Archive for June, 2013

A Response to “The Best Kansas City Music of 2013 – So Far”

As you may have guessed I’m a bit dissatisfied with KCUR’s “The Best Kansas City Music of 2013 – So Far,” written by Steve Kraske and Kaitlin Brennan. This program aired midday, June 26, 2013 in conjunction with several, local Kansas City music figures; Michelle Bacon, Bill Brownlee, and Chris Haghirian. All three of these individuals are dedicated, selfless supporters of local music, but I feel something may have been missed in their curation.

My issue with the program is not in terms of quality of selection, but with its homogeneity and predictability, and that these problems are commonplace. Seems Jazz, Americana, Indie Rock, and Rock are very well represented Kansas City’s media, critics, and promoters, but when last I looked the Kansas City scene had much more to offer.

Underrepresented are the slew of Psychedelic/garage rock resurgent acts, the experimental and avant-garde, as well as electronic musicians, DJ’s, and ethnic acts. Absent still is anything remotely punk, hardcore, and metal (with maybe the exception of The Architects, who are still more rock than anything). The entirety of the selection reads almost like a list of “Things White People Like.” Which may seem extreme until you notice there is only one hip-hop/rap selection.

This occurrence was, unfortunately, not a surprise. Anyone who regularly goes to shows or thumbs through The Pitch, Ink, or The Star would know that a lot of the bands selected are extremely well represented. It follows that a band with more press and higher reputation would be first when considering a “Best Of” list. Constantly providing coverage of and promoting the same musicians and bands creates a feedback loop and leaves some members of the community with the sense that, “This is all there is,” which is roundly untrue and culturally hazardous.

Admittedly, exposing audiences to unfamiliar music is also risky. Music writers don’t want to lose their hard-earned following to the likes of Cumulus/Clear Channel monotony. However, if there is any hope of creating a more diverse and open cultural community then what other option is there? As much as I abhor “Best Of” lists in principal, I feel a better sense of quality, local music could be conveyed through a selection of more diverse critics and writers to curate them. While it may be the duty of all critics, promoters, and writers to strive for a more complete knowledge of music, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and suggest that the reason there are no electronic, experimental, or avant-garde musicians is because there were no critics on the panel that specialized in those areas. Hopefully vast portions of KC’s music culture were not overlooked simply because the critics or producers of this program did not care or thought the ratings would suffer otherwise.

Once a more diverse network of music writers, promoters, and critics is more vocal toward the community, it’s likely Kansas City residents will begin to demand, cultivate, and support more diverse forms of music. If we fail to do this Kansas City will remain homogenous and insular, with one wave of musicians commanding the attention of the audiences until their sound  becomes old and they are replaced by the next generation. While this occurs other midwest cities such as Minneapolis and Chicago will continue to produce acts that are both locally and nationally respected and we’ll get to compete with Lawrence for having them play in our city.


Below is a link to the original story, listen and decide for yourself:

Performed May 30, 2013 at The Walnut Place Laundromat, Kansas City, Missouri

Ashley Tini 5/30/13, Photo by Sean Starowitz

Ashley Tini 5/30/13, Photo by Sean Starowitz

Von's Stuff 5/30/13, Photo by Sean Starowitz

Von’s Stuff 5/30/13, Photo by Sean Starowitz





















The Walnut Place Laundromat has been the chic spot for Kansas City music the last couple of months thanks to the open mind of owner Wally Badejo and the hard work of artist Sean Starowitz. While it’s popularity is palpable many of the attendees are probably unaware of the lineage of Laundromat music venues which starts with the famous Sudsy Malone’s Rock N’ Roll Laundry and Bar (now defunct) in Cincinnati. From 1986 to 2008 many influential and famous acts passed through Sudsy’s including Yo La Tengo, Modest Mouse, Built To Spill, and 3RA1N1AC along with legions of other lesser known hardcore, punk, and metal bands. Now Byproduct: The Laundromat, Starowitz’s latest alternative-arts-programming-social-practice endeavor, carries that torch.

The first performers of the night were Ashley Tini and Von Hansen, two percussion majors from Kansas University. During their near 40 minute set they played two compositions each, one of which was an original. Von commanded the limited “stage space” while Ashley sprawled her various instruments and accessories across the main Laundromat floor. The dynamic range of their pieces was wide and their timbres unconventional. They achieved these effects through various extended techniques of electronic manipulation, homemade instruments, prepared instruments, and alternative means of striking their instruments. In Ashley’s first piece (track 2) you can plainly hear her tearing paper (sheet music) and using marbles as well as other household objects on her tamtam, while Von talks briefly in track 3, It’s Like the Nothing Never Was, about the homemade instruments he is using which include the guts of a grandfather clock. Let me emphasize that these two people had a lot of gear. Not only were all of Ashley’s percussion instruments huge, but Von set up a five point surround sound system in addition to his stage full of make shift toys and electronic gear. It seemed to take them almost as long to load out as it did to perform. Their performance was well received by the audience and I personally enjoyed their selections, but allow me to pose a question: in the world of compositional music who is greater, the composer or the performer?

