I arrived early at The Granada for the show and spent my time watching the random crowd of friendly strangers file in. From moms bringing their daughters, to the cool college kids decked out in plaid and headbands, to the yuppies that just got off work, this crowd wasn’t missing any genre, there was even a Slipknot shirt spotted. Overall, the crowd felt relaxed, and unconcerned, that was until the opening band, Red Cortez took to the stage. The four piece is a recently signed group from Los Angeles and was surprisingly wonderful! It is rare that I fall in love with an opening band and this is one of them. I can’t tell you any names of their songs, but I can describe them as a rock ‘n roll band with a twist of rockabilly and a hint of an homage to the 50’s when the harmonica was cool and men used to roll a pack of cigarettes up in the sleeve of their t-shirts. Their lyrics were like heavy poetry that can only be absorbed by the crowd by the band sweating it out. The lead singer, Harley Prechtel – Cortez had a great voice that drew you in and and good sense of comedic timing. The band all together, I couldn’t take my eyes off of. They have fantastic chemistry that shows on stage and off. The bassist is originally from Overland Park, KS and was excited to return to play a show in Lawrence. I spoke briefly with the band and they all could not have been more courteous. They were willing to answer any questions I had, as well as just have a normal conversation about the town. I plan on bringing more information on this band as soon as I get a chance. I can tell you that the only recorded music they have out so far is an EP, but after the tour they plan on making a full album.
The second band of the night was The Henry Clay People. A band I had heard about, but never witnessed myself. Their quartet consisted of a pair of brothers, Joey and Andy, both singers and lead guitarists, a keyboardist, drummer and bassist. I’m sorry to say that after Red Cortez, Henry Clay just didn’t seem to do much for me. I believe they mellowed out the rest of the crowd as well through most of their set. They were more of a fun, summer garage rock sound to me, and at times, it felt unorganized. They weren’t bad, by any means, just not really my kind of music that night. I would compare them to the look of The Grateful Dead, as in: roll out of bed, put on my favorite pajama/rock clothes, fuck hair and let’s jam. Their sound is influenced by Creedence Clearwater Revival, but without the catchy riffs that CCR possessed. Although, they did bring it back in the end of their set with what seemed to be a virtual Rock Band set consisting of many members from Red Cortez and Airborne coming out to sing cover songs in unison. You would have thought you were watching a choir with how many people appeared on stage, but they had a great time and put a smile on my face in the end.
After that, there was some downtime for the stage set up and a young man took the opportunity to jump on stage and use the mic to propose to his girlfriend he proclaimed to have loved since grade school, she said yes.
The lights went down and a dark, ominous intro began for Airborne. One by one, they took their places on the stage in darkness and after Mikel grinded away on the keyboards for a moment, the lights came up and they busted into “Moving On.” They used a projector and screen behind them to show images through out the set. The opening scene was a TV being set furiously on fire over an over again to the beat of the intro. The lights were kept low to preserve that mysterious vibe and Mikel took to the mic and belted out that famously low voice that pulls you in. The crowd was instantly pumped and having fun dancing around to the songs or just staring intently at the insane activity on stage. This is one of the rare bands that doesn’t have a member that fades into the background because others are so outgoing. Everyone jumped and danced and moved in equal motion. It almost felt planned at times with the way they would all approach the mics and tease the audience and then quickly move away like a game of cat and mouse. Anna was probably the most outgoing of the bunch. One moment she would be encouraging the crowd to clap along with her, and when she was not playing her violin, she was stage diving into the crowd with a tambourine in hand. They played favorites like “Gasoline” and “Some Time Around Midnight”, which had the crowd chanting along in unison. They engaged the crowd in an acoustic set, which included “Wishing Well” and left drummer, Daren with a single snare. The band took time to thank the crowd for coming out and apologizing again for having to cancel this show back in February due to singer, Mikel having Laryngitis. The crowd didn’t seem to mind.
After the acoustic songs, the band did an awesome cover of “Goodbye Horses”, as it was almost unrecognizable at first. “Innocence” was probably one of the more anticipated songs of the night and as the first notes rang out in the humble auditorium, they didn’t go unnoticed. I loved how they seemed to drag the song out to twice the length it originally was, giving us more of what we want. They left the stage for a moment so, like every band, they can hear the chants of “Encore, Encore” enough to fill their ego meters. Just kidding, but they did come back out and play a few more, which was much appreciated by me and the crowd. The last few songs are a blur as I was in amazement at the sheer talent on stage as they blasted away on many instruments while simultaneously dancing with each other and captivating the audience.
When the show came to an end, Mikel jumped right off the stage and into the crowd of fans and began signing and taking pictures with them. Although most missed out on this, there was still a good amount of people standing and waiting for their chance to meet him. I introduced myself and we instantly started laughing about silly things. He was the same way with another fan, quoting Ron Burgundy for a good thirty seconds or so. I then noticed that most of the band was spread out over the floor meeting with fans and it suddenly hit me that I have spent that last year or two only going to NIN shows and this was all new to me again. I spent a few moments speaking with Anna and telling her how I admire her spunkiness and she seemed to be just like that off stage. This was a fun show and I would recommend checking them out live sometime, they don’t disappoint.
This is Nowhere
Letter to Georgia
(Book of Love)
Sometime Around Midnight
All I ever wanted
People who died
I give the show 4 “Sex Panthers by Odeon” out of 5. Because sixty percent of the time, it works every time.
Photos from the Show
by Angela Davis
Photos from the show by Angela Davis