lawrence field day fest: the summer music festival you don’t want to miss

lawrence field day fest: the summer music festival you don’t want to miss

There are more than a few reasons to partake in Lawrence Field Day Festival this coming weekend. Now in its seventh installment, the 3-day annual event in Lawrence, Kansas continues to feature great live music from dozens of bands at a very affordable ticket price. The festival runs Thursday through Saturday.

Started by Cameron Hawk and Quinton Cheney in 2012, LFDF was envisioned as a live music showcase for Lawrence residents while University of Kansas was on summer break. Of course, students are welcome at LFDF, but the environment on Mass Avenue is different, in a good way, when there are about twenty-thousand fewer people clogging up the joint.

And, fewer students is the first reason you should attend. If you’ve had prior experiences in downtown Lawrence in which it took you five minutes to drive one block, or you’ve ended up parking 4 streets over, or you’ve had your shoes puked on by a drunken frat boy celebrating his 21st, then you really need to come to LFDF. You will finally be able to devote your attention to music.

Another perfect reason to attend is the cost. It sounds almost unbelievable, but you can get a wristband with 3-day access to five venues and sixty bands for only $15. So far this summer, I’ve heard of no festival offering so much music for such a low price. And the great music is the other best reason to attend.

Lawrence Field Day Fest has featured several genres of music, but there is an undeniable focus on rock, and secondarily on hip-hop. Although Lawrence and Kansas City are well-represented, this year’s fest is pulling in talent from Denver, St. Louis, Minneapolis, and other cities. Let’s do a look and listen on some of this year’s bands.

Truck Stop Love will make a visit from the past. The early-90s rockers are back after a 25-year hiatus and a couple of personnel changes. Known for their county fuzz rock, the Manhattan, KS band hits the Bottleneck for the Black Site Records Showcase on Saturday at 11 pm.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/truckstoploveband/
Listen: https://truckstoplove.bandcamp.com/track/you-keep-searchin-3

Denver punk rockers The Windermeres are scheduled for 7 pm on Friday at the Replay Lounge.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thewindermeres/
Listen: https://thewindermeres.bandcamp.com/track/angel-of-batavia

You can get a dose of electro hip hop from Lawrence’s own Sean Hunt, aka Approach, at the Replay Lounge at 9:30 pm on Friday.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Approach1
Listen: https://approach.bandcamp.com/track/the-luv-2

If you missed Bruiser Queen when they played the Riot Room in Kansas City back in March, you’ll have an opportunity to take in some good indie garage pop from the St. Louis two-piece. Just show up at Jackpot Music Hall at 9:15 pm on Friday.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bruiserqueen/
Listen: https://bruiserqueen.bandcamp.com/track/sugar-high

The Ghoulies want to show you punk rock with a bluesy, garage feel. Adding an organ to the mix only amps up the excitement for this Denver band that’s been busy touring all summer. See them at the Replay Lounge on Saturday at 11:45 pm.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theghouliesband/
Listen: https://theghouliesdenver.bandcamp.com/track/texas-machete-2

The Bottleneck has been involved in LFDF since the inception, and will have about 20 acts during the Fest. Don’t miss metal rockers Hyborian of Kansas City at 12:15 am Friday night. Bringing a mystical and sci-fi vibe to metal, Hyborian built their own studio in the West Bottoms.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HyborianRock/
Listen: https://hyborianrock.bandcamp.com/track/maelstrom

The immutable laws of physics will prevent you from seeing the complete sets of all 60+ bands at LFDF, but some of the other acts that I’ll make a point to see this weekend are The Uncouth, Westerners, Momma’s Boy, Headlight Rivals, The Sluts, The Goodbye Sort, Vigil and Thieves, and Stiff Middle Fingers.

Check out the complete lineup and schedule for Lawrence Field Day Festival at: http://hellohamhawks.wixsite.com/lawrencefielddayfest/schedule

how paramore’s july 7th performance in kc woke me up

how paramore’s july 7th performance in kc woke me up

I write this, now, in the early morning, mere hours after Hayley Williams, Taylor York, Zac Farro, and their cohorts in Paramore walked off the stage at Kansas City’s picturesque Starlight Theatre. I have always – since I was blessed enough to go to my first show at age 9 – preached the importance of live music in all of our lives. I took many of my friends to their first concerts growing up, have had some stellar moments myself, and have had the joyous opportunity to experience live performance consistently in my life. I won’t go more in depth into it all, but I think you get the picture. I’ve been around this block once or twice.