Listen to Ashley Tini’s and Van Hansen’s set now with the embed below (37:14)

Listen to Ashley Tini and Von Hansen’s set later, with tracks already separated, with the mediafire download below

Set List for Ashley Tini and Von Hansen

1. Canotila (Composed by Mike McFerron, performed by Von Hansen)

2. Resonance of The Corner Less (Composed by Austin Yip, performed by Ashley Tini) (12:01)

3. It’s Like the Nothing Never Was (Composed and Performed by Von Hansen) (18:43)

4. Rebonds B (Composed by Xenakis, Performed by Ashley Tini) (31:20)

For more Ashley Tini and Von Hansen click the links below

Metatone 5/30/13, Photo by Sean Starowitz

Metatone 5/30/13, Photo by Sean Starowitz











Much later, following the massive load out of the previous performers and after waiting for the delivery of a functional electric bass guitar, Metatone took the stage. Metatone is Ashley Miller’s newest genre band that blends Afro-pop styling with humorous lyrics that cleverly address his personal turmoils (and a happy belated birthday to her) and triumphant recoveries. Metatone is also very much a family affair as his father Gary contributes vocals, percussion, and harmonica and his sister Abbi provides lead female vocals. The biggest surprise of the night was finding Ian Teeple now filling in on bass. Though I will always have a soft spot for their former bassist Hank Eddins, the young Ian was a more than adequate substitute. As usual they were accompanied with Rhys Ziemba on guitar, Jon Kraft on Drums, and the enigmatic Rabbit Killer on the makeshift electric fiddle. The riason d’être for the show was the release of Metatone’s self-titled album which was available for purchase as an impressive, sexy 12″ vinyl record. I suspect they sold a fair number of them as the event and the beer was free, and the crowd was burgeoning and enthusiastic. There was little space to traverse the catwalk while Metatone performed in the small lounge area, but the main floor was filled with shimmying coeds slowly becoming more and more sweaty. I hugged the wall and kept to my recorder which may have been a bad decision as it attracted the attention of the slightly inebriated A. Bitterman whom you can credit for the defamatory interruption during the middle of track 7, Rururu. Thankfully a request from audience member Drew Roth lead Metatone to perform my favorite song, Dark Empress, before they called it a night.


Listen to Metatone’s set now with the embed below (1:06:11)

Listen to Metatone’s set later, with tracks already separated, with the mediafire download below

Set List for Metatone

1. Unknown 1

2. Gemiknife (7:25)

3. When The Dreams Come (12:36)

4. 2 Fine 4 Time (19:30)

5. Unknown 2 (25:37)

6. Happy Rebirthday (33:33)

7. Rururu (38:18)

8. Theme (42:54)

9. Unknown 3 (48:56)

10. Unknown 4 (54:12)

11. Fear Pressure (58:13)

12. Dark Empress (1:02:18)

For more Metatone click the link below

These recordings were posted with permission of the performers so throw em’ a bone and support them by going to their shows and buying their music. If you like my poor recordings of them, then throw ME a bone and subscribe. Thank you.

Performed May 29, 2013 at Harling’s, Kansas City, MO

It’s significant when two touring bands show up to a sleezy KC dive bar in the middle of a May rainstorm, still manage to make some money, and play to 60 plus people. Maybe it means the local openers Sneaky Creeps and Meat Mist can draw a crowd, the flyering and social media promotion worked, or Harling’s is very, very well loved? It is definitely evidence that the KC community will support smaller, alternative touring acts if given the right conditions.

By most anyone’s standards The Funeral And The Twilight (TFATT for short) are not a pop group. Their sounds and themes point towards a kind of satanism, or at the very least a deeply macabre cynicism. This “dark” asssociation is why when they manage to coerce nearly $70 in donations from the crowd and sell a bit of merch, I consider it a fairly astounding feat. Chances are, if KC can maintain a habit of making bands feel welcomed, like The Funeral And The Twilight, then more bands will want to play here. This not only means more shows, but potential for better, bigger shows.

