Nearly a decade has passed since SHINER played their final show at the Madrid Theatre in 2003. The group left their legacy at a high point, having released a handful of acclaimed full-lengths and singles on labels ranging from Sub Pop (freshly into their Warner partnership) to Kansas City’s own Anodyne Records. The band was heralded for their affinity for twinkly, spaced out guitar work and chunky riffs, and were contemporaries of fellow space-rock cohorts Hum and Failure, managing to curate a sizable fan base in their eleven years of activity.
All things must come to an end, and the same is true for SHINER. The band existed no more, but the members were anything but silent in their projects that followed. Allen Epley returned shortly after with The Life and Times, a band that to this day releases material able to rival that of SHINER’s in their sonic magnitude. Josh Newton and Paul Malinowski (both formerly bassists in Season to Risk) as well as Jason Gerken (Molly McGuire) all saw fleeting glimpses of celebrity in their acts to follow, Newton joining nationally touring bands From Autumn to Ashes and Every Time I Die, and Malinowski and Gerken taking up with Open Hand.
Years of silence came from the band, and occasionally a blip would surface with rumors of a reunion. Record nerds had something new to be excited about in early 2012, when news that the band’s final full-length The Egg was finally getting the vinyl treatment. In addition to this, the band announced that they would come together for a few reunion shows later in the year. Four reunion shows, to be exact — and it doesn’t take a genius to piece together that Epley lives in Chicago, Newton in NYC, Gerken in LA, and Malinowski in KC, making three of the four shows in the largest metropolitan areas in the country, but only one in the best (spoiler alert: I’m talking about Kansas City).
Today, the Granada in Lawrence revealed that they will be the host of the band’s single area reunion, to be held Friday, August 24th. The $20 tickets will be released this Friday, and it is suggested that you grab yours quickly, as it will surely sell out. No openers have been announced yet, but come on, does that really matter?
UPDATE 04/24/12 — the rest of the band’s reunion shows have been announced, and are as follows:
08/11/12 @ Irving Plaza (New York City)
08/18/12 @ Echoplex (Los Angeles)
08/24/12 @ The Granada (Lawrence)
08/25/12 @ The Bottom Lounge (Chicago)
National Fire Theory. Let that name sink in for a moment. If you were attending local shows about ten years ago, you could barely step foot into the El Torreon without seeing flyers for the band’s frequent outings (whether there or for another place that was likely not all-ages), cheaply made stickers, and scrawlings of “NFT” in various public restrooms across the city. At one time, the band was on top of their proverbial game, and well on their way to playing larger and larger audiences. This time was before several lineup changes and the release of their Paul Malinowski-produced Blackout Days EP, when the band took a direction toward a more polished, radio-friendly sound, a move that effectively killed my interest in the quartet.
Let’s back up again, here. In the late ’90s, there was a teenage pop-punk band called The Sunshine Vandals. The band played frequently, albeit mostly at places like Gee Coffee. As is the case with many bands, SSV went through the kind of lineup changes that eventually lead to the natural evolution into an entirely new project. National Fire Theory was the end result of that evolutionary change, and in their origins, guitarist/vocalist Tim Gutschenritter (who these days is busy running the Riot Room) played with his brother Dallas (drums), Brad Schmitt (bass), and Jon Wessel (lead guitar/vocals). This was the lineup at its best, full of piss and vinegar, and guarded with a penchant for hooks that simultaneously gave credence to Thin Lizzy and Jawbreaker.
Fast forward to last month, and to my surprise I find a message from Jon Wessel in my inbox. In the email, Wessel details plans to pool his resources and find anyone out there who may have some rarities from the band, and the idea to eventually have everything available for free online. If enough interest is garnered, who knows, there may even be a proper reunion of the original lineup. Wessel is particular in his quest, and is looking for pre-Blackout material, most of which he already has and includes the Living With Nothing Left EP, the Ending With White Lights EP, and the unknown amount of live recordings and Cold Lampin volumes that are floating around. Any pictures or videos of the band are gladly accepted, as well as any high-resolution pictures of scans of their merchandise or flyers.
Wessel can be reached for information at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can also check out the newly created Facebook and Twitter pages. I leave you with the video below, the band’s first demo EP, and a taste of what’s to come once everything is made public.