Performed October 5, 2013 at The Middle East in Kansas City, Missouri

Torben in the red-lit basement of The Middle East, Phote by Andy Erdrich

Torben in the red-lit basement of The Middle East, Photo by Andrew Erdrich

In the short span of their existence Torben garnered high esteem within the KC underground for delivering unforgivable, riff laden, heavy metal. This three piece matriarch of death is composed of Danni Parelman on guitar, Anna St. Louis on bass, and Libby Zanders on drums. Their untimely end is a result of bassist Anna St. Louis, who also pulls double-duty in Bloodbirds, moving out of town.

Torben‘s popularity was evident when upon witnessing the sheer number of people who turned out for their their last showing at The Middle East. The double backyard was so full it made me wonder if anyone was even inside to watch the bands. All doubts were dashed once I realized the basement was too packed to accommodate another person. Torben‘s set was modest, only about 30 minutes, but the crowd urged them for an encore and were rewarded with a truncated version of Motörhead‘s “Lost Johnny.”

Among the artifacts Torben leave behind are a short five song, self-titled demo; this live recording; and perhaps another (most likely better mixed) version of the same show, courtesy of Mike Tuley. As for the future, Parelman and Zanders are still playing in Peace Warriors alongside Jordan Carr of Dark Ages, so maybe seeing them will fill the newly created Torben shaped void in your head. No guarantees.

-AWE

Listen to Torbens set now with the embed below (32:26)

Listen to Torben’s set later, with tracks already separated, by clicking the mediafire link below

http://www.mediafire.com/folder/phnsta73qnd33/Torben

Set List for Torben

1. Second Coming [Alice Cooper cover]

2. Blood (2:03)

3. Burning World (4:20)

4. Working Man’s Sabbath (6:31)

5. Mother Sludge (9:23)

6. Psyched to Die [Deep Wound cover] (12:16)

7. Runner (14:12)

8. Zone Boss (18:46)

9. Deposer (20:48)

10. Guts [Budgie] (23:58)

11. Heavy Loader (27:04)

12.Lost Johnny [Mötorhead cover] (30:51)

For More Torben click the link below

http://torben.bandcamp.com/

This recording was created with permission from the stand up members of Torben, who will be missed both as a symbols of strong independent women and for their impeccable skill in melting faces. Mothers of sludge, may your ghost live on!

If you like this blog then kindly share it, subscribe to it, leave some comments, and keep reading. Also, a facebook page for Big Urges has been recently created find it here at https://www.facebook.com/bigurges, so click it for more bonus material and like the page to help spread the word!

Performed September 28, 2013 at Front Space in Kansas City, Missouri

Calvin Johnson dancing while singing an a cappella version of a Hive Dwellers tune, Photo by Andrew Erdrich

Calvin Johnson dancing while singing an a cappella version of a The Hive Dwellers “Sitting Alone At the Movies.” Photo by Andrew Erdrich

Any review of Calvin Johnson is obliged to mention his place as the Grand-Wizard of the Northwestern underground, earned through his founding of K Records and his lead role in such influential bands as Beat Happening, Dub Narcotic Sound System, and The Halo Benders. As significant as Johnson may be, the indie underground circuit is still–cough, cough–underground. So we find our hero at the modest yet adequate Front Space, an intimate gallery located just blocks from Kansas City’s new performing arts center, plopped in the middle of the crossroads arts district. The numerous onlookers are cozied up, seated on the ground smiling while completely rapt by Johnson’s sing-song story time. Days after, the occasional lament from those who, “Would have attended had I known about it,” doesn’t surprise me in the least; legendary cult status carries no guarantees of wide distribution, street teams, or promotional reach.

Johnson’s set was mostly acoustic, with intermittent a cappella pieces, all combined with free form dancing (pictured above). In fact, if you listen closely to the recording, you can here subtle variations in the sounds of his voice and guitar coinciding with a sudden twirl or a moment of turning his back on the audience. It’s all part of the show, which of course can sometimes fail to be adequately captured via recording (aural or visual). Years ago when Johnson’s first solo album “dropped” reviewer William Bowers was aggravated by the lack of drums and overbearing presence of vocal-only-tunes. He may not have taken into account Johnson’s at-the-time-newly-realized path of (what he calls in track 14) a traveling, wayfaring, troubadour. As such, Johnson’s true value as a performer may be bound to the “You had to have been there” qualities of the troubadours, where record is a wanting replacement for in-person experience.

