In the bright light of post-rain sunshine, Kansas City sparkles like it was just unwrapped. We drove up to the Beaumont Club and found a long line of hip folk waiting good-naturedly to get in to the Sleeper Agent set there. Once sorted, we scored a lucky parking spot and went to check out the Casket Lottery, a band whose music my friend Brad introduced me to a decade ago. The three songs he sent me were so killer in their drumming and organization that they were a major influence on Bound Stems when we first started. I had no idea they were from KC. They played to a packed Riot Room (so far, one of my favorite clubs in the Midwest), mixing old and new songs and pulling major fast ones with the time signature. Loved it loved it. We got a chance to talk with Nathan, the drummer from the Casket Lottery (also due to go on with Coalesce later in the evening), to give him his propers.
From there we found Marty from tourmates Cowboy Indian Bear straight off. That guy is a one-man welcome wagon, friend to every soul in KC, and he took us on a quick tour of the whole scene. Gusto's is a foxy spot, with wide-open windows and a great sound system, and we got there just as DJ Mahf was doing something stunning to an Adele song I'm otherwise sick to death of. Man's got skills. Sleeper Agent was rocking the Beaumont, and now we have to go find their record, because the little bit we saw of their set was totally invigorating. We split off to get some good food at the Beer Kitchen, then started the load-in at McCoy's, where Beau Jennings & the Tigers were playing before us. I must admit that, besides enjoying the song with the lyrics about "four drink tickets," I was mainly aware of how much louder we were going to be than them. But one hectic set-up later, we were strapped in for the set and looking out at a surprising crowded house. We had a blast throughout, and tried a couple of new songs out for the first time. It's tricky playing a restaurant bar, especially one with TVs around, but somehow the space transformed itself into a club for the duration of our set, and we made the most.
So many great bands playing! Just on our night, Saturday, some highlights were La Guerre (Katlyn from Cowboy Indian Bear's other project), El Ten Eleven, the Casket Lottery, the Appleseed Cast, Coalesce, Neon Indian, Mr. Gnome, Broncho, and Acid Mother's Temple. Also fun., the surprise breakout band of the moment, but I can't say I've actually heard their single, and I definitely wasn't going to take a spot in their crowd away from someone who wanted to be there. Thursday and Friday the hot shit in my opinion included Capybara, Soft Reeds (recently recommended), Life and Times, Mission of Burma (!), Owen, White Denim, Cowboy Indian Bear, Mates of State, Murder by Death, Season to Risk, and Schwervon... Also a band called Cher UK—though why would you call your band that? The lineup was unreal, and Kansas City really felt lit up with great music in every direction.
After our set we caught up with Nan and Matt from Schwervon!, new friends recently arrived to KC from NYC. They generously offered their new place for us to crash, which is how we discovered the charms of nearby Shawnee. Both Nan and Matt are total sweethearts, and the beer and conversation went late into the night. Morning was home-made eggs, pancakes and hashbrowns in a kitchen that seemed almost like a theatrical interpretation of '70s American Homestyle Interior...which I mean in the best way. I recognized several details—illustrated wallpaper, blond wood cabinets with beaten brass handles, colorful shag carpet—from the house I grew up in. KC's lucky to have 'em, and we look forward to hosting them when they play El Lenador May 9 with Warm Jets USA and Jumpstarts. Stag party on the way from Kansas City!
These photos by Michael Forester and more from the fest can be found here.