A small collection fans, musicians and hair-dressers gathered around The Riot Room bar on Saturday, May 2, sipping their beers and chatting while the opening band set up at the stage. It was a gorgeous day in Kansas City and all doors were open to the warm air, spring sunset and any wanderers stumbling down Broadway looking for a drink or some interesting live music.
“That’s them,” my friend said and nodded to a lanky, green-mulletted man and pink-haired woman standing alone between the stage and the bar. They had just walked in – the twosome that made up Gooch Palms. “You wanna meet them?”
Hailing from Newcastle, Australia by way of their new home in Los Angeles, Leroy Macqueen and Kat Friend had traveled a long way to get to our town and they looked a little tired. We approached and introduced ourselves and they smiled and exchanged pleasantries. Leeroy mentioned that he was sick with the flu and instantly the air of fatigue made sense. After Kat and Leroy headed downstairs, I looked at my friend and raised an eyebrow. “Don’t worry,” he said. “I’ve seen them before. They’re great.” He wasn’t lying.
But first, the opener – Kansas City locals Mime Game – played their set mostly uninterrupted aside from a few flirting girls and a pit stop by the bar for drinks. Lead singer Dillon DeVoe seemed a little drunk and taken with the attention he was getting from an adoring fan, but the band played a solid set, starting with several covers and then moving into their original music like their incredibly catchy “Do You”. The small crowd was excited and energized by the time Gooch Palms took the stage.
Kansas City was in the first quarter of Gooch Palms’ nearly 40 show American tour. From across oceans and half a continent, they brought their own brand of mid-tempo silly-ish, sun-soaked punk with a strong flair for showmanship. Speaking of showmanship, if flu-inflicted Leroy could still bounce around the stage singing, shouting and quipping about dingos in between songs, then full-steam Leroy must be a force of nature. Being a twosome – Leroy on guitar and the lead singer, and Kat waling on her small drum set and providing backup vocals – the music of Gooch Palms was minimalistic but their songs weren’t the sort that left the listener wishing for some kind of aural filler. Their songs, music and band itself all worked together to prove that less absolutely can be more.
If you missed Gooch Palms this time around, they’ll almost certainly be back soon. In addition to Kansas City, they play Wichita and Columbia on their way East so you’ll even have options. You can check out more from Gooch Palms at their website or on YouTube. If you haven’t heard any Gooch Palms, check out “How We Get By” and “Hungry” for starters.
Gooch Palms at SXSW 2015:
Written by Britt Batschke