Posts Tagged ‘Music’

Performed January 3, 2016 at Front/Space in Kansas City, Missouri

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Today Adam Werven, otherwise known as Larry Wish, celebrates his 27th birthday. I like to imagine him in his Minneapolis apartment, bundled up in a rainbow afghan, eagerly awaiting a special birthday hotdish. In reality he’s writing grants and preparing for a standup comedy show, but three days prior he performed his last show of a two and a half week tour at Kansas City’s cozy (small) storefront arts venue, Front/Space. This gig marked Larry Wish‘s first appearance in Kansas City. He was supported by tourmate and friend Ray Jackson, or The Grow Fangs.

Both Werven and Jackson performed solo to a full house (that translates to about 35 or 40 bodies given the size of the space). The Grow Fangs followed the jangle-pop dance hall of supporting, local openers Toad Tartare with about 25 short, cheeky, high-energy punk rock tunes. He played on a guitar shaped like a shark through a borrowed amplifier and delivered screaming vocals that were equally impressive and amusing.

Larry Wish also had a minimal setup which strung an auxiliary cable from the PA to his boombox which contained the night’s set burned onto a CD. Wish was very animated. He mounted cinder blocks, wore them as shoes and meandered futilely about the performance area. He played air guitar, air drums, air saxophone, air everything while gesticulating wildly.

Wish‘s music utilizes pop, prog and compositional influences, features programmed or live drums and plenty of direct input and digital overdubbing. He sings, or rather, belts his vocals within a rich baritone register. The outcomes are both epic and whimsical, sincere yet playful. With proclamations like, “I just forget myself sometimes,” it’s hard to resist the notion that Werven is showing vulnerability.

For every few tracks of original material performed there was a karaoke cover of another. Typically these were slowed down versions of nineties grunge hits such as Nirvana‘s “In Bloom” or Pearl Jams‘ “Even Flow,” a combination of Werven’s 90’s adolescence and more recent love of Vaporwave. One such selection, however, was a cover of Donna Summer’s disco classic I Feel Love.” This latter song, as well as several others from the set, is taken from Wish‘s newest recording Born Outside My Window, released last October by Orange Milk Records.

Also represented by Orange Milk Records is Kansas City resident Scammers, or Phil Diamond. Diamond was billed to play with Larry Wish and The Grow Fangs, but cancelled late due to a sudden dental emergency. It would have been the first time the labelmates had met in person.

While his newest recording is a worthy listen, Werven is prolific. His bandcamp page holds over 50 recordings from over half a dozen projects dating back to 2007. While the lion’s share of these offerings fall under the Larry Wish moniker, many others are attributed to OcturbomangoSleeves and Used Condo (which has a cassette coming out by the end of the week on the Suite 309 label).

The recordings also vary greatly in approach. One recording titled TACE BEEL: TACE THE BEEL consists of empty, yet titled, tracks.”I did half the work, now the listener needs to do the other half and come up with the music.” said Werven in interview, comically suggesting that titling is half the job in song writing.

Some recordings are wholly digital creations while others are more traditional studio recordings. Throughout these works Werven’s primary concerned rests with creating something that feels right or appropriate for the recording rather than emulate a style or enter a particular school of thought.

Werven and Jackson’s tour carried them as far as Gainesville, Florida, and spanned two major holidays; Christmas and New Year’s. When asked why they decided to tour through the holiday season, when many people are indisposed spending time with family and friends, Werven stated it was more convenient because he had winter break from school. Unfortunately this also meant that neither Jackson or Werven’s bands could tour with them. Undaunted, the pair took the opportunity to visit friends and celebrated their holidays on the road.

Their final payout at the Front/Space gig was decent, more than enough to cover their six-plus-hour drive back to Minneapolis the next day. When I asked Werven if their income had been good during the entirety of the tour, he said it had been, but that he also wasn’t too concerned. Before they embarked he had taken out a small student loan to cover expenses, a technique he’s used in the past to make recordings and put out physical releases. I feel that anecdote epitomizes the attitude of many do it yourself musicians today, that is, cheerful and reckless.

Happy Birthday Adam. Cheers to you and recklessness.



Listen to Larry Wish’s set now with the embed below

Or listen to Larry Wish‘s set later, with tracks titled and separated, by clicking the mediafire link below


Setlist for Larry Wish

1. Yeah, Soon the Birds Will Wake Me Up Somewhere in the Vaseline [Used Condo]; intro

2. On One More Condition (:30)

3. Even Flow [Pearl Jam]; interlude (5:05)

4. Ubduction Redundant (5:27)

5. In Bloom [Nirvana]; interlude (10:49)

6. Unsound/Touched (11:20)

7. I Feel Love [Summer, Moroder, Bellotte] (14:08)

8. Man In the Box [Alice In Chains]; interlude (17:08)

9. Your Face [Maureen McElheron] (17:46)

10. Up-to-Me Books (20:08)

11. Been Caught Stealing [Jane’s Addiction]; outro


Click the link below to hear more music by Larry Wish


Click the link below to hear more music from Orange Milk


Click the link below to listen to The Grow Fangs


Click the link below for more events from Front/Space

Thanks to Adam Werven, Ray Jackson, Madeline Gallucci, Kendall Harbin, and Ian Teeple for making this show possible. Thanks to everyone that came and bought merchandise and paid door cover, you keep the dream alive. If you weren’t able to make it you can show your support by visiting Larry’s Bandcamp and buying something for goodness sakes. If you like this blog then kindly share it, subscribe to it, leave some comments, and keep reading. You can also like and follow the facebook page,, for more bonus material. Cheers!

