The scenery in downtown Kansas City is perfect for a late-summer punk show. Rundown buildings, questionable Mexican restaurants, and shady dive bars craft a rustic Midwestern chic that made Rozwell Kid’s first performance in KCMO memorable. Three up and coming indie bands from the east coast decided to jaunt through America’s heartland together on their way to Denver’s Riot Fest this weekend and graced Davey’s Uptown Bar with their presence on Wednesday evening.
After a few local bands loosened the crowd up, Rozwell Kid took the stage. I had the opportunity to see this band last November in Lawrence without knowing too much about them, but I fell in love. They might as well be Weezer, Jr. (in a Pinkerton/Blue Album sort of way), but their attitude on stage makes their shows some of the most entertaining in the scene at the moment. Singer Jordan Hudkins is like the Napoleon Dynamite of power-pop. He is completely unremarkable and average, which is reflected in the way his hair hides his eyes while and stoops over while strumming his Fender guitar.
While their music is overdrive-saturated power-pop, they add a bit of cheese to their shows with over-the-top soloing and some entertaining guitar stunts. They may sing songs about eating hummus or being depressed before their birthday, but it is executed so perfectly with authenticity and an obvious love for their craft.
“We’ve had a big year,” Hudkins said before their set. Big year is an understatement for a band who has toured the country almost nonstop during the last 12 months. Soon, Rozwell Kid will be opening for The Get Up Kids. By this time next year, Rozwell Kid may be a household name. It’s a no-brainer why so many bands have recruited RK to open their tours these last twelve months, because often times they end up being the most interesting band with the tightest set.
Beach Slang turned out to be the lowest point of the evening after Rozwell Kid left the stage. Being the weakest group on a tour with two other excellent bands is never easy, and having an alcoholic in your band does not make it any better. Their fuzzy punk rock and overall attitude would come across as charming if James Snyder wouldn’t have spent the majority of their 40 minutes of allotted time telling lame jokes, and saying he was too drunk to tune his own guitar. The sound technician cut them off before they performed their fifth song. He did everyone at Davey’s Uptown Club a favor.
Even with Rozwell Kid’s fun performance, it’s hard to deny The Hotelier was the highlight of the evening. Hailing from central Massachusetts, the emo band gained notoriety after releasing the near-perfect Home, Like No Place Is There in February of 2013. Their music calls back alternative sounds from the mid-90s while also utilizing their own talent and signature blend of rough punk, emo, and tinges of emotive hardcore.
The album tells stories of domestic abuse, suicide, and gender dysphoria – most importantly, the band is able to reflect the imagery of their music in a live setting. Christian Holden’s nasally tenor has become a battle cry for fans, and the way he talks to the audience and even addresses his bandmates shows that he’s a compassionate person. The set was made up of favorites from Home Like No Place Is There along with a few songs from their first release, and I felt right at home as the room came alive while everyone belted every lyric as loud as they could.
I feel most at home in these dingy bars complete with checkerboard floors, dirty restrooms, and the smell of sweat and stale beer all overwhelming my senses. It rejuvenates my spirits when I get to see bands I enjoy so much grow. There were around 80 people at this show, and while that may pale in comparison to the people who will pour into the Sprint Center to watch Taylor Swift in a few months time, it’s a glimpse of what’s to come for Kansas City’s up-and-coming indie music scene.