-AWE

Listen to Calvin Johnson’s set now with the embed below (1:07:00)

Listen to Calvin Johnson’s set later, with tracks already separated, by clicking the mediafire link below

http://www.mediafire.com/folder/qd7mktwsr32fz/Calvin_Johnson

Set List for Calvin Johnson

1. Ambulance Driver Blues [Amelia, Peter, Scott + Calvin]

2. Love Will Come Back Again (3:08)

3. Unknown [Lazy Mondays*] (7:06)

4. Unknown [Gallow’s Wine*] (10:57)

5. Sitting Alone At the Movies [The Hive Dwellers] (13:42)

6. Pine Shaped Box [The Hive Dwellers](18:16)

7. Can We Kiss? (22:30)

8. Apple To The Core** (26:53)

9. Farmer’s Market Interlude (30:30)

10. Kick These Boots** (33:13)

11. When You Are Mine (36:58)

12. Unknown [Every Woman*] (43:52)

13. Somebody’s Phone Is Ringing [The Hive Dwellers] (46:18)

14. Recycled Sounds Interlude (48:56)

15. Shake-A-Puddin’ [Dub Narcotic Sound System] (50:41)

16. Diamonds Are Forever [Shirley Bassey] (54:40)

17. Platinum Slumbers [The Halo Benders, Unreleased] (57:48)

18. Get In [The Hive Dwellers] (1:02:01)

For More Calvin Johnson, K Records, or other affiliated acts click the link below

http://shop.krecs.com/

I’m also including a link to my favorite Beat Happening track out of sheer self-indulgence. Enjoy!

When I asked Calvin Johnson if I could make this recording he replied, “Do whatever you want,” which I always do anyway, but thanks to Calvin for that affirmation. Show your affirmation for him and his efforts by supporting K Records and the litany of bands on their roster. If you like this blog then kindly share it, subscribe to it, leave some comments, and keep reading. Thanks much!

*These are my working titles for these songs as I was unable to find a precedent for them somewhere else

**This song has been titled and credited in other places but I am unable to find it on a specific recording anywhere

Performed September 26, 2013 at The Brick in Kansas City, Missouri

Keith Rankin, a.k.a. Giant Claw, performing. Photo by Andrew Erdrich

Keith Rankin, a.k.a. Giant Claw, performing. Photo by Andrew Erdrich

Electronic night at The Brick opened with the premier of Kansas City’s Human Traffic, who managed to smuggle in their underage member Anthony, but weren’t able to keep the lid on it. Funny to me, but not the bar staff. Closing the evening was local DIY favorite Scammers who wasted no time harassing the audience and the sound man. Combine the two acts and you’ve antagonized everyone on either side of the bar.

Sandwiched between the locals acts was the socially passive Giant Claw from Ohio. The sole member of Giant Claw, Keith Rankin, performed several lengthy, improvisational pieces. While at times meandering, Rankin shied away from extended soloing in favor of reiteration of melodic phrases and arpeggios. By avoiding self-indulgence and emphasizing repetition, the music remained meditative and introverted, even when it had groove.

During the performance the bar was rife with chatter from the crowd whose limited participation relegated Giant Claw’s performance to background music for a conversation. However, Rankin didn’t seem to mind and he kept the sounds flowing. This apparent laid back demeanor may belie his prolific output and eye to detail. Case in point; he sound-checked his microphone only to briefly introduce himself and make a plug for his suitcase full of tapes and vinyl, all of which happen to be distributed from his own label Orange Milk.

-AWE

Listen to Giant Claw’s set now with the embed below (32:27)

Listen to Giant Claw’s set later, with tracks already separated, by clicking the mediafire link below*

http://www.mediafire.com/folder/qf9jah3494j8a/Giant_Claw

Set list for Giant Claw*

1. Untitled

2. Untitled II (14:43)

3. Untitled III (27:26)

For More Giant Claw click the links below

http://giantclaw.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Giant-Claw/191804144175430

This recording was made and posted with permission of Kieth Rankin, who’s not just a musician, but a really nice guy. Help a nice guy eat by visiting his webpages and purchasing some wares. If you like post/blog then leave a comment, share with your friends, and subscribe. Bye now!

