examining erasure and groundbreaking art in searching for augusta savage

examining erasure and groundbreaking art in searching for augusta savage

As more nostalgia topics have cropped up since the beginning of the – let’s admit it at this point – ongoing pandemic, PBS has been top of mind for so many people who were able to grow up – or raise their children – with its expanse of knowledge ringing throughout their homes. Having educational experiences accessible to many different demographics – and on public access television – is an important resource for many.

Searching for Augusta Savage is the first film in a new series from PBS called American Masters Shorts. Augusta Savage was a Harlem Renaissance sculptor and art educator, whose work largely reflected the joy and expression in the Black community. She overcame numerous obstacles to further her own education and get her work seen. She captivated audiences long before her death, and her art stood to progress the inclusion of Black artists in spaces they had otherwise been excluded from.

A curious thing is that many pieces of Augusta’s work have gone missing, and her name is not as well-known as it once was, or should be. Why is that? Why has her legacy not been salvaged and taught as widely as other artists of her time?

This 22-minute episode is a deep dive into what history can tell us about this incredible black artist’s life and work.

Augusta’s work is included in a show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism through July.

samantha fish & jesse dayton make the crowd go wild at the truman | kcmo

samantha fish & jesse dayton make the crowd go wild at the truman | kcmo

I’m not sure I could think of a better pairing than the indelible Samantha Fish and Jesse Dayton. Luckily, not only did they partner on a phenomenal album titled Death Wish Blues, but they are currently touring together with their incredibly unique styles of alternative blues. A more electric stage – and a more excited crowd – I had yet to see in 2024.

That all changed on Thursday, February 22nd. The Truman opened its doors to a full house, welcoming Samantha Fish back for a truly delightful hometown show. The band came out to near ear-piercing screams, and excited cheers of recognition with the first notes of the very first song. Smoke filled the crevices of the stage as Fish and Dayton’s mindblowing musicianship took over the warehouse space.

Selects from the evening below.

candlebox brings natural ease and sense of appreciation to a beautiful summer evening show in kcmo

candlebox brings natural ease and sense of appreciation to a beautiful summer evening show in kcmo

Since 1990 – give or take a few years here and there – Candlebox (updated lineup: Kevin Martin, Adam Kury, Brian Quinn, Island Styles, BJ Kerwin) has been lighting the stage with its endearing (and enduring) brand of Pacific Northwest grunge rock. Consistently, they’ve brought heavy-hitting sets to dedicated crowds with hints of glam metal and blues in tow.

What the band has not always conveyed in their performance, is a sense of nostalgia or wide-spanning appreciation. Citing the pandemic – and other circumstances over the years – lead singer Kevin Martin took things a little slower, leaving space for reflection during their set at Starlight Theater in Kansas City, MO on Wednesday, September 6.

Martin told us about his flawed and wonderful immigrant grandmother and his incredible parents – including a wonderful anecdote about a cradle-robbing father. He later took time to appreciate the people he – and we all – have lost too soon. Grief is a tricky bitch, and we have all been touched by it over the years. A sense of true empathy fell like a blanket over the Theater, on what was – admittedly – one of the most temperate and enjoyable evenings of the summer. (Despite the additional quilt of smog over us, brought down from the fires in Canada. Oops.)

Setlist
Don’t You
Change
Blossom
No Sense
Elegante
Arrow
Mothers Dream
He Calls Home
Cover Me
Far Behind
You

With COVID cases on the rise (despite what your local news might omit from its reports), photographers were not allowed a wide variety of angles to shoot from. However, the energy and the wild abandon are palpable through our Candlebox highlights, below.

divine sweater’s “in the comedown” dives into unknown waters

divine sweater’s “in the comedown” dives into unknown waters

Experience the electrifying sound of Divine Sweater, a boundary-pushing alternative rock band that captivates audiences with its distinctive style. Their latest release, “In the Comedown,” takes listeners on a journey of introspection and self-discovery through haunting melodies, powerful vocals, and a pulsating rhythm section. With a seamless blend of atmospheric textures and explosive energy, Divine Sweater’s raw emotion and thought-provoking lyrics create a musical landscape that leaves a lasting impact. 

