It takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears to put on a great live show, and on Friday night the folks who have been putting on live shows in Lawrence for years got recognized for their efforts. Eleven Productions celebrated their ten years of existence with an out-of-this-world birthday celebration, and once again we the people got to reap the benefits.
Six venues hosted forty bands and hundreds of music lovers from around the area. Concert-goers spent the night running from one venue to another in hopes of catching all their favorite local and regional acts. Here are some highlights from the show.
Sean Bergman got things quietly rolling on Friday night. The familiar musician-about-town started off his solo acoustic set at Love Garden with a Muscle Worship song. The town’s favorite record store was turning out to be the place for acoustic performances early in the evening. In fact, BaioWolf had just knocked out an acoustic set a few minutes earlier.
It was so beautifully quiet in Love Garden that you could hear Sean gently taping his foot to the music. The air in the store was just still enough that you could really hear his fiercely gentle crooning, especially when he allowed his voice to dip to a low grumble during his emotion-wrought songs. Don’t take Bergman for your average singer-songwriter; every moment and movement is precisely planned and meticulously controlled.
Powerlifter has a history of bringing the ruckus to a party. The Wichita-based band has played to rooms packed with sweaty people and crowd surfers, and they’ve also played shows where less than ten people showed up. But no matter the size of the audience, Powerlifter always brings it.
The chiptune rockers use a wide range of machines, including gameboys, to provide the beats for their dance music. Singer Matthew Wiseman is unpredictable in his movements. One moment, he’s onstage fiddling with knobs, and the next he’s flying off and landing on the audience, wrapping various folks up in his microphone cable.
Maps for Travelers
While Maps for Travelers is a fairly new band (they’ve been around for less than two years), the musicians that make up the group have quite a track record. So it’s no surprise that their songs immediately grabbed our attention.
Maps for Travelers is everything you could ask for in a great local rock band. They’re screamy, headbang and never have a shortage of energy. I was particularly fond of the drummer and his spunk. His enthusiasm was infectious.
“For those of you who don’t know who we are, it’s our final show. So fuck off!”
This type of trash talk has always been expected at BaioWolf shows. The band has been throwing dirty lyrics, dancey beats and fart noises at us for six years, but they’ve decided to call it quits. On Friday, they went out in style and ended their reign of ridiculousness by playing at every venue associated with the Eleven Productions anniversary show.
One of the highlights of the night came when they joined JabberJosh onstage during their set at the Jackpot and belted out a very “ironic” cover of a Limp Bizkit song. Half the room went crazy for the cover, the other half squirmed in their seats a little.
Speaking of JabberJosh, I feel like the night finally started giving us that really good kick-in-the-pants rock when these guys took the stage. Comprised of brothers Sam and Will Gunnerson, JabberJosh had a pool of faithful fans gathered at the front of the stage who headbanged throughout their entire set. The two played so hard, it was almost painful to watch them ooze that rugged, gut-wrenching rock. We’re lucky to have a band whose members are so in tune with each other, yet still manage to pull off that very raw sound we crave so much.
After JabberJosh melted our faces off, we decided to spend some downtime with everybody’s favorite musical mistress, Suzannah Johannes.
When we made it down to the Taproom basement, we weren’t surprised to see a packed venue. But we were surprised to see half the room sitting on the floor (ewwww). Some of them had their legs crossed, others were leaning against their friends. We even saw a couple of folks sitting very peacefully with their eyes closed, taking in every ounce of Suzie’s music. It felt more like a summer camp kumbaya-sesh than a rock show. If you stayed there long enough, you couldn’t help but sway to her angelic voice as well.
We’ve been pretty vocal about how fond we are of Lawrence’s newest band. This was our third time seeing The Sluts, and their songs are so catchy and memorable that we’ve already picked our favorites.
Their fan base appears to be growing as well, and it was enjoyable watching their audience become more accustomed to yelling out “Sluts!” in between their songs.
Fans piled into the Granada to watch everybody’s favorite townie Matt Pryor. The Get Up Kids frontman was performing solo on Friday night in support of his upcoming album.
He touted his love for Lawrence and gave extra props to East Lawrence, where he resides with his family. He dedicated a love song to the area and was rewarded with thoughtful and grateful fans who shared his sentiment.
There was absolutely no rowdier crowd on Friday night than the one at Ricky Fitts. This was the first time the band had performed in about four years and fans went absolutely nuts. They moshed, crowd surfed and beat the heck out of each other. The casualties came in after the crowd dispersed searching for their lost jewelry, eyeglasses and probably a few broken teeth. There will definitely be some folks waking up tomorrow with scratches, bruises and maybe even a little bit of internal bleeding.
A memorable moment came precisely at 11:11 p.m., when the band toasted Eleven Productions. They congratulated Team Eleven on their longevity in Lawrence and threw back some shots in their honor.
Dry Bonnet is one of Lawrence’s newest garage rock bands. They’ve become a fan favorite in the scene, boasting noisy rock you can chant along to. Friday night was no exception, and they belted out several songs that had fans headbanging in unison.
Total Fucking Blood
Remember in high school when you used to watch those awesome shows on unknown music channels late at night in your parents’ basement, and occasionally you’d see the most obscure metal bands being featured? And it got you really excited? That same level of excitement and face-melting music made a comeback when we watched Total Fucking Blood.
If the name isn’t enough to intrigue you, consider the band’s vicious stage presence. Just a drummer and a bass player made up this dramatic duo, and the dirty metal is so rugged it feels like it’s stabbing you in the gut. The screaming will also put the fear of God in you.
But even amidst all the hair-raising rock, the lead singer took time to get serious and thank Eleven Productions for their work over the years. He noted that even while the company’s head honcho, Jacki Becker, was working enormous shows, she still took the time to make sure all the smaller and local bands were taken care of.
Eleven Productions is a force that puts local bands first, and for that we should be eternally grateful. Happy birthday, Team Eleven. Here’s to another ten years of turning it up to 11.