*Editor’s Note: Since these songs are improvisational, they are untitled and transition from one into without pause. As it’s not overtly evident where one song ends and the other begins, I’ve separated tracks in a way that seemed to make the most sense to me.

Performed September 16, 2013 at Prospero’s Uptown in Kansas City, Missouri

Billy Mack and friend Ruthie Miller, Photo By Andrew Erdrich

Billy Mack and friend Ruthie Miller, Photo By Andrew Erdrich

Sometimes it’s difficult to predict how a concert is going to turn out. I booked this show as a favor to Kyle Klipowicz (a.k.a. Bowl of Dust & Co., a performer that evening), who wanted a show in an unconventional venue. Sure, it’s no laundromat, but I’ve never seen a show at Prospero’s Uptown, though they are rumored to host them. Combine the low profile performance space with dreary weather and a competing punk show just up the street, and you could have the makings of a very poorly attended concert. Indeed, as the first act JAMetatone began performing, the room was very sparse. But just as the first set started rolling the audience started growing. By the time Bowl of Dust & Co. began there were nearly 30 people in the crowd.

Billy Mack Collector featured two musicians; the namesake Billy Mack, and his friend Ruthie MillerBilly played guitar and took lead vocals, while Ruthie switched between shakers, a toy piano, mandolin, marimba, and supplied backing vocals. Billy Mack Collector’s set was filled with brief and concise happy songs, wordplay, and, despite the variety of instruments present, an earnest, stripped down production. In fact, all the other performers that night (JAMetatone, Bowl of Dust & Co., & Margo May) played with a very bare-bones setup. There wasn’t even a microphone present!

In the end the performers were granted an appreciative crowd, and the audience was able to enjoy four mellow performances inside a peaceful bookstore on a drizzly KC evening. Furthermore, Billy Mack Collector managed to earn enough money to break even for the day and continue on to the next show. So it’s a happy ending, not too happy, but nonetheless seemingly appropriate.

-AWE

Listen to Billy Mack Collector’s set now with the embed below (18:10)

Listen to Billy Mack Collector’s set later, with tracks already separated, by clicking the mediafire link below

http://www.mediafire.com/folder/2xbsf3p6rn8rh/Billy_Mack_Collector

Set list for Billy Mack Collector

1. Gone On The Weekends

2. Shrug Your Shoulds (1:37)

3. Onto The Back Roads (4:45)

4. Alright, Fine, Okay (8:57)

5. The Coast of Pennsylvania (11:47)

6. Saving The Whole World (16:01)

For More Billy Mack Collector click the links below

http://billymackcollector.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Billy-Mack-Collector/117807174232

http://billymackcollector.tumblr.com/

This recording was made and posted with permission of Billy Mack and Ruthie Miller. They happen to be very cool, so show them some love by buying some tapes, art, or whatever. If you like the blog then leave a comment, share with your friends, and follow. Peace!

Performed August 29, 2013 at FOKL in Kansas City, Kansas

No Age Performing a new track off "An Object", Photo by Tim Amundson

No Age Performing a new track off “An Object”, Photo by Tim Amundson

No Age‘s one night stand in Kansas City marked the fulfillment of more than a few teenage dreams. It was also a windfall occasion for local DIY venue FOKL, whose volunteer staff won’t need to pay the next month’s rent out of pocket.

To some it may be a surprise that No Age‘s booking agent approached FOKL instead of another venue. Other spaces could arguably be more accommodating in terms of stage production, space, and promotional capacities. However, it follows No Age‘s modus operandi to play at a place like FOKL. They even had their start in a similar space called The Smell back in Los Angeles.

Maybe No Age is on to something. Perhaps a DIY space gives you something a club or a bar cannot. Something like genuine hospitality. Sure, it’s nice to get drink tickets, but it’s not the same as a venue that grants anyone of any age, entrance for five bucks. It sucks playing shows in bars with a handful of attendees and a staff who is visibly annoyed that your band is wasting their time. On the other hand, if you play to a sparse room at someplace like FOKL, at least you can hangout with the venue dudes during the downtime.