Performed January 8, 2014 at Art Closet Studios, Kansas City, Missouri

All Blood Ringmaster Jonathan Brokaw; Photo By Brock Hildebrandt

All Blood Ringmaster Jonathan Brokaw; Photo By Brock Hildebrandt

Art Closet Studios is the awkward niche carved out of the backside of Open Fire Pizza. It earns points as a centrally located all ages venue (features that are ever in demand), but for the most part the space is bare bones. There’s a basic-but-adequate PA system, the door man was hand-picked from the crowd, and there’s a total absence of any sort of climate control. Around the room space is occupied by in-process artist works encircling a concrete pad. The performance area is marked by a helter skelter backdrop of mixed media that leaves one questioning whether it is in fact a finished stage setting or a neglected project made into an ersatz substitute.

Alongside such trappings typical of a house venue comes the baggage of a more legal public event space; it’s an alcohol and drug free zone, door money is split a dozen ways, and they close down early. In practice, the venue stayed open as long as necessary and the localized prohibition was largely a facade. Many attendees fearlessly or carelessly drank openly. Maybe the restaurant couldn’t divert one of their employees to chaperone for the evening? Furthermore, despite the math-magical purgatory that is payout, touring band Idaho Green did alright.

All Blood played in the middle of a packed billing that showcased two other local bands alongside two touring acts. Initially a solo project created and nurtured by KC native Jonathan Brokaw (aka JB), All Blood has expanded to four members. These extra hands and voices belong to familiar faces. Zach Campbell on drums also plays for Mouthbreathers, Justin Baird on keys and guitar has spent time in Whyte Bitch as well as The Conquerors, and Zach Turner on bass has played in Folkicide and worked solo as Puffs Or Plumes.

While on his own JB has written, produced, and released numerous recordings including last year’s highly favorable Someone Else’s Ocean, but with the new troops the All Blood live experience has noticeably expanded. Shows are bigger and louder, the songs are catchier, and JB seems more coherent and sober. During instances where other members would spearhead vocal duties, such as Zach Campbell taking the lead on Hippie Drugs, All Blood seemed less like JB’s brainchild and more like a collective effort. This is a good thing and the fact that the entire band continues to perform together indicates they are self aware of this improvement.

As long as bands like All Blood continue to perform at Art Closet minors and underagers will keep showing up,  but before you decide to attend a show keep in mind the music and arcade far outclass the art and the pizza.


Listen to All Blood’s set now with the embed below (25:39)

Listen to All Bloods set later, tracks currently uncut, with the mediafire download below

Set List for All Blood

1. Now I Am The Devil

2. Hippie Drugs (3:37)

3. Object Destroyer (6:30)

4. Action/Reaction (9:04)

5. Feral castle (11:25)

6. She’s In The Air (12:48)

7. Sweet Ass Dank (16:50)

8. Triumph Of Your Cool (19:18)

9. Queen Twerp (22:24)

10. Casino (25:07)

For more All Blood 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, share, like, and tell your mom, sister, brother, dad, and friends. Thank you.

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.


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*

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

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.


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

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

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.


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

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

Visit photographer Tim Amundson’s blog at

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 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.


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

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

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.


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 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.


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

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

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

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

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.

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 14, 2013 at Micheal’s Loft, Kansas City, MO

Photo By Mary O'Brien

Photo By Mary O’Brien

Photo By Brock Hildebrandt

Photo By Brock Hildebrandt

Outside World  are a lo-fi, DIY trio from Chicago. The band features Ben Scott (Guitar and Vocals), Hazel Rigby (Bass and Vocals), and Evan Jenkins (Drums). Their music combines elements of psych, rock, noise, pop and sheer loudness. Their couple of self-released tape recordings (Outside World and Seaside Nowhere, both 2012) don’t seem to quite capture the relentless groove in Major they bring to their live show, but at least you can hear the vocals. Both times I’ve seen Outside World their PA setups didn’t stand a chance once they blew up the space with their stage volume. Personally I’d take the rawness of their live show to their (by comparison) somewhat restrained recorded offerings. For this particular occasion they performed in my friend Micheal’s loft apartment in the Crossroads district of KCMO. Kansas City’s own Wanin’ Peppa’ and Dated opened. Outside World started around quarter to 11 and played a rock solid half hour of music to about 40 people. I felt as though a good number of the songs seemed familiar from their last visit, but upon cross-checking their set list with their available recordings most of them seem new and off the market. This leads me to believe a new recording is imminent. As a side note I noticed their live set didn’t seem to contain anything like their slower, quiter tracks (such as Seems So True or You May Think) which may be a direct attempt to keep the crowd energy up. Hopefully KC makes them feel welcome enough to come back and play another. I know I’d like to see them again.


Listen now with the below embed (32:51)

Listen later with tracks already separated with the mediafire download below

Track List

1. “Fills”

2. All Day – at 3:55

3. Outside World – at 7:51

4. “Center” – at 13:18

5. “Flying” – at 16:44

6. “Inside” – at 19:36

7. “Due” – at 24:06

8. “Stain” – at 27:00

For more check out these links below:

Outside World’s Facebook

Outside World’s Bandcamp
These recordings were recorded and posted with permission from the band members of Outside World, because they’re clearly cool dudes.