Sometimes, a group of people and their hormones just come together to make a great night. That night was Afentra’s VD Party from 96.5 The Buzz. The show would host The Limousines, AWOLNATION and Fitz and the Tantrums for free at the Midland in Kansas City. The night started with hoards of people slowly flowing through the small openings in the building eagerly grabbing their beverage of choice. They began to find a spot to call their own and start mingling. Girls came in their highest heels and the men came looking as unwashed as possible. You know all the kids are going for that now. There were plenty of games set out by the radio station to keep people busy. There were giant inflatable penises to throw hula hoops around for prizes. There was also a heavy petting zoo area and something about applying condoms to dildos. They were even thoughtful enough to place bottles on tables for groups to join in their own eighth grade versions of spin the bottle, only now with alcohol. I could tell the games and liquor were beginning to set in when the air filled with pheromones and strange intoxicated men started approaching me and telling me about their hobbies with an influence on the innuendo in their voice.
The first band to come out and set the bar was one of my favorites, The Limousines from California. I had seen them once before a few months ago and this show blew that one out of the water. I could see they were in their comfort zone and there was something about the giant inflatable penises that just brought out an extra note in the duo. Lead singer, Eric Victorino is very shy-like and subdued in person and tends to shy away from the light, however, on stage he becomes a different person. His presence was a force to reckon with on stage that night. Gio Giusti, the other half of the duo runs all the keys/dj/technical aspects that make The Limousines so unique and fun. And yes, with two Italian names, you can imagine their excitement when they recently heard one of their songs on the disgustingly-epic show Jersey Shore.
They had about a fifty five minute set that was packed with most of the songs from their electro pop album Get Sharp, available now. The crowd was really enjoying it and used their set to work off some calories from those beverages. A fun moment in the night was when Eric proposed that we break the record for biggest public kiss in Kansas City. With Eric counting to three, he had everyone grab someone dear or just near to them and give them a smooch. The scene was pretty impressive from the balcony. After that set, I was convinced that The Limousines had just stolen the show for the rest of the night. The guys were on fire and the crowd could feel it. But the crowd wasn’t finished yet.
AWOLNATION was the next one up. AWOLNATION is the brainchild of Aaron Bruno, also from California. The other members on stage with him simply help the music come to life with the live performance. I had never seen him before but had been listening to his debut album, Back From Earth, recently. The full album drops March 15th. Everyone has probably heard his single, “Sail” on the radio and if that is all they have heard, they will be surprised at how different the rest of the songs are in comparison. He has a lot of influences from the eighties magic of Michael Jackson and Madonna, while infusing that with his version of hip hop. It’s most obvious that he makes music to enjoy and not to sell. And in return, he has found a crowd of people who also enjoy that same music. Aaron burst out on the stage so fast, it was hard to keep an eye on him. I caught a glimpse of him in between the gyrating and pulsating his body endured while enjoying what he does. Aaron is another person that is very quiet and reserved in person. Watch the interview here. There must be something about the stage that just brings out the crazy in this group of artists. As he chanted with the crowd, “this is the AWOLNATION!” and encouraged everyone to “take it up a notch” the crowd obliged him. In fact, the crowd got so wild, you might have thought that Andrew W.K. was in the house. There was not one, but four men that attempted to rush the stage and were thrown out of the venue, but not before giving us one hell of a show. The first guy attempted to stage dive into the crowd during one of the songs and it painfully resulted in a face planting on the front rail. Ouch! He walked out okay but I hope he didn’t have brain damage. The next two didn’t amount to much other than making in on stage, but the last was a bit amusing. He came from backstage, which I can only assume that he must have snuck past that guard was sleeping by the door. He pranced around on stage for a bit before the guards realized he was up there. He air humped a bit and showed us his own air-guitar next to the actual guitarist. The band was enjoying the one-man-show. One of the guards almost grabbed the man, when he pulled a 180 and dodged him, causing the guard to fall into the band’s equipment. The man was caught and promptly removed, but after all that, Aaron did gain a new shoe! Just one though.
So, from that description, you can imagine some of the chaos that ensued at the show. It all felt right though. Seeing this show was like being on the verge of something great. Seeing the next great thing before everyone has had a chance to hear them. I was highly impressed by the performance and the amount of energy that Aaron had sweat on stage for the fans. The fans seemed to be extremely happy with the performance as well as they would all jump in unison with Aaron to the songs, and sway as one big unit on others. There were multiple crowd surfers, but the one who did it best was Aaron himself. The face planting man could take a note from him. He climbed the rail in steps, all while singing, and in an instant, released himself from the guards holding him and began to swim around on the tops of his fans. What made it all the more festive were the blown up condoms floating around on the top of the crowd all night. If you get a chance, I beg you to go see AWOLNATION. Lost in Reviews will most definitely be watching the chaos again soon.
The headliner of the night rounded out the California trio as Fitz and the Tantrums; another group that I had been listening to fervently, but not seen live. The sextet consisted of Michael Fitzpatrick as lead singer and a very feisty Noelle Scaggs as the duo vocals and tambourine. Joseph Karnes, James King, Jeremy Ruzumna and John Wicks make up the indie rock soul group that mixes jazz vibes with a little bit of rock and roll. The group is very talented together in putting on quite a show. However, it really all comes down to Michael and Noelle. The two seemed to play a tug of war for the crowd’s attention throughout the show. Between Noelle’s powerful chords and convulsing body in a fantastic black fringe dress, and Michael’s version of a disco robot, it was hard to decide who to watch.
One thing I really liked about the group was how they seem to defy eras. If you were to travel through time and see the band as the first thing coming out of your time-traveling phone booth, you would have no idea what decade you were in. Glancing at Noelle, you might guess the roaring twenties. Taking a look at Michael in his snazzy well-fitted suit, you might think the fifties, but then look at his pitch black hair with a bleach-blonde streak in the front and you might say today. The rest of the band also wears their own look well, ranging from fashion you would see in local jazz clubs anytime from the sixties to today.
It was a bit strange, however, seeing Fitz after the rage that was AWOLNATION. Most times in concerts, you are built up from band to band, until you just explode with the finale. This show was set up a bit different. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day and the theme of this concert, watching AWOLNATION was like climaxing to your fantasy sex and seeing Fitz and the Tantrums afterward was the much needed cigarette to calm you down. They weren’t a total slow down though, there were still plenty of shirtless dudes jumping and grooving to the beats. I used the set more for calming down and took in the play of emotions running on the stage. The chemistry between Noelle and Michael could have been felt in the back of the room and was perfectly suited for this show. They seemed to battle in the songs between a love/hate relationship which was very entertaining and kind of hot. In one song, you could see an angry scowl being shot to one another as they sang about heartbreak and in the next song, the staring had a completely different meaning as leg humping and hair stroking was gently added. I really enjoyed their set, however I would have preferred to have seen them in a smaller venue. The thought of seeing the six of them crammed on a tiny stage in a smoky, hot bar would vibe so much better with the atmosphere they bring to the stage. If you get the chance to see them in a small or large venue, I would suggest you check them out. They have a very romantic aura, so bring a date and enjoy the couples swing dancing around you, or just join in!
Fitz and the Tantrums set list:
Don’t Gotta Work It Out
Winds of Change
Breakin’ the Chains of Love
Pickin’ Up the Pieces
Dear Mr. Prez
News For You
We Don’t Need Love Songs
AWOLNATION’s set list:
Kill Your Heroes
Guilty Filthy Soul
Not Your Fault
All I Need
Burn It Down
I give the VD show 5 “concealed bottles of booze” out of 5
by Angela Davis
Photos by Angela Davis