Nevertheless, No Age probably doesn’t play to empty rooms that often these days, and when they do, it’s most likely not at places like The Smell or FOKL.

No Age was supported by fellow L.A. musician’s Protect Me and K.C.’s own Lazy.

-AWE

Listen to No Age’s set now with the embed below (48:47)

Listen to No Age’s set later, with tracks already separated, by clicking the mediafire link below

http://www.mediafire.com/folder/m5459qndb7dye/No_Age

Set list for No Age

1. Circling With Dizzy

2. Lock Box (3:55)

3. Teen Creeps (6:08)

4. You’re A Target (9:14)

5. Every Artist Needs A Tragedy (13:00)

6. I Won’t Be Your Generator (16:05)

7. A Ceiling Dreams Of A Floor (19:29)

8. Defector/Ed (21:54)

9. Glitter (24:36)

10. Eraser (27:57)

11. C’Mon Stimmung (30:39)

12. Ripped Knees (33:44)

13. Fever Dreaming (37:18)

14. Boy Void (41:04)

15. Miner (43:33)

16. Everybody’s Down (46:05)

For more No Age click the links below

http://www.subpop.com/artists/no_age

https://myspace.com/nonoage

http://noagela.blogspot.com/

Visit photographer Tim Amundson’s blog at

http://themastercollection.tumblr.com

This recording was not recorded or posted with the permission of the band. If the band or their label would like it removed then send an email to andrewerdrich@gmail.com. If you like the blog then re-post it, leave a comment, subscribe, or tell a friend. Cheers.

Performed August 13, 2013 at FOKL, in Kansas City, Kansas

Stiff Knight & The Hard Ensemble, 8/13/13, Photo by Andrew Erdrich

Stiff Knight & The Hard Ensemble, 8/13/13, Photo by Andrew Erdrich

This particular review may be masturbatory, but I’m probably the biggest fan Stiff Knight & The Hard Ensemble (SK&THE) has. They even dedicated the second song of their set to meWhat’s more, SK&THE don’t have another show scheduled going into the foreseeable future, because the Stiff Knight himself, Perry Kroll, is snowbirding in Arizona for the winter. So, while this review may be self-indulgent, it’s also a means of adding longevity to a group with an uncertain future.

There are many reasons to like a band, some of the more popular examples include; how loud they are, the genre of music they play, their technical ability, and production value. I’m drawn towards SK&THE for the spectacle. On any given night Stiff Knight & The Hard Ensemble could include anything from four to six members, depending on who has a ride, can get off work, or just wants to step on stage (such as this performance). This night’s set included four core members plus a guest from the audience.

Perry takes the lead swapping chords and lead notes between his chaos pad. Bassist Nicholas Bell remained motionless and stoic while performing the entire set in a bright blue bunny hat. Catherine Grimes, lead female vocalist, played ukelele (without amplification), slide whistle, and french horn. Catherine also doubles as the chief costume designer. She’s undoubtedly behind the giant pants her and Perry temporarily shared during performances (they put them on during track three, Warddrobe Change Interlude and wear them for the next composition), the face mask shaped like a lamb’s head, and the large, Terry Gilliam-esque cardboard semblance of F.D.R. who mouths along to their songs. Drummer Tommy Capps is seemingly the most square of the bunch, but frankly they need someone to keep the whole show on the rails. During the set guest player Summer Power can be heard playing an out-of-step snare. Combine their stage antics with their weirdo lyrics and you have yourself a contender for most entertaining show in town. I don’t like SK&THE to be blown away by craftsmanship, virtuosity, or overwhelming coolness; I like them because I always have a good time.

The various members of The Hard Ensemble may continue on in some capacity. Before the formation of SK&THE Nicholas headed his own project, Wire and String. Nicholas’ frequent collaboration with his girlfriend Catherine Grimes and Perry is what eventually led to the formation of SK&THE in the first place. Whether Wire & String reforms or another entity manifests entirely is yet to be determined. However, Perry won’t be in Arizona forever, so chances are Stiff Knight & The Hard Ensemble will return.

