Buzz Beach Ball with The Smashing Pumpkins

Hundreds of fans battled through the rain and cold to see a great day of music. For some it was a time machine straight back to high school, as Cake and The Smashing Pumpkins would soon take the stage. Prior to this live rendition of a 90’s mix tape, it was time for new faces to become part of their own play list.

Before the rain would set in for a bit, Chicago natives AM Taxi would take the stage. As the crowd filtered in through the cloudy weather, the punk pop band filled the air with their confidence. The quintet felt comfortable on stage and there was a hint of de ja vu as they were at this same venue in August for Warped Tour. Lead Singer, Adam Krier, guided the band with his cigarette-induced raspy voice that brought back memories of smoky night clubs when bands would drink whiskey on stage. AM Taxi was that kind of band, a band that didn’t need any crowd recognition to know that they were good, this came through in their music. Their layered sound pushed through the cold bodies of the dampened crowd bringing them back to life as the crowd began to move. AM Taxi brought what was one of the highlights of my day with “Paint It Black”, a Stones cover. It’s always a bold move to cover The Stones, but AM Taxi pulled it off flawlessly while adding their own style at the same time.

The next performance we caught was the much anticipated Limousines. The crowd seemed it’s fullest at this point in the day and the rain had subsided for the moment. The Limousines blasted out on stage with much enthusiasm and energy, calling out those who were hiding from the rain. Lead vocalist Eric Victorino was hard pressed to stand still as he joyfully paced the large stage. He may have been losing his voice and feeling a bit under the weather, but you would never have known from the stellar performance he gave the audience. The other half of The Limousines is Giovanni Giusti who runs a plethora of equipment, anything from a drum machine to an iPad, which was definitely a highlight of the show. Gio was also very full of energy and managed to work up quite a sweat running the table full of electronics. They played crowd favorites like “Very Busy People” and “Internet Killed the Video Star”, but for those of us who have been listening to The Limousines since the beginning “The Future” was the standout song of the set. This song has been quoted by Eric as a favorite of his own, “because it’s true” and I would have to agree. “The Future” has a very strong message that people should take the time to listen to. Although their set was cut a bit short as they were planning on playing “Wildfires”, the set was fulfilling and exactly what I was looking for from the band. I would highly suggest their new album Get Sharp to anyone and if you ever get ta chance to see them live grab a spot right up front and prepare for amazement.

While I missed a few songs during A Silent Film’s set, what I did see was fantastic. The only thing that was disappointing about my experience with A Silent Film was where they were playing. The band had flown from England for their very first show in the states and landed themselves on a trailer next to the stage they should have been playing on. Their music demands the attention of more than the small crowd that witnessed their melodic set. Those that were there were not to be moved, the rain soaked their clothes and hair, but nothing but smiles filled their faces. Lead singer Robert Stevenson’s melancholy tone set in great against the cloudy background as the crowd sang along. I cant wait to see the band again, but hopefully next time it will be to a wider audience and on a proper stage.

Anberlin was the first band we caught playing after the sun had set and the chill of the night had set it. The main stage was lit up with bright purple and red lighting as the members sought to entertain the crowd. I will be the first to admit that I hadn’t really heard Anberlin before tonight. This is mainly due to my avid dislike for listening to radio stations in Kansas City as they are all commercials and a play list consisting of four new songs and twenty songs from 1998 and before. However, I was vaguely familiar with their radio release, “Impossible” and noticed the crowd was really enjoying it as well. As for the rest of the set, it was enjoyable, but failed to truly stand out. You may know that they have been labeled as a “Christian band” and though I am usually not a fan of anything Christian, these guys were able to surpass that label tonight and really show the talent on stage as entertainers, not bible thumpers.

