At the end of last weekend, most of us smelled like cheap cigarette smoke and PBR although none of us were particularly upset about it. Why? Because each year, I Heart Local Music throws a huge party to celebrate the talented Lawrence musicians fortunate enough to go to South By South West. The event is a fundraising effort to help support the musicians on the long journey to and from Austin. This year, KSDB was lucky enough to be a part of the event at the Jackpot Music Hall. Our Music, Promotions, Website, and Program Directors made the trip to LFK to table with our merch, raise awareness of KSDB, support some amazing musicians, hang out with great friends, and enjoy the show. We expected it to be a good time, but I am not sure any of us thought it was going to be the face-melting multi-genre jam session it turned out to be.
The weekend started off strong with Wendy Moira, a riot grrrl-esque group of angry kids who are relatively new on the block but entirely capable of inciting an adequate mosh pit. Their aggressive sets never disappoint, but their fantastically vulgar lyrics unfortunately make them nearly impossible to play over FCC-regulated airwaves.
Real Adults took the stage next, bringing their unique take on pop rock. Swooning and crooning with all sorts of charm, the group got the audience bobbing and swaying to their tantalizing tunes. Recently, Real Adults has exploded onto the Lawrence scene. James Thomblison, who is a member of more bands than it’s possible to mention and a good friend of KSDB, provides his musical talents on guitar.
Cincinnati natives, Leggy, were up next. Even though these girls are from out of town, they are treated like true Kansas natives. This is in part due to their traveling drummer being the local legend, Mark Osman, who is infamous for drumming in more bands than virtually anyone ever. They treated the welcoming LFK audience to several new tracks off of their brand new EP, Dang, out now.
At the end of a very long but fun-filled night, Stiff Middle Fingers brought what was left of the house down. This is a band known for their stamina, having played four shows in four different cities in the same day. Their fearless frontman who is known for his stripping antics ran merrily through the crowd during their set, mic in hand, and even went out the front door at one point. Dressed simply in athletic shorts and tennis shoes, it was clear he came prepared to be mobile. Check out footage captured from a GoPro camera attached to his microphone during one of their previous shows here.
Night two began softly and sweetly with Toughies, a soft and simple alt rock band who has also gained considerable attention among the Lawrence music community as of late. Their beautiful sounds were a nice way to ease into the second night of a very long and tiring weekend. They will be playing a Classroom Series broadcast in our McCain studios on April 1st.
After Toughies came the fem-fronted Vedettes. It was the first time I had ever seen or heard of them before. Their sound was loud and energetic, which helped wake everyone up again and get us all into full on party mode. Which was a good thing, because up next was Young Bull.
Young Bull is quite possibly the most exciting hardcore band in Kansas. Their sound is loud, aggressive, and all around in your face. Their frontman got in people’s faces and pushed them. Not pushed them lightly on the shoulder, but literally grabbed their faces and shoved them back. It was brutally fantastic. It took longer than I would have expected, but eventually their set built up into one impressive mosh sesh. One thing was for certain, they appreciated the Jackpot’s bartender, giving Darla a shout out between almost every song. Oh, and at one point they asked how many people in the crowd owned dildos. So there’s that.
Next on the bill was Ebony Tusks, an experimental hip hop group with members from Topeka, Lawrence and Kansas City. Their MC, Marty Hillard of Cowboy Indian Bear, gave one of the most surprising and bizarre performances of either night, often rapping off the mic. He strode through the crowd, sometimes completely unaccompanied by music, rapping his sermon to those within earshot. I’ve never witnessed an artist spend so much time off of the stage and off the mic. He brought his music to the people in a uniquely personal sort of way.
After Ebony Tusk’s surreal if not slightly off-putting experience, it was time to finish the whole thing with a set from LFK and now MHK favorites, Arc Flash. I’ve seen Arc Flash perform in many different environments, but there was something in the air that night. Soon after their set started, a mob of space creatures stormed the stage, knocking both space punks onto the floor. While one of the hosts of the show who was very clearly blacked out banged relentlessly on the drums, the two space punks gathered themselves again and continued the set. The space creatures danced with cheerful morale in the background, as the edges of time and space were torn and sewn back together throughout the tumultuous tunes of these fascinating punks. Remember when the scientific world lost their minds over the two black holes that collided and caused a ripple in space-time? I can imagine it was something like what happened on stage that night.
All in all, it was wonderful to be a part of one of the greatest shows of 2016 so far. My ears may still be ringing from the bashing they took, but it was well worth the hearing loss if you ask me.
By: Nick Fief