“Vista Kicks” it into High Gear

Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, Ice Storms are Dumb, but These Bands Rule



Who else is super sick of this winter crap? I am so tired of having to scrape my windows, bundle up, and nearly break my ass every time I try to leave my house. There is just something about that cold that just takes it out of you. I long for outdoor concerts, and sweating my ass off. I miss sunburns, and bug bites. I want to wear my jorts, and tank top outside like a weirdo. Sun’s out, gun’s out, y’all. Never mind that the Sunday before was porch-sitting weather. If you don’t like the weather in Missouri, wait a little bit. Anyway, I digress. Tuesday night saw the pit crew take on the challenge of going to a show in an ice storm. In addition to an ice storm, we also covered a new venue AND some hot new up and coming talent.

The Record Bar has been in Kansas City for a while, but just recently moved its location to Kansas City’s downtown. The venue has a nice and open feel to it, with a medium sized stage and dance area as well as tables in back and a large bar. The Tito’s Vodka girls were also in attendance, so the free shots were a nice little warm up before the evenings action.

Our first band braving the brutal weather was Kansas City’s own Scruffy and the Janitors (by way of St. Joseph, MO). I’ve heard these guys on the local radio a few times, and absolutely fell in love with their intense, high-energy music. Imagine if you will the dark, droning sound of Black Sabbath, the angst of the Sex Pistols, and the catchy riffing and stage presence of the Foo Fighters – that’s Scruffy and the Janitors. They juxtapose influences of hard rock from yesteryear, with catchy, crowd-pleasing sounds of today. Their darker sound still makes you want to dance your ass off, then slam a beer. Scruffy’s members include Steven Foster on bass and vocals, Teriq Newton on guitar and vocals, and Trevin Newton on drums. They were joined on stage by a second guitar player. These rad dudes have already graced the stage at SXSW and Middle of the Map fest – and I’d bet money that they’re only going to play bigger shows as more people discover them.

Second up were the dreamy sounds of Captiva.  These local heroes also hail from Kansas City. Captiva has been making music since 2013 and includes Jason Ries and Patrick McQuaid sharing guitar and vocal duties, Mike Stansic on bass, Luke Bakula on the keys, and Brandon Johnson on drums. Captiva’s sound can be described as dreamy and technical, with hints of jangly guitar and garage rock influence. I got a real “Minus the Bear” vibe to this band, but with a bit more funk and a lot more dance groove mixed in there.  Last August saw the band release their first full length album “Pay No Mind”. Captiva played a full set with samplings from that album and managed to squeeze a cover of “Paper Planes” by MIA into the set. Captiva is truly a captivating band to watch perform.

Finally, we have our touring band – the Vista Kicks. These cool kids from L.A braved the wild trek from their last stop in Wichita during an ice storm to make it out to Kansas City. I’ve driven through bad weather before, but I can’t imagine driving a van full of gear and people in an ice storm.

Vista Kicks is Trevor Sutton on bass and keys, Nolan LeVine on drums, Sam Plecker on guitar, and Derek Thomas on lead vocals. These dudes have been life long friends. Instead of the usual out of high-school summer jobs like flipping burgers or washing cars, these guys jumped right into getting paid for music. It started with gigs like playing Sinatra for a catered event, but in their spare time, they cultivated their own modern take on 70s and 80s music. The boys music blew up on Spotify and as soon as they knew it, they were selling out venues in their native LA and touring across the county.

Hot off the release of their debut full length album “Booty Shakers Ball”, the boys were quick in making sure a no single booty was still during their set. Decked out in shiny red blazers reminiscent of lounge acts of old, the dudes were here to show us a good time – bad weather or not.

The set started with the infectious “Work for Me”, then went into the equally catchy “Give Me Love” off of Booty Shakers Ball. The set was sprinkled with other gems from Booty Shakers Ball and their EPs “Babe” and “Chasing Waves”. We were also treated to a new song (I think it was called 20 something nightmare, but I could be totally wrong)

Despite the bad roads, icy weather, and less than ideal crowd size, Vista Kicks closed out an entertaining and fun show. All the bands proved that crowd size didn’t determine their stage presence – these bands played as if they were in front of a stadium full of cheering fans. The overall sound, stage presence, and sudden urge to dance really made the whole experience something to be remembered for quite some time.

Be sure to also check out the hilarious interview we managed to grab with Vista Kicks before the show. Not only could they play really well, but they were also super cool to talk and hang out with. I was personally REALLY nervous to interview such a cool band, but they proved to be down to earth guys who love playing great music.

Here’s wishing all the bands continued and elevated success in their futures. They all certainly have the talent and presence to make it happen.  

Vista Kicks


Scruffy and the Janitors


Photos by Josh Chaikin
Words by Dallas Hessel

Check out our interview with the band, here: https://photosfromthepit.com/vista-kicks-interview/

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