before, as Gassaway, on vocals and guitar, claimed after the first near-trainwreck of a song, but it was clear they'd practiced at least twice in their history -- and that both of those times were the first band rehearsals ever for some of the band members. The Boyfriends had planned to play only two songs, but after they'd run through a couple of simple, inoffensive, repetitive punk songs -- on which Gassaway was the only person playing the right notes at the right time -- the audience called for more. The Magic Boyfriends did not, however, make it through an encore.
The Volunteers came on professional but innocuous, with peppy, well-kempt, strummy ballads fit for slide-show presentations on gardening designed by the morale officer of Niceguyland.
I do not object to light fare or demand that all bands rock out. But the Volunteers haven't yet developed the spark or ingenuity that will make their soft, folksy songs compelling.
A pint of sweat and one shed shirt later, the Pomonas were ready to go.
Woo! went the crowd.
Or, rather, guy in the crowd.
Yeah! went the Pomonas back.
And that's about all we saw.
Well, actually, we witnessed a total of four songs before pussing out. And none of them was "Sister Smoke."
Or any of their awesomest songs, which they were saving for the end because they have a lot of fucking good ones. But we were just too sober and drug-free to put up with the full-body sweat of ourselves and most everyone else in the room.
I'm sorry for the anticlimactic ending, y'all. The Pomonas rocked until they stopped, I have no doubt. And I have high hopes that Ripley and Gassaway will continue belching out the killer hooks up in Seattle. I'd even consider flying out to see them next summer.
Provided it's in a well-ventilated setting.
Personal Bias: I'm spoiled.
Random Detail: In my concert preview, I'd cursed the Pomonas for moving out of town and taking their girlfriends with them. That was just a joke, an appeal to the universal experience of the non-band-guy coveting the band-guy's girlfriend. I felt compelled to go up to Justin Ripley and explain that I didn't have the hots for his girlfriend, who was there and who is moving to Seattle with him. May they go forth and brood!
By the Way: Why's everybody leaving?