by Nicholas Stahl
For a while there was a disconnect between Lawrence and Kansas City. Bands remaining in their respective towns provide no avenue for inter-scene interaction. It is really nice to see more and more KC bands playing in Lawrence, as of recent. Equally as awesome, they are bringing Kansas City music fans to Lawrence.
For a while, it seemed near impossible for Kansas City kids to come to Lawrence and support bands from their area. This goes the same for Lawrence bands traveling to KC. Without the support of your fan base in a neighboring town, it is hard for bands to break into a new city. It is rather discouraging to go from packed venues in your hometown and then travel just thirty minutes to not pull more than a couple of straggling fans.
Even with the show starting as early as 10:00 p.m., the Jackpot began to swell with people both young and old. Friends, family, and fans filled the bar to show their support for all three bands playing. With two other hardcore bands in the lineup, The Atlantic provided the perfect half hour to ease the crowd into the heavy conclusion of the evening.
As the band started, people were scattered throughout the Jackpot. From the bar to the back booths, attention shifted towards the stage as the first song filled each ear inside the venue. After the music had invaded everyone’s head, the visual stimulation engaged those heads that had been turned.
The young men who make up The Atlantic look like Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn type characters, if Mark Twain listened to rock and roll. Fresh off their makeshift raft, the barefoot, tattooed and long haired musicians could have floated down the Mississippi serenading the crowd with songs they wrote of their travels. Their “don’t give a fuck, we love the music we play” attitude mixed with boyish charm makes this young band extremely dynamic.
Performance-wise, the Atlantic can switch gears quicker than a music critic… but in the best way possible. One moment heads are bobbing on stage and throughout the crowd, then a bellowing scream from the lead vocalist queues an eruption of distortion and uncontrollable movement of nearly every body in the vicinity. Precise and unexpected stops of the percussion leave a wake of aftershock. Those dancing immediately stop their gyration, still yearning for some sort of release. The physical and emotional tension builds until the full band breaks back into an outpour of sound that returns the crowd to its most anticipated state, losing their minds.
On top of an incredible performance, the lights and scenery of the Jackpot only catered to the emotion of the evening. The red velvet back drop and intense lighting created the would-be creepy visual lovechild of David Lynch and Tim Burton. Sweaty musicians and blown out red lights are reminiscent of the nightmare sequences in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. Whimsical, yet nearly frightening, the energy that emanated from the stage captured the imagination of the crowd. Transported into a state of limbo, the audience escaped the mundane nature of uninspired daily life. Seeing a band pour so much heart and soul into a performance can completely change a bystander’s mood.
In facial expression alone, The Atlantic proves to be a viable source of hope. Taking multiple influences and tossing them into a melting pot of wide-eyed musicians usually results in a unique expression of emotive and explosive sounds. Without any regards, The Atlantic calls em’ like they see’s em’. Honest and aware, The Atlantic is a Midwestern adaptation of the Seattle grunge movement in the 1990s. Blending the twang and modest nature of bands like Murder by Death with the intense emotion and raspy vocals of Thrice, The Atlantic produces a sound that could only emanate from the middle of the States.
After The Atlantic finished their set, the audience caught their breath, glanced at their neighbors and smiled. Everyone migrated to their in-between set perches. The Atlantic had done their job as the opening band perfectly. Granted, they aren’t a hardcore band, they provided an incredible array of sounds that prepared everyone for the brutal auditory assault that was about to ensue. All a touring band can ask from their local support is that they bring some open minded fans out and then put them in the right mindset to experience the other bands sets. Hopefully, The Atlantic’s set on Friday will prove worthy of repeat viewers in Lawrence.
There are countless bands with cross-scene potential, but it is sometimes difficult to achieve a great turnout. Bands have the power to book with other great musicians who live in other towns. Just like the explorers who documented the land we live on, branching out to unfamiliar things is the only way bands are going to break into new uncharted areas. It does not matter if your music sounds the same, or even similar, as long as the passion is present. Explorers are usually considered the enemy, but there are the select few who have the best intentions when discovering new territory. With a certain sensibility, exploration can prove to be the difference that produces friendships, progression and great music scenes.
by Nicholas Stahl