-AWE

Listen to Stiff Knight & The Hard Ensemble’s set now with the embed below (31:29)

Listen to Stiff Knight & the Hard Enemble’s set later, with tracks already separated, with the mediafire link below

http://www.mediafire.com/folder/wujuqmkxe8wqk/Stiff_Knight_%26_The_Hard_Ensemble

Set list for Stiff Knight & The Hard Ensemble

1. Bad Word

2. Two Kinds Of Cheese (4:07)

3. Wardrobe Change Interlude (6:48)

4. Chained For Life Hong Kong Flu (7:30)

5. Beth The Psychic (10:37)

6. I Know (13:30)

7. Goth Wop (15:55)

8. Gamer (19:35)

9. Sugar Skulls (21:59)

10. Twilight Zone (25:19)

11. Giants In The Desert (28:40)

For more Stiff Knight & The Hard Ensemble click the links below

http://stiffknightandthehardensemble.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stiff-Knight-and-The-Hard-Ensemble/172958902863625?ref=stream

This recording was made with the permission of Stiff Knight The Hard Ensemble, so if you like it send some love their way. With any luck they’ll receive it and come back to play again. If you enjoy the blog then leave a comment, share it with your friends, and subscribe.

Performed August 12, 2013 at The Middle East In Kansas City,  Missouri

Silence Dogood 8/12/13, Photo by Andrew Erdrich

Silence Dogood 8/12/13, Photo by Andrew Erdrich

Naming your band after an alias of Benjamin Franklin is an overt gesture in proclaiming your love of literature. Composing a song based off a short story by Mark Twain may be borderline obsessive. While waxing literary fixation, Silence Dogood deliver their sermons in the church built to the 90’s alternative rock gods, and, like any good zealot, they practice what they preach. As such, their music is lyrically driven and follows a straight forward lineup. This prolific three piece is composed of Nick Erickson on drums, Matt Bullock on bass, and Cameron Mahoney the guitarist and singer/songwriter.

Silence Dogood toured from the upper peninsula of Michigan with Sycamore Smith & The Gray Beast. Their local destination, The Middle East, is a basement venue deep in the east side of Kansas City on 59th and Spruce within an ever-expanding compound of rehab houses. Landlord John Larson (also known by his stage name Mosquito Bandito) has been buying up cheap, neglected properties in the area and reconditioning them, seemingly just for amusement. John himself is also a Michigan transplant and has become somewhat of a conduit between KCMO and UPMI, hence the Michigan musicians.

While many people showed for the opener Scammers, most left by the time Silence Dogood kicked off. This attendance drop was arguably exacerbated by eleven minutes of downtime following the first song as Mahoney changed out a broken string (this downtime has been edited from the recording). However, the reason why so few may have remained in attendance may be because the Middle East tends to be a hot bed for some fairly gritty punk shows, and Silence Dogood may not have been the best fit for such a crowd.

-AWE

EDITOR’S NOTES: Since the publication of this review, Silence Dogood asked me to remove the post. As a compromise I removed their music which I had recorded and linked, but kept my review. The music belongs to them, however, my opinion about their concert belongs to me.

Set list for Silence Dogood

1. Wonder Years

2. Paradise City (3:02)

3. Granola Kids (5:30)

4. School Is Out Forever (8:10)

5. Don’t Stop Believing (10:31)

6. Endless Bummer (14:56)

If you enjoy this blog, then subscribe, leave comments, share it with your friends, and keep reading. Thanks!

Performed July 28, 2013 at FOKL in Kansas City, Kansas

Post show at FOKL, Photo by Andrew Erdrich

Post show at FOKL, Photo by Andrew Erdrich

Mouthbreathers are a Lawrence mainstay who stand out amongst the surrounding, middling indie rockers not only sonically but also socially. The members of Mouthbreathers (Derek Solsberg, Bass; Zach Campbell, drums; Kyle Gowdy, guitar and vox; Brad Shanks, guitar) are deeply invested in various aspects of the Lawrence music scene. A number of them work at the local music bar The Replay Lounge pouring drinks, running sound, and promoting. It’s no accident The Replay has become well known for it’s local music shows, and I’m willing to bet Mouthbreathers have had more than a small role in securing that position (for more on The Replay Lounge see #7-CS Luxem/OILS). In addition all members of Mouthbreathers have vetted themselves in other Lawrence Bands such as Rooftop Vigilantes or Blood On the Walls.