Next up was one of the main stays of the night, Cake. Lead singer John McCrea found his way to the stage dawning his classic grisly beard and sporting entertaining white gloves. McCrea was definitely in a preachy mood tonight as the band played through their set of fan favorites and radio hits a like. McCrea divided the crowd into two halves to help him sing a new song, one half of the crowd was labeled as escapists, the type of people that delve deep into the fantasy of vampires and Tolkien according to McCrea. The other half of the crowd were the angry rebels the ones that are fed up with what’s going on in the world. While I was in the escapist section I would have preferred to change my views. While the sing along did provide for some political entertainment it was hits like “The Distance” that brought the crowd to it’s knees. Cake’s performance was one of my favorites of the night reminding me why their CDs had spent so much time in the soundtrack of my youth. While the band has experienced line up changes and the ups and downs of the music industry they can still bring it live and are a must see for anyone who enjoys their sound.

Kansas City locals The Beautiful Bodies closed out the second stage for the night and provided entertainment between set changes from Cake to Pumpkins on the main stage. Again, I am showing my naivety by admitting my absence of The Beautiful Bodies’ existence in my world. This mistake was quickly rendered by their explosive force on stage  which demanded my attention. So much so, that I wasn’t even able to dance around like the others in the crowd with me. Instead, I was awe struck by the sheer confidence and energy the group brought to that tiny stage. For those who haven’t seen them, I would compare them to bands such as Yeah Yeah Yeahs, or Semi Precious Weapons. If you were looking for a more popular band comparison, go to another website. It’s hard to take your eyes off of lead vocalist Alicia Solombrino, tonight in a one piece black leotard with ruffles that almost overcame her small stature. It resembled something Lady Gaga would have worn before her big budget came into play. Taking a breath from watching her to look at the rest of the gang, one would think that without Alicia, the band might have been called Nerdtastic. I kid, I kid. What was important was how well everyone played on stage. The band blends well with Alicia’s spunky voice, and each member provides their own flair to the sound but none stand out above the rest. This works as the members are not trying to out do each other, but rather be one cohesive band. Their hit song, “You’re a Risk”, which has been played on 96.5 The Buzz according to Alicia, was the finale to their short set, however no less energetic than every other song played. I was definitely impressed by The Beautiful Bodies and will be looking for more opportunities to see them live, I suggest you do the same.

For the final band of the night we were graced with the presence of Billy Corgan and The Smashing Pumpkins. The minute their reflective wind mills were revealed and the band took the stage I was reminded of the 90’s; the  times I would listen to Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness on the drive to school or search endlessly for my “Bullet with Butterfly Wings” t-shirt. I remembered how I had always wanted to see the band live but due to age and timing I was never able to. Thanks to 96.5 this would be graciously remedied and The Smashing Pumpkins would be removed from my bands I haven’t seen list. While the name Corgan is usually followed by stories of painful shows and whiny antics, Kansas City was in luck as it seemed we had found the band on the upside of a good mood. Corgan looking much taller in person commanded attention while his military button up coat and scarf symbolized his ability to lead a revolution, if he chose to do so. While they did go back and forth from lesser known songs to radio hits, it was the more well known songs that were nothing but welcome. From the starting note of  “Tonight, Tonight” I knew that we were in for a good show. This later wold prove to be true as the band was definitely in tune with the needs of the frantic crowd. While we did get songs like “Bullet with Butterfly Wings”, it wasn’t until the final song of the night that the child inside was completely satisfied. I have to say that I was worried that I would have to go with out hearing my favorite Pumpkin’s song, but when Corgan ripped into “Zero” my heart began to pound and I couldn’t help but to sing along. Overall, The Pumpkins put on a fantastic show satisfying all that came to see them. If you do get the chance to catch them on a leg of this tour I would highly suggest it especially if you are an old fan that may have let them go. Sometimes its good to give a band a second chance to win you over, and that’s exactly what The Pumpkins did.

We give Buzz Beach Ball 4 “Internet Killed the Radio Show” out of 5

by Angela Davis and Ryan Davis

Photos by Angela Davis

About Ryan Davis

Ryan is the Founder of Lost in Reviews, a member of The Kansas City Film Critic's Circle, and a key component in the movement to digitally restore the 1986 classic film The Gate. Ryan is also the co-host of Blu Monday a DVD and Blu Ray review show which Lost in Reviews co-founder Angela Davis also appears. While he may be a film and music snob, that doesn't mean you can't be friends. Well it could if you don't like the same bands or films he does, overall it might be best to avoid the subject all together.

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