Spring time in Kansas City is great for a number of reasons – the temperature outside is perfect, the flowers are blooming, and of course, the concert scene really starts heating up.
May the Fourth (be with you) saw our intrepid photographer, Josh, and me, tagging along like Chewbacca, cover Joywave, Foals, and the Silversun Pickups at the beautiful Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland, presented by local alternative station 965 the Buzz. This show was a bit of a departure from our normal loud and fast metal shows, but we’re here for you to cover what’s really important – rock and roll!
The Midland was buzzing with excited concert goers. Joywave and Foals seemed to bring out as many fans as the headliners, Silversun Pickups. With this much anticipation for all three bands, this show already had the makings of a good night.
Joywave kicked off our show with an incredible opening act. The quirky quintet came to be in 2010 in Rochester, New York. The band is Daniel Armbruster on vocals, Joseph Morinelli on guitar, Sean Donnelly on bass, Benjamin Bailey on the keys, and Paul Brenner on drums. The band just released the album “Swish” in March, but is quite prolific, only releasing the album “How Do You Feel Now?” less than a year prior.
The set opened energetically with the song “Now”. Behind the band was a large orange banner that read “Due to circumstances beyond our control, Joywave will not be headlining tonight’s performance.” The band took several self-deprecating jabs at themselves while on stage. In addition to the humor, Joywave proclaimed their love for Kansas City. Daniel had a well-worn (and unwashed) Kansas City Royals t-shirt that he announced he would be giving “to the sexiest crown member.” Antics and giveaways aside, the band absolutely rocked the performance, with such fan favorites as “Tounges” and “Somebody New” before playing an extended outro and closing with the song “Destruction”
After the set, and during a smoke break, the guitarist Joseph took time to pal around with his many adoring fans. On stage, the members, save for the drummer, were all decked out in white t-shirts. I asked Joseph if this was on purpose, but Joseph assured me that it was not. A band with as much stage presence and charisma as Joywave, it can be assumed that the fashion choice for tonight was just a melding of similar minds.
Not to be outdone, our next band, Foals, erupted onto the stage with equal energy and synthy goodness. Foals began in 2005 in Oxford, England. The band is made up of Lead singer and guitarist Yannis Philippakis, drummer and percussionist Jack Bevan, rhythm guitarist Jimmy Smith, bassist Walter Gervers, and keyboardist Edwin Congreave. Despite joining us from across the pond, Foals has a huge place in their collective hearts for Kansas City, and have played the stage at the Midland multiple times.
The band opened up with their song “Snake Oil” from their newest album “What Went Down” The set continued, offering a good mix of songs from the groups four albums. The floor was full of movement and dancing, as Foals is often times impossible not to dance to. Halfway through the set, the band introduced their newest single “Birch Trees”, and the crowd went wild. By the way everyone was reacting to Foals, you would swear that they were the headliners. Foals wrapped up their eleven song set by playing “What Went Down” I’ll tell you what went down on that set – a great performance that rivalled the energy and excitement of the openers.
Last, but certainly not least, to the stage was our headliners, Silversun Pickups. Fun fact about the band’s name: The name is from the liquor store the band used to frequent. Getting some booze from this joint would often be called a Silversun pickup.
The band formed in 2002 in L.A. The fearsome foursome is comprised of Brian Aubert on guitar and lead vocals, Nikki Monninger on bass, Chris Guanlao on drums, and Joe Lester of keyboards. They currently have 4 studio albums under their belt.
The set enthusiastically opened up with “Cradle” from their newest release Better Nature. The mix of distorted guitar and elements of electronica really opened the crowd up. From there, Silversun played a mix of songs from their four album catalog. The initial set lasted 12 songs, but as any great headlining band, they came out with a three song encore, playing “Kissing Families”, “Dots and Dashes” and my personal favorite “The Wild Kind”
Although Josh and I don’t cover many alt-rock shows, this was certainly a fun departure. The bands features at the show give hope to the future of alternative rock. Many people say that alt-music peaked in the 90s, but after seeing this show, I will have to wholeheartedly disagree. The future is bright for alt-rock, thanks to bands like Joywave, Foals, and Silversun Pickups.
The tour will be smashing through the upper Midwest before hitting the east coast later this month. Be sure to check out the tour dates at http://silversunpickups.com/tour/ and don’t miss out on this show if it’s in your area.
Words by Dallas Hessel
Photos by Josh Chaikin