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Show recap: With Knives/The Beta Capsule/The Life and Times at recordBar, 6.20.12

(Pictured above: The Life and Times)

Last Wednesday at recordBar, a reunion of Kansas City musicians took place. With Knives (Josh Newton of Shiner/Season To Risk, Joe Trohman of Fall Out Boy), The Beta Capsule (Paul Malinowski of Shiner, with former members of The Esoteric and Traindodge), and The Life and Times (former members of Shiner, The Stella Link, Traindodge) took the stage, to the delight of old school scenesters and new fans alike.

Check out some great shots provided by Todd Zimmer (please do not use without permission):

The Beta Capsule


With Knives


The Life and Times



Show review: Deal's Gone Bad and The New Riddim at Davey's, 6.22.12

(Pictured above: The New Riddim)

Ska made a welcome comeback at Davey’s Friday night.

From the looks of the almost-packed house, you’d have thought it never went away. Unfortunately, I missed openers The Uncouth, but arrived just as Kansas City ska group The New Riddim took the stage. The band was promoting the release of its debut CD, Kidnapped, and the mood was celebratory. The band tore through its rocksteady set with a well-rehearsed yet loose vibe. The New Riddim doesn’t play the ska-punk of the ’90s (Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish), but rather an older, more soulful, less frantic style that owes as much to Jamaica as it does the Motown era of the late ’60s. Caribbean rhythms meet multipart harmonies in The New Riddim’s crossover tribute to this oft-misunderstood genre. Fans of The Slackers and Hepcat would enjoy a set by this homegrown outfit.

The band attacked the crowd with selections from its new CD and was careful to pepper in slower, more reggae-sounding numbers with upbeat tracks. Though boasting multiple vocalists—the horn players give lead singer/organist Daniel Loftus a break now and then—the band broke up the set with the occasional instrumental jam.

A couple selections seemed to get overly complicated, but you could tell the act enjoys pushing the limits of a style that seems deceptively simple. And those in the crowd, many of whom were there to support their friends onstage, didn’t seem to mind. They danced (a few even skanked!) to the bitter end and cried for more, but The New Riddim knows to quit while it’s ahead. I was impressed that the band didn’t go for one more; the temptation to do so must have been intense. Well done, fellas! They set up the house perfectly for headliners Deal’s Gone Bad.

This Chicago act’s annual shows at Davey’s are always a dance party, and this was no exception. I was impressed that most in the crowd made their way back in as soon as the band hit the stage. Similar to The New Riddim, Deal’s Gone Bad takes its cues from classic Jamaican ska via Motown, but the group takes the “stax of wax” idea to a whole new level. Rather than vamping on instrumental ska jams, Deal’s Gone Bad sticks to a 7-inch ethos. Its songs are road tested and efficient. You get a helluva bang from each tune, and usually in about three minutes. We barely had time to catch our breath as the band blasted through its set.

Deal’s Gone Bad’s last full length was 2007’s The Ramblers, but it hasn’t tired of playing fan favorites from that LP. The crowd sang along, and sometimes failed miserably, which resulted in a hilarious scolding from lead vocalist Todd Hembrook. The highlight of the set was the rocksteady take on Otis Redding’s “These Arms of Mine” from last year’s vinyl single. The group’s homage plays genuine rather than clever, and ripped the hearts out of the crowd, which hung on Hembrook’s every shredded word.

The band finished its set, then returned for a short three-song encore and said good night to the sweaty, dance-weary revelers. The audience probably could have gone on, but like The New Riddim, Deal’s Gone Bad is a group of professionals. Always leave ’em wanting more.

--Steven M. Garcia

Steven is guitarist and vocalist for Kansas City power pop trio Deco Auto. He also makes a deliciously angry salsa.


Show review: Victor & Penny at Nica's 320, 6.16.12

One of the most underappreciated items on the list of why Kansas City music is so outstanding is its diversity of genres. Kansas City duo Victor & Penny is among those unique bands with their antique pop sound, which includes ukulele, guitar, and old-timey microphones.

Although Victor & Penny are on a lengthy tour all over the country, we were lucky to have them back in Kansas City at Nica's 320 after a drive-in from a Chicago show. The duo of Jeff Freling and Erin McGrane shared their songs to a full audience, including the 101-year-old “Some Of These Days."

