If you were anything like the KSDB Staff when you were in high school, you had high hopes of playing rock music and hanging out with your friends. Wichita’s Kill Vargas is doing just that. The punk rock trio from the 316 may be young, but they are making noise with their raucous breed of brash punk rock that calls back sounds of Nirvana, Foo Fighters, and even more. On October 3rd, they visited the Little Apple for another installment of the Classroom Series. Afterwards, they played a killer show at Aggie Central Station.
It’s not every day your average family gets to take a tour across Europe and the U.S. playing music together, but it is for the brothers Radke. St. Joseph, Missouri natives Solomon, Isaiah, and Dee Radke formed a band before any of them were even old enough to vote. With the release of two promising EPs, Radkey had gained enormous amounts of positive attention from critics and fellow musicians alike, playing with big name bands like Drenge, Titus Andronicus and The Offspring as well as playing major festivals like Afropunk, Coachella, and South by Southwest. After all of this hype, the band was still very young and without a proper debut album. As a trio of brothers with the music world’s anticipation on their backs, they discovered a way to not only avoid disappointment, but exceed expectations.
Dark Black Makeup very well could be one of the most impressive debut records of this year. Bringing influences from the 1980s punk scene, lead vocalist Dee Radke has often been compared to a young Glenn Danzig of the Misfits. Despite the uncanny similarities between the sonic qualities of these two vocalists, Radkey is not a Misfits reincarnation, but rather an entirely new and growing entity of their own. Radkey is both the future and the past, in a sonically paradoxical sort of way. Their sound is not quite garage, not quite punk, but a delightful mix of both. Rock and roll needed these brothers to bring back what seems to have taken a backseat to being hip and in-the-now: a fearless approach to the simple act of rocking. Energy, urgency, and carefree guitar riffs scream out alongside hammering bass and pummeling drums. Lyrically, Radkey explores ideas of love and the feelings of loss and despair while still incorporating plenty of “na na nas” and “oohs” and “ahs” that tend to lighten the mood of the album. However, Dark Black Makeup takes a more somber turn on “Hunger Pain.” There is a certain emotional elevation that stirs the listener to bear some of the heartbreak in Dee’s voice as he sings, “…could it be just you and I? No? I’ll just feed until I die.” After “Hunger Pain,” Radkey explores insecurities in an honest way that is almost a little funny. Perhaps funny isn’t the best word you might use to describe it, but “Song of Solomon” somehow has a way of making the listener crack a smile, if not because of its upbeat sound, but because it’s a relatable story of self awareness.
Maybe what makes this record so great is the shared experience between its young and talented musicians, having literally grown up together. Maybe it is the variety of influences either forced upon or accepted by them, having been homeschooled just up the road from here in a small pink house in St. Joseph, Missouri. Regardless, these brothers have already made a name for themselves in an over-saturated music industry, and they still have a long career ahead of them.
On Thursday, September 24th, Arc Flash and Psychic Heat kicked off the first Classroom Series event of the semester in KSDB’s McCain studios. Both bands hail from Lawrence and embarked on a national tour together soon after leaving MHK. Space punk duo Arc Flash are currently filling in for the rhythm section of Psychic Heat, playing bass guitar and drums. This event was the first time the two bands had played together and the concert in Aggieville that followed the broadcast was the first official stop on the bands’ tour to New York and back. At Aggie Station, Arc Flash and Psychic Heat performed to a large and welcoming crowd, and good vibes were had by all. For more information about both bands, visit their Facebook and Bandcamp pages:
For more information on upcoming KSDB events, visit our events page.
Peanut butter vibes were abundant on Thursday evening as Oxford’s premier indie quartet, Glass Animals, entertained a sold out crowd at The Midland Theater. 3,000 people crammed into the room for an ambient evening of groovy indie-pop, preceded by a group of Spanish garage rockers.
Madrid’s Hinds warmed the crowd up wonderfully. Success has come swiftly to the all-female quartet, who sang upbeat garage rock while garbed in 90’s clothing with genuine smiles plastered on their faces. Hinds offered very little in terms of innovation, but were a fun opener. Vocalist Carlotta Cosials’s shrill croon was washed out in the large venue and ended up sounded more like a melodic yodel. The headbob-worthy guitar lines and cheeky harmonies more than made up for that.
After a 30 minute wait, Glass Animals emerged on stage shrouded by smoke, lights, and waves of jungle sounds. It was a fitting entrance for an aptly named band, and set the mood for the experience that was about to take place. Over the next 70 minutes, Dave Bayley pranced around the stage. His intense movement didn’t hinder his vocal quality, and the level of precision between the recordings and live product were impressive.
In an age where “real” instruments are becoming less than normal, it was refreshing to see the guitarist and bassist being engaged in the show by also playing synthesizers and controlling the accompaniment tracks when the guitars were not needed. They were obviously having as much fun as Bayley through a parade of colors and smoke that perfectly melded to the mood of each song.
Obviously, the highlights of the evening were crowd-favorites “Gooey” and “Black Mamba,” but the band unexpectedly covered Kanye West’s “Love Lockdown” and “Gold Lime” by Yeah Yeah Yeah’s. By covering both RnB and indie, Glass Animals solidified themselves as one of the most impressive genre-melding acts at this time.
It was a nearly perfect evening in a room full of so much energy. At multiple points Bayley told the crowd that Kansas City was his “home away from home,” and while that may have been merely a nicety, he performed like it was the truth.