I overheard a conversation at The Brick on Saturday night, wherein two patrons discussed briefly that the show happening that night was a reunion, of sorts, for the Manhattan, KS, music crowd of the mid ’90s to present day. Though it may have been spoken as a bit of an exaggeration, the pitifully filled room would beg to differ. Standing about the floor were a few dozen concert goers engaging in conversations or entertaining themselves at the bar, almost all of them having been of the age to have witnessed not only Little Apple locals Egomaniacs‘ initial shake as a performing band, but to have also been witness to the members’ previous acts, of which there are many.
The night opened right after 10:00 with The Chaotic Goods playing a 35-minute set. Though the members hail from various parts of Kansas (namely the city to which I have referred), the five-piece now collectively call the Kansas City area their home. I had experienced the band’s set only once prior (at the same venue, no less), and concluded upon the second time that in the nine months since then, the band has cut a lot of the fat out from their sound. Gone was the hour-long, multi-genre set, in its place a well-trimmed handful of songs displaying what I initially liked best about the band: quirky, nerdy and poppy rock songs with an added bite. So well received they were, that even as an opener, the crowd that gathered requested an encore. That may have been the already freely flowing drinks talking, though. Overall, vocalist and frequent air guitar player Ralph Reichert harmonized well among guitarists Marty Robertson and Ray Kristek, only falling flat with one another a time or two.
“Good evening,” drummer/vocalist Tyson Schroeder proclaimed once sitting behind the kit at 11:15, “we’re (the) Medicine Theory, and we love whiskey.” What followed was a 40-minute set that calls to mind the best stripped-down Chicago and twin cities filth that Amphetamine Reptile Records ever released in the early days of noise rock (refer to the first few installations of the Dope, Guns & Fucking in the Streets compilations or St. Louis band Drunks With Guns for guidance in this area). Joined only by guitarist Jeff Irvine and a variety of pedals, the duo blasted through weird, out-of-tune, and often downright crude songs that covered topics from pornography to Presidential hopefuls. That’s a two-for-one, actually, as both appeared in the same song, along with the line “I’m gonna occupy Rick Santorum’s mouth.” Some in the crowd seemed uneasy, but Schroeder’s light-hearted banter and the public calling out of those who were leaving between songs kept up the mood.
Egomaniacs started their 45-minute set about 12:30 and ran through more than a full-length’s worth of songs in that time. I recall in my younger days listening to the band’s only legitimate album, Primer (their triple-disc The Rest Of can be found in digital format as well), and thinking how great it would have been had I not completely missed out on their existence. This night was only one of a few reunion shows the band has played since they parted ways about a decade ago. Not to say the members have not kept busy with great projects in the interim, as singer/guitarist John Evans has kept himself busy with music for the last 15 years. The band’s live show was both deafeningly loud and blindingly fast, all of the songs played at a rhythm that puts the source material to shame. Evans would mostly shout or growl the words to the songs, occasionally hitting a shriek reminiscent of Black Francis or Poster Children’s Rick Valentin. Despite the crowd yelling for more songs at the end, the trio gave a thank you and quietly left the stage.
I Dress Smartly
In Europe They Like Their Metal with Swords
Short Bus Union
Nerd talk: As mentioned above, John Evans (not to be confused with the KC-based Evans with the stage name John Velghe) is a rather prolific musician in his hometown of Manhattan, KS. Before forming Egomaniacs, he spent time with Marty Robertson in El Fontain, and since then has been seen in The Pembertons, Faultlines, Variable Speed Control, The Goodbye Sort (with Egos bassist David Boomer), The Hard Guilt (with Egos drummer Matt Anderson), and Thick Electric (once again with Boomer on bass).
Tyson Schroeder and Jeff Irvine have been playing music together intermittently for nearly two decades. First, in the ’90s noise band Methods of Man, then upon both members residing in the same city once more, in the mid-’00s rock band (I hesitate to refer to it as noise, as it has much more melody than the current project) under the name of kill.pop., a band which essentially morphed into MT. In addition to the listed bands, Irvine has played with instrumental rockers Auternus and is currently honing A Light Within for their debut live performance this spring. Schroeder, who when not professing his affinity for adult beverages and entertainment, is a locally renowned artist (and creator of the poster you see at the top of this piece), and plays in Knife Crime with Byron Huhmann, a doorman at The Brick, and Brad Huhmann, who played in Onward Crispin Glover with Marty Robertson.