Possibly the greatest effort spent on the Lawrence music culture comes from Brad Shanks who runs Replay Records, attributed to it’s parent company and the aforementioned Replay Lounge. In just over a year Replay has put out six 7″ singles (sold individually or collected in the Replay Records 2012 Box Set), and one full length compilation of Lawrence/KC bands entitled Cheap Beer. Mouthbreathers themselves have released a single Die Alone on the label making it a true circumstance of one hand washing the other. Mouthbreathers have also released singles on a couple other notable labels such as Slovenly and In The Red. Not only does the label support help the band book tours, find new fans, and play with bigger acts, but it also draws attention back towards the Lawrence/KC area which is normally thought of as a fly over zone.

If I’m remembering correctly, the last time Mouthbreathers played a show in Kansas City was over two years ago at the now defunct, but fondly remembered, Studded Bird. That’s quite a gap for a band that resides less than an hour away. Maybe they’ve been busy, or maybe their adoration in Lawrence is sufficient for them, either way it doesn’t seem to have affected their popularity in KC much. This time around they performed at FOKL, a DIY space that hosts a variety of shows including the-not-too-infrequent punk show. Case in point, the night’s lineup consisted of Dated, Thugees, the newly reformed Whyte Bytch, Sneaky Creeps,  and, of course, Mouthbreathers.

FOKL has come a long way as a venue. It’s a volunteer run space operating out of a basement in KCK that charges a modest $5 for their typical show, but they have a sizable PA setup and even book bands as prominent as No Age (that show is tomorrow, Thursday, August 29, 2013). They are also a community minded space, hosting gallery shows of local and national artists as well as annually hosting a two day psychedelic music fest known simply as Pyschfest, so it makes a lot of sense for a community oriented band such as Mouthbreathers to play at FOKL.

Unfortunately for FOKL, it seems that their most present downfall is their inability to draw large crowds consistently which may be a direct result of their location being off of Tremont and Central Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas. Admittedly it’s difficult to convince a mostly-midtown constituency to traverse the state line then pay a cover. Maybe this is a promotions thing, but it could also be the lack of punks with cars, licenses, cash, time, or interest. However, a combination of Mouthbreathers long absence and highly anticipated return, and a show lineup loaded with many of KC’s most active basement musician’s, may be credited for temporarily lifting this curse in spite of a Sunday booking. Hopefully, when Mouthbreathers return, it will be before 2015, and maybe they’ll have a full length for us to take home as well.

-AWE

Listen to Mouthbreathers’ set now with the embed below (27:03)

Listen to Mouthbreathers’ set later, with tracks already separated, with the mediafire link below

http://www.mediafire.com/folder/0ak6i8bncnmel/Mouthbreathers

Set list for Mouthbreathers

1. Nowhere Else To Go

2. Track 2 (2:37)

3. Track 3 (6:29)

4. Track 4 (9:05)

5. Jail Weapons (11:28)

6. Track 6 (15:09)

7. Anxiety (18:16)

8. Die Alone (21:07)

For more Mouthbreathers click the links below

http://mouthbreathers.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mouthbreathers/144312625634479

This concert was recorded with permission of the band Mouthbreathers. If you like what you hear, please show your support by going to their shows, buying their studio recordings, and liking their facebook page. If you enjoy reading this blog then subscribe/follow, leave a comment, and tell your friends. Muchas gracias!

Performed July 26, 2013 at Café Acoustic in Saint Joseph, Missouri

The first time Sneaky Creeps played with Cupcake we opened for some shitty singer named Cock Douglas at The Record Bar. Cock had hired a backing band of professional musicians who knew some of the members of Cupcake, so they had asked Cupcake to open for them. Sneaky Creeps had just started playing bar gigs and The Record Bar owner Steven thought we would fit well with Cupcake. Steven was right. We loved playing with Cupcake, but more importantly both bands abhorred Cock Douglas. While Cock sang through his set the rest of us were drinking on the patio waiting for the show to be over so we could maybe get some sort of payout. Wishful thinking. Thanks Cock.