I’ve even seen Paramore before. Albeit, it’s been years since I was able to introduce the magic of Hayley Williams to a handful of my friends at Warped Tour 2007. And perhaps that magic wore off a bit, as I became slightly more jaded by my experiences, and didn’t feel the need to pursue Paramore’s musicianship as they climbed in popularity. It was never out of disdain for the band, or even a dislike of the music. In fact, as singles like “The Only Exception”, “Still Into You”, “Ain’t It Fun”, and others surfaced, I found myself enjoying them insanely in rotation on the radio. Because Paramore has that pop appeal, their songs incredibly catchy and produced to perfection.

But the words are what really get me. At the core of it all, I am a big believer in lyricism. If you miss the mark instrumentally, but you have a mellifluous chorus full of double entendre, intelligent verbiage, or raw emotion, then I’m likely to listen. Hayley Williams does that.

Hayley Williams did that last night. Songs the band had written at differing points in life, songs that others have been into since the moment the album dropped in 2017, those songs reached my ears last night. Perhaps I’ve heard them once or twice, perhaps more. But last night, I was prepared. Last night, I listened.

Hayley explained that After Laughter is her favorite work of theirs to date, as long as they’ve been enchanting fans around the world. This struck me as odd, as the synthy, 80s-influenced work followed a current mainstream pattern that hit me wrong to begin with. But she explained that the album was about something deeper, their individual struggles – including her divorce and struggle with mental health – masked with this upbeat, insatiable soundscape. But she said she enjoyed that aspect, because it wasn’t fooling anyone but they could still have fun on stage during tour.

And, really, that was such an inspiring sentiment. Increasingly, people are coming out of the woodwork, detailing their struggles with their health, whatever form that may take. I, myself, have struggled immensely with diagnosed anxiety and other health issues, and find it so incredibly refreshing when an artist who has experienced success becomes vulnerable for the benefit of the world around them. If only everyone could be that courageous.

The band slowed their set down for “26”, Hayley’s ode to her 26th year that she wrote for After Laughter. I focused on the lyrics. And I identified with them. This song was me when I was 26. I was scared, I felt limited creatively and emotionally, and I felt alone. Hayley’s inability to hold it all completely together during this song increased its vulnerability, deepened her connection with the audience. Because, after all, I believe everyone can relate to that song on some level, and it made for a beautiful moment during the show.

You best believe Paramore rallied into the evening, bringing out fan favorites like “Misery Business”, “crushcrushcrush”, “Hard Times”, and “Ignorance”, and – though they chose not to regale us with my personal favorite, “For a Pessimist, I’m Pretty Optimistic” – I realized that I’m on a very similar journey in my life. If we take time to open our eyes, we really all are. We are all “fake happy” sometimes. We go out of our way to please others, allowing ourselves to stay in dark places. We fall and we want to cry and we feel unsupported. We feel like there is no space for success in our lives. We have bad days.

But it’s live music, it’s that connection we all have to one another – enjoying musicianship and life in what can only be described as a sacred space – that keeps us all floating. We’ll all hit “26”. We’ll all have that “Still Into You” love. (I’m lucky. That’s the Paramore song I have been living out lately.) We all want “Ignorance” to be our best friends. We just need to be open to being vulnerable. And – without worshipping the artist themselves – we can find inspiration in what these musicians create.

I know I did. Since last night, I can’t stop writing. I had a dance party this morning to my two new vinyls (After Laughter, Riot!) already. And I feel awake.

***

Local band YOU MONSTER YOU opened the evening around 6pm, with a performance at the Applause Club inside the venue. As Paramore fans streamed in, they welcomed them with their fun and upbeat brand of alt punk rock. “This is a song that sounds like it’s about leaving a small town behind and moving somewhere else, but really it’s about crippling depression,” frontman Trent Munsinger explained to the crowd about their track “Dodge”, which perhaps opened up the mental health theme of the evening.

