Survive the Body and Full of Hell? Time for Somos, the Conquerors and some Greaserama
When the Body and Full of Hell announced they would tour together in support of their pitch-black collaborative album, One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache, the live shows promised to be nothing if not moody. Separately, the bands encapsulate their music in existential bleakness — life as a lonely, painful tramp through the weeds until you thankfully shuffle off. Together, the project takes each band’s depressive tendencies, casts them in stone and turns the volume up until the knob catches fire and melts into oblivion.
That volume was apparent in the graffiti-strewn basement of Fokl this past Monday night, where the bands kicked off their joint tour. Among the six people onstage — the Body is a two-piece and Full of Hell a quartet — there were no fewer than eight heaving amplifiers, along with the house PA speakers hanging overhead. The sound hovered somewhere along the spectrum of extreme music. Full of Hell plays grindcore at chainsaw speed and volume, whereas the Body wades through a more esoteric pool of dark metal. Together, they cultivated even more darkness, more violence. They delivered blasts of speed and riffs, then retracted and let the noise take over until it bored down so deep into doom metal, it reached the ambient on the other side.
My god, was it loud.
Fokl, with its concrete walls and concrete floors, sent the screaming churn of sound ricocheting from corner to corner. The band pushed so much force through some puny power strip, it had to stop the show twice in the first two songs to reset the thing. A few people in the audience stood at the back of the room, as far from the hypocenter as possible, and still kept their hands pressed against their ears — surely hoping, much as the bands do, for their pain to one day end.
There was beauty in the cacophony, of course, in the way that space is beautiful: Without the void, the light would seem unimportant. The audience was struck still, either by volume or by power. In a scene where tiresome push-moshing is an inevitability, any band that can make an audience stand enraptured for 45 minutes has found the key to something. Hearts? Maybe, if only to liberate the gloom contained within.
But the next few days aren’t so bereft.
Thursday, September 1
Somos occupies a particular place in the niche-strewn world of fourth-wave emo. Perhaps more than contemporaries the Hotelier, TWIABP and even Free Throw, with whom Somos performs Thursday, the group remains firmly planted in the atmospheric pop end of the emo spectrum. Singer Michael Fiorentino never so much as hints at a scream, and while the band gets heavy at times, the music has far more in common with the moody 1980s pop of the Cure than it does with the angular, sometimes angry sounds found elsewhere on the Topshelf Records roster. Live, the band projects an urgency and a volume that’s sometimes lacking from its recordings. See Somos at the Jackpot in Lawrence, a club that has become a reliable home for emo over the past few years.
Friday, September 2
It’s a busy night, First Friday and all, but those wanting to avoid a Crossroads mob should head to Mills Record Company in Westport to watch the Conquerors as the band ushers in its new LP, Wyld Time. The album and the band deliver rollicking, classic Kansas City rock and roll, with enough twang to raise the humidity and enough crooning to give you a chance to refresh your drink. There won’t be any booze at Mills, but it should get you in the mood to swagger around the corner to Dave’s Stagecoach when you’re done. If you do decide to brave the masses downtown, the Bad Wheels and Hipshot Killer are set to drench the alleyway behind the Mercy Seat in old-fashioned punk, while Hyborian keeps things heavy.
Saturday, September 3
At some point in recent human history, the trope of the “greaser” burrowed deep into the zeitgeist to stay, remaining peripheral to any discussion of car culture, music culture and so on. We can all picture it: The dude in the white T-shirt, maybe a gas jacket if it’s nippy out, pompadour festooned with hair gunk, maybe smoking, maybe a toothpick, but something in his mouth that assists with the ensemble. Plus all the ephemera — the steel microphone, perhaps in flames; the pair of dice, perhaps in flames; the hot rod, perhaps painted with flames .Fat tires. Chrome engine. Maybe a kooky rat driving the rig, maybe more fire.
But how does this world of car-based kitsch work now, in the age of Tesla, when polar bears and residents of any low-lying coastal town are scratching their heads and wondering which terrible global-warming-induced fate will ensnare them?
Doesn’t matter, at least in KC, at least for a weekend.
The car-loving masses here simply command greaserism to work, and so it does — never more than during the annual Greaserama car show and punk-rock hoedown, the 16th edition of which this weekend brings dozens of classic cars, lowriders, motorcycles and other internally combusted minutia to the Platte County Fairgrounds. The party kicks off Friday at Lucky Boys, but the festival unfurls its musical lineup on Saturday, and it’s a good one: Red Kate, the Bad Ideas, Drop a Grand and other local heavies appear, and Greaserama is also the second of three area shows for New Zealand rock outfit Labretta Suede and the Motel 6.
Tuesday, September 6
At some point, Rocky Votolato was unceremoniously lumped in with a collection of acts with whom he never exactly fit — Lucero, William Elliott Whitmore and all those other ex-punks who began playing some semblance of country music in the late 1990s and early 2000s but never let their taste for house shows and DIY ethics fade. At least musically, Votolato has always floated above that fray, even when touring with those bands, by now his friends and sworn brothers; his music remains just too pretty for all of that. This has never been true than on Makers, his landmark 2006 album, which the man performs in its entirety at the Riot Room Tuesday as part of his tour celebrating the disc’s 10th anniversary.