TFATT themselves are a Minneapolis three piece comprised of Benjamin Jones on guitar and vocals, Noah Schafer on bass, and Brandon Keegan on drums. I have never seen any of these guys wear anything but black, and with the exception of Brandon, everyone has a gigantic beard. They came to KC with another group, Dusty Santamaria And The Singing Knives, from Portland. TFATT was driving them around on their tour and KC was their last stop before heading back to Portland, while TFATT went back to Minnesota. While the comparisons may be easier to draw from recordings, it was harder for me to find the ties between Dusty and TFATT. Dusty seemed like a performer, a professional musician trying to make a name or something, and sometimes the act came off a little forced. TFATT however seemed to just want to bury you alive. What always seems to surprise me are their longer passages of unaccompanied instrumentation. I say this because Benjamin strikes me as the type of front man that puts a lot of care and thought into his lyrics, so I automatically assume he wants to employ them as much as possible. Fortunately TFATT is not above pulling away from  morose singer/songwriter posturing in order to melt a few faces. Oh, they also “punk” as well as the rest of them.


Listen to TFATT’s set now with the embed below (23:43)

Listen to TFATT’s set later with tracks already separated with the mediafire download below

Set List for The Funeral And The Twilight

1. Crusaders Of Death

2. Church Burner (1:30)

3. Sabina Isabella Pena (6:30)

4. Human King (9:55)

5. Salacity Pure (11:40)

6. Speak It’s Name (12:14)

7. Wipe The Blood (13:25)

8. Make This Man (17:09)

For more TFATT click the links below

These recordings were posted with the permission of the gentlemen in The Funeral And The Twilight. If you enjoy their music and my shitty recording of it then show your support by buying some of their stuff and subscribing to Big Urges.

Performed May 17, 2013 at The Middle East, Kansas City, MO

Marquee Board, Photo By Sadie Pike

Marquee Board, Photo By Sadie Pike

Wett Nurse, Photo By Andrew Erdrich

Wett Nurse, Photo By Andrew Erdrich























Despite a population of only 20,000 citizens, Marquett is the biggest city in the Upper Penninsula (U.P.) of Michigan. It also boasts the large, 10,000 student Northern Michigan University, whose football team plays their home games in the world’s largest wooden dome, the Superior Dome. Hooray Wildcats. Marquett is also the hometown of Wett Nurse, a concise, lo-fi, psych band. Upon their 2010 inception the band consisted of Anastasia Vlasta Greer and Matt Lynch, but have since expanded to around 4 or, at times, 5 members. When they last visited KC a few weeks ago Greer (keys) and Lynch (guitar) were there along side Matt Bullock (bass) and Nick Erickson (drums). Nick was also sharing duties as the drummer of the other Marquett area band on tour, Sycamore Smith and The Gray Beast. The night was opened by Sneaky Creeps and closed by Stiff Knight and the Hard Ensemble, both KC locals. Somewhere in the mix fellow KC friends Wayne Pain and The Shit Stains played.

Wett Nurse’s set was less than half an hour but they still managed to play a dozen songs, break a string or two, and throw in a cover of The Sonics’ tune The Witch. They also managed to maintain their momentum from song to song despite a few restarts which may bother some and seem like a sign of amateurism, but I personally don’t go to basement shows to hear music recitals. These guys are definitely garage rockers which means you can’t hear the vocals for shit, but a good number of their songs don’t have vocals anyway (or I just couldn’t tell). The crowd was a little small, but perhaps we can chalk that up to collective laziness in promotion/venue accessibility. I know I personally didn’t hang any flyers. At some point there were actually about 20 people, but 4 or 5 left after a man showed up to the adjoining house with a gunshot wound he received a couple blocks away. Even though he was only looking to use a phone to call for some help the whole event still spooked a good number people away. Maybe this is why it’s hard to get a good, consistent draw to The Middle East. Wett Nurse played on, oblivious to the events next door, with catchy keyboard hooks and driving guitar a plenty. They were followed by compatriots Sycamore Smith and The Gray Beast who played a solid set of anti-folk, electro-acoustic, singer/songwriter songs. Sycamore Smith… is returning with some other Michigan friends in August, which means KC has another chance to show some hospitality, and I’ll be writing about another Marquett band in the foreseeable future.


Listen to Wett Nurse’s set now with the embed below (27:48)

Listen to Wett Nurse’s set later with tracks already separated with the mediafire download below

Track List For Wett Nurse

1. Man Beast

2. Unknown 1 (1:35)

3. SPOOK IT (4:16)

4. Ride My Rootbeer Barrel (7:44)

5.  Bring Me Your Satans (9:22)

6. Unknown 2 (11:44)

7. Summer Cummers (14:02)

8. Unknown 3 (16:20)

9. The Witch (18:19, The Sonics cover)

10. Throne Of Bones (21:06)

11. Wett Dreams (22:47)

12 Imperial Reaction (25:07)

For More Wett Nurse go to their website:

This recording was posted with permission from the very wonderfully pleasant people of Wett Nurse. Cheers!