Fast forward a year and a half later and Sneaky Creeps once again shared a stage with Cupcake at a little place called Café Acoustic in St. Joseph, Missouri. Cupcake was still comprised of the same four members; Jeff Jensen on drums, Kiley Bodenhamer on bass,  Shardy Darnell on lead guitar, and Marc Darnell on guitar and vox. Cupcake has a pretty standard setup, but it’s important to note that these musicians are all in the latter half of their 30’s or even working through their mid 40’s. With older, gigging musician’s it’s reasonable to expect some Classic Rock stylings, possibly some old-hat New Wave, perhaps a little 80‘s Hardcore/Metal, or maybe some Alt-Rock with a wash of Americana. Cupcake eschews these tropes and offers an attempt at being their own band. Additionally, Marc’s on stage antics make their shows that much more entertaining. For example, If you listen to the accompanying recording you’ll hear Marc as he plays a card game with the audience for REAL MONEY. In case you’re suspicious, I can vouch that Marc made good on his payouts.

Like other bars in St. Joseph Café Acoustic is a “One-O-Clock” bar, and unlike most cities in the United States, indoor smoking is still legal in St. Joseph. This means you can go to a show and leave with the real smell of a bar on you. That being said, Christina, who books the shows at the café, runs a pretty tight ship. She’s no hard ass, but she makes sure the bands are provided for. On the recording you can hear her introducing Cupcake, as well as coming on stage to encourage the audience to throw money in the tip jar or buy raffle tickets (the raffle was more successful). She also pays out bands from the money made at the bar as opposed to the money made at the door. While it may seem counter-intuitive, paying out from the bar makes a lot more sense in this kind of situation. Neither band was going to draw hundreds of people to that show, but people were still interested in finding their way to a bar on a summer Friday night and putting down a few libations. The bar saved money by not having to hire a door man and because Café Acoustic is bar that is known for having frequent live and local music. The latter is key. Cultivating a space that carries the expectation of affordable yet ever-changing live music is paramount to having a successful music venue, because that venue now has a built-in-audience of people who frequent it just to see and listen to something new. Without this audience bands must rely on the power of promotion, their name, and their brand to attract crowds, which is often not enough to sustain any sort of lifestyle. Local bands can have it hard, but I have even witnessed bigger, touring bands have problems with drawing audiences. Bands like Quasi, Boris, or even Os Mutantes, all of whom have played shows internationally to audiences of thousands.

So maybe the cards can be stacked against the musicians, but the members of Cupcake don’t really seem to care. They seem happy and excited to simply be playing shows, performing for audiences, and doing what they love. Maybe they weren’t sure if being in a band was something they would be doing at their age, but here they are, still making noise. Cheers to you Cupcake.

-AWE

Listen to Cupcake’s set now with the embed below (36:34)

Listen to Cupcake’s set later, with tracks already separated, with the mediafire link below

http://www.mediafire.com/folder/3qqrc2jpg0ilt/Cupcake

Set list for Cupcake

1. Card Game Pt.1

2. Feels So Good (:52)

3. Divorce (3:11)

4. Card Game Pt.2 (8:36)

5. Big Boys (9:17)

6. Fetch (11:37)

7. Card Game Pt. 3 (14:42)

8. Feet Fell Down (16:27)

9. Mustard Seed (22:23)

10. Short Bus (25:58)

11. Vacation (30:18)

12. Those Kids Played Hard (33:32)

This music was recorded and posted with permission of the band. If you’d like to support them then take a day trip to St. Joseph when they’re playing and hang out in front of the stage, otherwise there aren’t many other options. If you like this blog then follow it and post a comment with some feedback.

Performed July 2, 2013 at The Replay Lounge in Lawrence, Kansas

CS Luxem 7/2/13, Photo by Andrew Erdrich

CS Luxem 7/2/13, Photo by Andrew Erdrich

The Replay Lounge is notorious for sending bands home with a big payout. It’s not uncommon for performers to leave the bar a couple hundred dollars in the black. Paradoxically it seems these bands are still playing to a sparsely populated audience. Given the payout one may reasonably ask, “Where are all the people?”

