Playin’ With the Bands

Thursday night, August 3, for a paltry five bucks, you have a chance to go out and sample what has to be one of the best local music scenes in the country. For the past year and a half, it’s been my job to report on this scene, and I’ve never felt short on cool shit to write about.

We hope the Pitch Music Showcase shines a high beam on all of that. As in the past few years, a panel of more than 30 local promoters, club owners, critics and all-around experts nominated a roster of bands for Pitch Music Awards, and area music fans vote to determine who wins in each category. The showcase lets some of the nominees show their stuff one last time before the votes are counted. Mostly, though, it’s an excuse to throw a party with a bunch of bands.

Let’s hope it doesn’t rain. See, this year, part of the party will be outside … we think. As of this writing, the bands and DJs who were supposed to play at the Hurricane have been moved because the Hurricane can’t make up its mind about whether it’s open. For now, we’re planning for the bands to rock the Westport Beach Club and the DJs to throw down in the parking lot across from the Beaumont. Then again, by press time, another change could occur and the Hurricane’s doors may magically whoosh open, allowing us to return to Plan A.

Whatever happens, do not be deterred. In fact, start early. The night kicks off at 8:30, and you don’t want to miss the thrilling electronic pop of Namelessnumberheadman (Westport Beach Club), the delicious beats of SoundsGood‘s Miles Bonny (outside the Beaumont parking lot), the searing punk of the Shotgun Idols (the Beaumont), the ragged jam-soul of the Brothers Green (McCoy’s), or the freakish tech-noise of Onemilliontinytinyjesuses (the Dark Horse). And that’s just the first hour. Around 10:30, I’m going to have to consider suicide as an alternative to deciding among sexy jazz goddess Megan Birdsall (McCoy’s), one-man thrash cyclone This Is My Condition (Beaumont), blade-slinging storytellers American Catastrophe (Beach Club), laugh-out-loud hip-hoppas Bacon Shoe (Dark Horse) and mad-skilled DJs Sku (Karma) and Ataxic (the Beaumont, outside). Ditto for just about every hour of the evening.

But I don’t want you to worry about that. If you don’t like what you hear in one venue, don’t waste any time — slam your drink and head somewhere else. And if you do like what you hear, then don’t succumb to music writer’s neurosis and begin worrying about what you might be missing. Stay and enjoy it.

That’s my advice for the showcase.

I’d now like to take a moment to sum up the past year in Kansas City music, and I think I can do it in two words: hell, yes.

Almost all the bands, DJs and MCs who were hot a year ago are still on fire, and there’s a fine crop of newcomers — not only bringing fresh sounds to the scene but also showing that the local music gene pool is teeming like a four-day-old pork chop that slipped behind the stove. (I mean that in a good way.)

In fact, many of this year’s Pitch Music Awards nominees, new and old alike, couldn’t play the showcase because they were on tour. Fortunately, enough are in town that Thursday night’s showcase and the awards ceremony next Friday, August 11, at the Uptown are both going to kick ass.

New local labels have turned up, and established imprints have grown stronger. Local studios have churned out pro-quality albums. Venuewise, though strongholds such as Kabal and the Hurricane shut down or changed formats, other favorites remain. Most notably, the Record Bar steams ahead as the single best addition to the live music scene in the past year.

Thursday at the showcase, just have a good time. Then grab a ballot and vote for the artists who impressed you most — in fact, do ’em one better and purchase their CDs, too. Sign on as their MySpace friend, buy them shots, tell them you’ll come to their next show. And when their next show comes, be there.

And please don’t stop there. The artists on the ballot and in the showcase are all great, but they’re still just a sample of what the area has to offer musically. Somewhere out there — off the radio dial and playing for a room of 10 people, half of whom are too drunk to pay attention — is your new favorite band, just waiting to rock your ass. — Jason Harper

Contributing writers: April Fleming, Jason Harper, Aaron Ladage, Andrew Miller, Andy Vihstadt, Mike Warren

Categories: Music