Although Victor & Penny are regular staples in this reviewer's music collection, there’s nothing like a live show with these guys. After the lovely Danielle Ate The Sandwich made her hilarious mark on the stage, Victor & Penny appeared with the talented Rick Willoughby on bass to melt the ice cubes in the drinks of all audience members. McGrane's quick wit and amazing antique pop fashion rounded out the duo’s humble command of the stage. And as a special treat for the Nica’s crowd, local musician Barclay Martin stood in on the trumpet sound – sans trumpet – and wowed us for a song.

Victor & Penny are on tour, currently heading through Arizona and will hit the rest of the east coast before returning to Kansas City. The duo's next performance in KC is at Harry’s Country Club on Saturday, July 28 with Phantoms of the Opry

Here's a video they made called "Way Back Home":

--Hillary Watts

Hillary wears a pocket protector during the day as a computer geek and a corset at night as Queen Bee of the freak pop band The Hillary Watts Riot.



2012 US Air Guitar Championships

A unique cast of characters will roll into the streets of Westport tonight. Performers yielding stage names like Magic Cyclops, Mean Melin and Thunderball will aim their talents at the 2012 US Air Guitar Championships being held at the Beaumont Club.

One winner from this competition will win a trip to Denver on July 21 to compete in the National Finals. The winner of the National Finals is crowned The 2012 US Champion and will win a trip to Finland in August to compete in the Air Guitar World Championships, where he or she will represent the United States of America against national champions from 25 other countries all around the world.

The rules are simple. Each performance is played to 1 minute of a song. During the first of two rounds all parties participating will choose a song of their liking. Survivors of that round reconvene in a second round in which the song is unknown to them. The participant with the best overall score after two rounds is the champion of the event.

Scores for the event are placed on a scale between 4.0 and 6.0. A panel of judges determine scores based on three key points; technical ability, stage presence, and airness.

The first of these three criteria, technical ability, is based on the manner in which a performer’s gestures match the music. The more concise a person is with their riffs and where they place their fingers on beat, the higher a score is likely to be.

Stage presence is the second factor to be scored. This is determined by the participants ability to present a realistic picture. The more believable a performance is the higher the likelihood of a quality score.

Lastly, the participant is judged on airness. This is the total package. Airness is the moment when the imitation of playing guitar stops and the art of being an air guitarist begins. When a person has the ability to get a room of a hundred people on their feet and into the event without actually playing a single note, they’ve achieved airness.

For example, check out Mean Melin and Thunderball achieving airness as they rock out in the face of the Westboro Baptist Church protesting a Van Halen concert outside of the Sprint Center in Kansas City.


For a closer look at those two and a collection of others, be sure to make your way to the Beaumont Club. Doors open tonight at 9. Rockstar high kicks start at 10. You must be 18 years old to attend this event.

--Josh Hammond


Show of the day: Blackbird Revue/Kentucky Knife Fight/The Latenight Callers at Nica's 320

(pictured above: The Blackbird Revue)

Tonight kicks off another busy, hot summer weekend in Kansas City. We recommend you begin it in the back room at Nica's 320 with The Blackbird Revue, Kentucky Knife Fight (St. Louis) and The Latenight Callers.
Though all three bands have a far different approach to the music, the passion of each musician to his/her craft will be seen in these performances. The Blackbird Revue, made up of husband/wife team Jacob and Danielle Prestidge, kicks off the show at 8 pm with some of the best male/female vocal harmonies in Kansas City. Pieces of country and folk can be picked out of their style of indie rock. They'll be sure to bring a personal touch to the evening.
The show will heat up with the stylings of Kentucky Knife Fight at 9 pm. This 5-piece St. Louis band has a raw, animalistic approach to its music with an old punk and a sexy blues combination. Songs are soaked in alcohol and sex and then ripped apart by razor-sharp guitar licks. It's sure to rev up the crowd for the sultry noir sounds of The Latenight Callers, who will close out the show.
A performance by The Latenight Callers (see our review of their latest EP here) transports the observer into a 1920s speakeasy, where the smoke billows and the bourbon pours nonstop. Where dapper gentlemen tip their fedoras and open doors. Where short-skirted women daintily hang cigarettes from delicate fingers and redefine gender roles with their newly-found fashion sensibilities. Where a sexual revolution begins to take shape, propelled by a hypnotizing baritone, a subtle backbeat, and seductive vocals. Where the musical performance leaves the listener craving more than just a coy glance with a stranger.

--Michelle Bacon


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