Typically all the people who have bolstered your band fund are actually hanging out on the back patio, smoking cigarettes, and listening to DJ Whoever. These strange, profitable nights can be credited to one thing; the University of Kansas.

During the school year KU bolsters Lawrence’s population by 26,000 or more people. All it takes is a couple hundred Jayhawk coeds to fork over three bucks and you’re set for the month. Since it’s scientifically impossible to prevent a state school student from going out to the bars on the weekend, a band simply needs to book a show on a Friday or Saturday during the school year, show up to perform for 15 or so people, and drink their three free pitchers (that’s right THREE).

Kansas City bands have been using this formula for years, and it seems to work without fail. Still, wouldn’t it be nice to actually perform for someone besides the bartenders, the sound guy, and their friends?

That’s exactly what happened last Tuesday when CS Luxem and OILS performed their tour kickoff supported by Sneaky Creeps. Inside were roughly 40 tweens and on the back porch was movie night.  It’s safe to assume most of the two hundred-odd dollars split between the three bands didn’t come from the pockets of moviegoers. The recognition lays with the pulling power of Lawrence natives, CS Luxem and OILS who have now proven to me that you don’t need KU to have a good night at Replay Lounge.

A central figure of the two Lawrence bands is Christopher Luxem.  Not only is he the creative mind behind CS Luxem, but he’s also pulling double duty providing backing vocals for OILS, as well as collaborating with fellow Lawrencians Karma Vision.  After performing a couple songs solo as CS Luxem, Chris was joined by Andrew Frederick (backing vocals and bass) and Mark Osman (drums) from OILS.  The addition of real performers in place of loops/backing tracks I had heard in the past was refreshing, and brought more tactility to the performance. Looping, Chris’s specialty, was still present through his vocals and guitar work, but this time there was something more beefy to back it up.

OILS forewent the stage in lieu of the floor, a very “punk” thing to do, but it really made a difference in terms of creating a better connection with an audience. Fortunately their mix did not seem to suffer from the relocation. In OILS, Andrew Frederick took center stage and guitar duties, while Osman played drums, Chris had backing vocals/loops, and Taryn Miller (who performs independently as Y(our) Fri(end)) tackled bass duties.

Despite their incestuous relationship and a surplus of “Oohing and aahing,” both groups managed to maintain a distinct sound. CS Luxem’s set built on a gradual crescendo. OILS on the other hand was markedly more psychedelic as they rolled through one five minute jam into another. The best part is felt for the first time as if I was actually at a real Lawrence show, surrounded by Lawrence people. I’m hoping to see more of it in the future.

As mentioned earlier, both groups will be on tour for the next month, so cheers and best of luck to them. I’m sure they’ll do just fine, but just in case send them your love and well wishes.

-AWE

Listen to CS Luxem’s set now with the embed below (28:00)

CS Luxem 7/2/13

Listen to CS Luxem’s set later, with tracks already separated, with the mediafire link below

http://www.mediafire.com/folder/5dbd15h6ba6l9/CS_Luxem

Set list for CS Luxem

1. Tree Swing

2. Looking For (7:05)

3. Summertime Is Here (14:25)

4. With the Dogs (18:55)

5. Born Down Bobby (24:28)

For more CS Luxem visit his website through the link below

http://csluxem.info/

Listen to OILS set now with the embed below (40:28)

OILS 7/2/13

Listen to OILS set later, with tracks already separated, with the mediafire link below

http://www.mediafire.com/folder/7603fguak1u3a/OILS

Set list for OILS

1. Duck

2. Big Bear (4:24)

3. The Town (9:53)

4. Rain (16:58)

5. Fly Us To The Sun (24:21)

6. Deep End Part II (32:23)

7. My Own Eyes (38:09)

To stay up with OILS visit their facebook page through the link below

https://www.facebook.com/oilstheband

This music was recorded with the permission of the performers. If you enjoy it then show it by supporting them, and if you enjoy this blog then subscribe.

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