Margo May, last year's winner of "Best Emerging Act" at The Pitch Music Awards, heads to Portland, Oregon, on January 17 for an undetermined amount of time in order to work on her next record. But fans of the songstress were treated to one last show at RecordBar, where she was joined by her friends Oriole Post and the Sunday Paper.
Oriole Post kicked off the evening with its sweet and subtle brand of bluegrass. With a vocal style that's as country-pure as Allison Krauss, lead singer Rachel Bonar is a delight onstage, full of easy smiles and cheerful banter. The band played its set to a steadily growing crowd, and bid farewell to Ms. May with a romping, boot-stomping number that would make any bubblegum-chewing cowgirl proud.
The Sunday Paper was up next, trading the sugary bluegrass of the Oriole Post for its fast-talking, whiskey-laden alt rock. Strangely, the band seemed confused onstage, as if it forgot it was playing a show. The Sunday Paper worked through some technical difficulties with wry jokes and vulgar banter. In what seemed like an effort to drown the stage sorrows, the entire band ordered a round of drinks onstage. It was a motion that was entirely rock-and-roll, or completely asinine.
When it was finally Margo May's turn to pick up her electric guitar, she brought RecordBar back to bubblegum and lollipops with her sweet voice and diary-page lyrics. Along with keyboardist Grant Buell on the Rhodes, Margo smiled and strummed through reverb-heavy songs of lost love and childhood wonder.
After two Elliott Smith covers -- Margo explained, "I'm moving to Portland so I'm going to play two Elliott Smith covers, in a row" -- Buell took a seat in the audience, and Margo finished the set with three new solo songs. This seemed to be an ode to her adventures ahead and a lament to Kansas City itself. After a piece about busking (is this her Portland plan?), she finished the night off on a bittersweet note. As her voice rang out through the bar, she sang, The burnout that is this town ... . It lingered in the air like the sting of a bad breakup. Regardless, Kansas City is unapologetic for its love affair with Margo, and she will surely be missed.