There's often a dearth of the "show must go on" attitude among opening bands when the headliner cancels. In last night's case, Brooklyn's Talk Normal and its tour mates, Wet Hair, got stranded in Denver due to a van breakdown and the stage at the Jackpot was given over to local bands.
Considering that it was a Sunday night and Talk Normal isn't huge or even very well-known by anybody in this town (myself included), the crowd probably would have been just as small had they showed. But the night was far from a total loss for the audience. I've noticed that when local bands top the bill, they seem more confident -- the pressure gets turned off and everyone seems to have a great time. And naturally, that's what happened last night.
Though I know basically nothing about Muscle Worship, this relatively new band fucking rules. Someone told me that one of the guys played in Wichita's Paper Airplanes, but other than that, I know nothing about these people, other than that they are really, really good. Think D.C. post-hardcore, notably the Dismemberment Plan and Q and Not U, and you've got a pretty good base for where these guys are coming from.
Singer/guitarist Sean Bergman is an insanely talented guitarist to the point of it becoming frustrating. No one in this town plays with such intricate detail and certainly no one uses as much whammy bar. The music is complex without being too full of itself, which is a hard thing to find these days and super exciting to see happening in Lawrence.
Bandit Teeth always come off like a band formed by high school best friends. You know, the kind of band where no one really knew how to play at first but they just did it for kicks? I'm pretty sure they didn't form in high school, but Bandit Teeth are approaching the ten-year anniversary of their formation, even though those ten years include a seven-year hiatus.
It seems every time I see them they get a little better: a little tighter, a little more like a cohesive unit despite all three members contributing lead vocals, effectively dividing the set up into thirds. Brad Shanks comes off as a more unhinged version of Thurston Moore. Charley Downey evokes as a brattier, more trebly version of Jonathan Richman. Zach Campbell comes off as a less drunk version of Bob Pollard. These influences make up a perfect storm of mid-'90s alt-rock, played with noisy, giddy excitement.
Though they lied about playing a NOFX cover, which would have severely made my night, they still proved themselves to be one of the best bands Lawrence has to offer.
Basically, both of these bands put on excellent shows and strengthened my appreciation for local music. Five years ago, it seemed that every band in Lawrence sounded the same, and now there's a decent amount of diversity and a decent number of these bands are really exciting.
It's like there's no bullshit anymore. Used to be that to deride local music, no matter what the quality, was a crime. But now a decent number of bands from the Lawrence/KC area are eradicating the "it's good...for local music" syndrome once and for all and just making music that is really, legitimately, unfuckwithably good.