By the time I walked into RecordBar shortly after 10:00, The B’Dinas were wrapping up the first song of a set that encompassed blues, rock, and soul in what is likely one of the most youthful embodiments of the sound in this city. Vocals were traded off from song to song among guitarist Katy Guillen (who also shreds in Katy and Go-Go), guitarist Meredith McGrade, keyboardist Katelyn Boone, and bassist Peter Lawless, backed by the rhythm of drummer Tess Jehle. The quintet only have two EPs to date, but their combined talents are best observed in the natural setting of a live music venue. Highlights include the multi-layered vocals in the party anthem “Five-Day Weekend!” and a cover of the Stones’ “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking,” wherein Boone took over bass while Lawless went blue in the face on a saxophone.
Philadelphia’s Arrah and the Ferns stopped in to illuminate the night with twee-tinged folk that surfs on an underlying punk mindset. The band has more or less been the project of Arrah Fisher for the last seven years, and today she remains the only original member. The set mostly dwelled upon songs from the recent Soldier Ghost EP, though live it was ultimately bereft of more than guitars, bass and drums. The twang in Fisher’s voice is honey-sweet, and only accented by the instrumentation of Ryan Belski, Buddy Szczesniak, and Mike Harkness. Though the music was euphonious and lyrics contemplative in their delivery, the group retained levity through banter and other stories. The last time Arrah and the Ferns played in Kansas City, they got added to an open mic night at the dueling piano bar down the street, playing a 30-minute set to a crowd of three. They were thrilled to be playing to what they said was at least three times that many this time (an accurate number, honestly) and were looking forward to playing to a few more people the next time around. Movin’ on up.
Local trio Claque drew the evening to a close with a garish set pockmarked with equipment issues and false starts. In spite of this, they completely owned the entirety of their thirty-five minutes on stage and performed a set that was thoroughly enjoyable, if not characteristically noisy for the kind of jagged indie rock they had to offer. If the inclusion of a cover song is any indication of influences, a take on Pavement’s “Frontwards,” and the wall of feedback with which it was accompanied, is as good as any. The rest of their time on stage developed into fuzzed out, mildly psychedelic indie pop that amiably recalled acts like The Pastels. I caught up with guitarist/vocalist Jacob Kruger for a few minutes after the show closed out, and he apologized for the band’s rough performance. No need, I told him, there is a certain charisma in the style of rock Claque play, and the feedback is a welcomed asset. Realistically, the sound would otherwise lack were it not for the mistakes that make it truly genuine.
By Greg Stitt