The band was full of quips, quite the entertainment to get the crowd ready for an evening of Jay Som, Foster The People, and Paramore. A couple of songs into their set, You Monster You performed one of their original songs for the first time in front of a crowd, with a stand-in guitarist. They hit all the right spots with it, and at the end Trent confessed he was happy it wasn’t a train wreck, while the band noted it was “a solid B+.”

Keep up with You Monster You here.

brianna blackbird of heart hunters experiences magical mystery tour

brianna blackbird of heart hunters experiences magical mystery tour

I think it was 93 or 94, I must have been seven, we lived in an old mill town on the Willamette River, outside of Portland, Ore. It rained a lot. It was melancholic and beautiful.

I had my own CD player, I loved it, I painted it with glitter nail polish. I had two CD’s only at first. One of which deserves no mention (some Disney movie BS) and the other, Magical Mystery Tour by The Beatles. I remember buying them at the mall.

Listening and playing music inside while it rained outside was a big part of my childhood. I remember feeling like my CD player and my CD’s were gold. They were sacred. I would save up my allowance and go to the Mall and buy CD’s. My brother was always trying to sell me things. Once he sold me a nearly dead Lizard, it died within hours of me buying it. But when I could dodge his tempting sales pitches, I bought CD’s.

My Dad was a classic rock guy all the way. He was an elementary school music teacher, and mostly a pianist. When my brother and I were young though, I remember him listening to music more than playing. He would spend weekends rearranging the garage or the living room in our old farmhouse, listening to Fleetwood Mac or The Band or The Beatles or something at top volume. Our house was always uncluttered and I was exposed to a constant stream of really killer music.

I was taught to worship the Beatles at an early age, but my choice to go with Magical Mystery Tour over another record was partly the influence of a friend, and the fact that it was probably the only album my Dad didn’t have. Surely he had every other Beatles Record.

I can’t remember the name of this said friend, but my memory of her is like something out of a David Lynch film – but a kid-friendly non-violent David Lynch film. Play dates at her house were always unsupervised and bizarre. We would sit in her basement listening to her copy of Magical Mystery Tour. I think it was a tape. She was the only other 8-year old around who also dug the Beatles. I remember The Hanson’s and The Spice Girls being all the rage amongst my friends. I only knew her for that year, was it second or third grade? I can’t remember. She claimed to see ghosts and wore a lot of black for a seven or eight year old. I thought she was the coolest, jamming out to the Beatles in her basement, hoping for the ghosts to come.

My Dad (Like so many others) regarded the Beatles as the best band EVER; Of course I was massively influenced by them, I think it’s hard to find someone who hasn’t been influenced by the Beatles. I think it’s important to mention how into black music they were – John Lennon was the one who named Chuck Berry “King of Rocknroll”. Was it appropriative? Sure. Rocknroll was, as we all know now, created by black people. Some of their songs feature some sexist language. You have to see them in their context, growing up in post-War England. But what they did with it all – using the Indian music and western classical, all woven together with the power and magic of this Black American idiom. With acid! So in 2018 I could look at some lyrics and think they are less cool… But their musical genius is undeniable, and their work is canon.

Keep up with Heart Hunters here.