Step into a mesmerizing visual realm as Divine Sweater’s music video for “In the Comedown” transports you through a kaleidoscope of captivating imagery and evocative storytelling. It starts off with a blue girl holding a plant. She sees a button that asks if she needs help, and she presses it. Nearby, four individuals riding scooters in suits make their debut. As soon as they pass, the whole she knows crumbles into oblivion…and an ape appears. They board a submarine together and escape that world and into the ocean, signifying a journey or escape from the previous world. The transition into the ocean can symbolize the depths of the unknown or a dive into the subconscious. Overall, this sequence in the music video portrays a surreal and transformative experience, where the protagonist undergoes a significant change and embarks on a new adventure with unexpected companions. 

The sea depicted in the video is described as a colorfully biodiverse environment, suggesting a sense of wonder and awe. The stunning graphics further enhance the visual experience. However, the presence of the scooter-riding individuals casts a shadow on the vibrant surroundings, enveloping them in darkness. This contrast may symbolize the intrusion of external influences or negative forces that threaten to overshadow the protagonist’s newfound adventure and exploration. It could represent the struggle to maintain positivity and overcome obstacles on the transformative journey. The juxtaposition of the beautiful sea and the encroaching darkness adds depth and complexity to the video’s narrative, highlighting the challenges and conflicts faced by the protagonist. 

The girl’s weariness after a game of checkers with the ape suggests a sense of exhaustion or perhaps a realization of a temporary respite from the challenges she has faced. As the submarine emerges from the depths of the waters, they return to dry land, marking a transition back to the familiar world. However, the ape finds his family, leaving the girl alone without companionship. This turn of events highlights a sense of isolation or a loss of the bond that had been formed. In close proximity, the presence of the “Need Help?” button reappears, prompting the girl to realize that it wasn’t her who the ape was helping all along. This revelation introduces a sense of ambiguity and raises questions about the true nature of the connections and support she encountered throughout her journey. 

As the girl finds herself alone after the departure of the ape and the realization that the help she sought was not meant for her, there is a sense of introspection and solitude. It reminds us that personal growth and understanding often come with unexpected twists and turns, where we may find ourselves seeking solace and connection, only to discover that our path is unique and intertwined with the experiences of others. The video’s evocative imagery and symbolic elements invite viewers to reflect on the complexities of relationships, self-discovery, and the profound impact of companionship and support. Ultimately, “In the Comedown” leaves us with a lingering sense of wonder and a reminder that our individual narratives are both interconnected and deeply personal, shaping our experiences and the meaning we derive from them.

young the giant’s multifaceted smoke show of an “american bollywood” set feels like a fever dream

young the giant’s multifaceted smoke show of an “american bollywood” set feels like a fever dream

…and we loved it.

It had, admittedly, been years since we had had the privilege of witnessing Young the Giant live and in person. Even as such, it was normally in a festival setting, so the set was a bit different than the headlining tours offered.

I have the honor of speaking to a couple who spoke about how they have followed Young the Giant on tour, witnessing their growth as they travel and experience different landscapes alongside their favorite band. As worrisome as a follower might otherwise seem, this couple seemed genuinely inspired by the music, and were truly living their best lives in love.

And if I didn’t understand the allure of Young the Giant before, I certainly do now. The colorful set was full of some of the most incredible textures, patterns, and colors you have ever seen on stage. Fringe surrounded a disco ball, warm and cool colors collided in carefully curated layers to bring the music to life in a way I have never seen – nor felt – before. Instant goosebumps were felt, and maintained throughout the set while memories associated with deep cuts flooded my mind.

Smoke danced around us – hence the “smoke show” – and magic filled the air. The crowd absolutely erupted when “Something to Believe in” began, and continued at that heightened energy throughout “Cough Syrup”. And that was just four tracks into their 17-track lap around the city. (From the confines of the Starlight Theater stage, of course.) The gorgeous instrumentals and beautifully woven lyrics that we have come to expect from this band continued into the night, on one of the most unseasonably cool evenings Kansas City has had yet to see this year.

Our favorite moments are below.

SETLIST
American Bollywood
Wake Up
Something to Believe In
Cough Syrup
The Walk Home
I Got
Nothing’s Over
Dollar $tore
Cult of Personality
Heat of the Summer
Dancing In The Rain
Mind Over Matter
Firelight
Superposition
Tightrope
Silvertongue
My Body