Radkey’s ‘Uncanny Xmas’ was a homecoming weekend to remember at recordBar

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Radkey at recordBar. // Photo by Chris Ortiz

Radkey rocked the recordBar crowd for two consecutive evenings over the weekend, blending their myriad of influences over just under twenty songs as they showcased their mastery of tempo shifts, melodic hooks, and face-melting instrumentalization to a hometown crowd that has long appreciated the trio’s accessibility. 

The hard riffs into the chorus of a classic like “Evil Doer” was an apt way to open the show. The Scott Pilgrim combo-breaker guitar solo in the last third dogpiled everyone into the moment if they weren’t already there.

“Le Song” maintained the energy, affirming just how much shit rocked right that very second. And then that solo hit. 

With the crowd sufficiently riled up at this point, the fellas popped off their classic,  “Love Spills,” delivering one of their more iconic opening riffs and the classic crooning of lead singer Dee Radke before erupting into a fistful of energy onstage.

The first of their more recent work, “Judy”—the first track from their 2020 album, Green Room—came up fifth on the setlist. 

An infectiously neo-retro banger, “Judy” shows how far Radkey has come as songwriters while also serving as a reminder that they have been plugging away this whole time. Success is no accident. Nor are these licks. 

“St. Elwood” from 2019’s No Strange Cats, leaned into the melodic tilt of “Judy” with a catchy hook—”I’m bored, I’m bored, I’m bored outta my mind”—which has only become more pertinent in the years following its release. 

The guys from St. Joseph dipped back into their boyhood with “Rock & Roll Homeschool,” wearing their Ramones influence on their sleeve before transitioning into another of their biggest hits, “Dark Black Makeup.”

The deliberate pacing of the setlist never faltered in its effectiveness. The Green Room tracks started coming in hot from here with “Underground” and “Seize,” followed by more classic jams like “Not Smart,” “P.A.W.”, “Hunger Pain,” and “Red Letter.”

The thunderous stadium banger, “Romance Dawn” took the show to its energetic apex, followed by the shifting melody of “Junes.”

“Krillin gets scared like every other human would but he never gave up,” Dee sings in the latter—a reference that was perfectly at home at a show that was marketed off classic X-Men imagery, but also reflective of the group’s Midwest humility over the course of a decade-plus of putting in the work it takes to see the success they have now begun to taste on a regular basis.

“Circles” closed the show out officially, but the inevitable encore was the highlight that kept the crowd itching for more party long after the stage was cleared: “Teen Titans.”

I caught the band over sips of their Coors Heavy tallboys after the show, asking them a question they have sure heard thousands of times by now: what was it like touring with Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters?

The group had been hand-picked by Grohl to open for the legendary rock band earlier this year, appearing in Grohl’s documentary What Drives Us and later recording a cover of “I’ll Stick Around” for their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction.

Foo Fighters bassist Nate Mendel has been on the record saying that traveling with Radkey triggered “a little nostalgia in me for some of the early days of the Foo Fighters.”

Radkey bassist Isaiah Radke laid out just how quickly everything seemed to happen for them since embarking on that tour, which was followed by stops at Lollapalooza and nearly constant touring through the fall. 

“We want to be a band like the Foo Fighters. We wanted to play the big stage with these boys and then, when we got there, they were all about the big stage. It’s like, ‘you’re about to live your dream dude, let’s do this’,” Isaiah Radke said. 

Now living their dreams, Radkey looks to be an unstoppable force in a world that could absolutely use more delicious rock noise. And while they may want to be like the Foo Fighters, the barebones appeal of Radkey and their continued longevity is that they are so very much themselves—and always have been. 

For the second night of the weekend’s show run, Lawrence heavy rockers Godzillionaire and Kansas City punks Drop A Grand opened for Radkey and our photographer Chris Ortiz (Insta: @fastboyent) was there to document it all.



Drop A Grand

Categories: Music