charlie smyth experiences esc4p3

charlie smyth experiences esc4p3

The first album I purchased was ESC4P3 by Journey (1981).
I wasn’t familiar with their music, I just liked the album cover (I should mention that it was a cassette..I had just gotten my first “boom-box”). King Tut had toured through Chicago a couple of years before, and the Scarab meant a lot to me. So did the “1337 sp34k”–Google it if you aren’t familiar–on the cover. I spent much of late 1981 reproducing that cover in my school notebooks. I liked the imagery so much that I bought a baseball tee bearing the same imagery at the record store along with the album, still not having heard any of their tunes.
I had been brought up on The Clancy Brothers and Dean Martin and really didn’t care much for rock music, however I was determined to start “fitting in”. After all, I was 13 and I was tired of telling my schoolmates that rock wasn’t really music. Anyway, Journey is what I got. I told the other kids they were my favorite band, and I hadn’t really listened to another so I suppose it was true. I was informed pretty quickly that Journey was “a band girls liked” which I thought was just about as stupid as everything else. Within a year I had moved on to Motorhead and was in a whole other world of stupid. Before that, however, I stuck to my guns and picked up all of Journey’s cassettes through the Columbia Record and Tape Club. ESC4P3 remained my favorite and I continued to draw that album cover over and over.
It’s kinda funny, but listening to that album startles me to this day. It still has that 90s Platinum feel that simply is what it is…mostly due to Steve Perry being the Streisand of pop-metal. “Don’t Stop Believin'” is the highest-selling digital single of the 20th Century. I did think at the time that “streetlights…people…” was nicely abstract and potent. I can’t honestly say that I like the song. The feeling is more like love; the kind of love you feel when you’re thirteen and simply don’t know any better. It was also one of the first albums I listened to with headphones. Listening in my bottom bunk on my boom-box scared me sometimes. I had to take off the ‘phones and look around the room because it was so “real”. It was real. It was my first album. That’s all there is to it.

Keep up with Charlie Smyth here.

chuck westmoreland experiences no parking on the dance floor

chuck westmoreland experiences no parking on the dance floor

In the summer of 1984 I was four years old.  I was over at my aunt’s apartment hanging out with my cousin who is about ten years older than me.  She had some friends over and they were listening to music and dancing around listening to a tape that was unlike anything my tiny brain had ever heard, nothing like Conway Twitty, nothing like Itsy Bitsy Spider. The shit was FUNKY with electronic hand claps and a vocoder vocal part that kept saying “electricity” over and over.

I haven’t thought about this in twenty years and had to look it up before writing this.

It was the song “Electricity” by the band Midnight Star off their album No Parking On The Dance Floor.  This record also has the track “Freak-A-Zoid”, which is a term I still use daily but didn’t know where it came from until right now reading their Wikipedia page.

This is the type of freaky electro funk that has stood the test of time.  There is probably, right now as I write this, a hipster in a warehouse somewhere high as fuck on dolphin tranquilizers shaking his or her ass to this.  Also, this shit is like 8 minutes long–it just keeps on giving.

Later that evening I was sitting at my granny’s kitchen table underneath the painting, that I think everybody’s grandparents have, of the old guy with the white beard and flannel shirt praying with a loaf of bread and  a bowl of soup on a table in front of him. I’ve got one hanging in my kitchen and there’s also one hanging in the bar I go to. I don’t even know what it’s called but I love it. My dad came in and I told him about the song and he was like “Oh yeah, I know that song, it’s great! I’ll pick you up a copy from the record store.”

I was excited and couldn’t wait to listen to it over and over.

The next day he gave me this album.  I put it on my little Fisher Price record player but it wasn’t the same.  I said, “Dad, whats this!? Where’s the handclaps and the wiggly sounding synthesizer and the robot voice!?” He said, “Naaah, this is what you wanted right? This is the Police son! This is the shit!”

Turns out it was not “Electricity” by Midnight Star but rather “Synchronicity” by the Police.  I’m not sure whether he knew he was making a mistake or not. Maybe he thought that I wouldn’t notice. Maybe he had been wanting to buy this record but was embarrassed and then relieved at the opportunity to purchase it under the guise of fulfilling the wishes of his son.   

I was fucking livid.

Many years have gone by since the first time I listened to “Electricity” by Midnight Star at my cousin’s dance party in my aunt’s apartment in Shreveport as a young child.  I’ve remained haunted by Sting well into my adulthood. This was strongly reinforced by his portrayal of Feyd Rautha in Dune.  First you shit on Midnight Star and then you try to take out the Kwizatz Zaderach?  You really gotta have ALL them fucking candles in your music video? Tantric sex, etc…

So, my first record was Synchronicity by The Police, but it was supposed to be No Parking On The Dance Floor by Midnight Star.  I don’t know if its influence is immediately apparent in my songwriting but it’s there for sure.  Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat with my heart beating like an 808 hand clap and hear that sweet vocoder melody out there calling to me from the darkness.

Keep up with Chuck Westmoreland here.