O Giant Man
The night began with a powerful set from O Giant Man, a band made up of gregarious and energetic indie rockers. Their music was fairly upbeat, and their driving drums brought even the most heat-stroked people to a little jig. The music was just so darn catchy, and I often found myself whistling or humming their songs long after they finished.
The Drowning Men
The Drowning Men continued the night of upbeat tunes by accelerating that tempo and playing one fierce song after another. I loved their powerful vocals, and was pretty fond of how they integrated the organ into their songs. That’s probably one thing they bring to the table that other loud indie rockers don’t. The Drowning Men is a versatile band of many talents (and many beards), and at one point they doubled up on keys, having the keyboard player and organ player squaring off against each other.
River City Extension
River City Extension didn’t just put on one of the best shows of the year, they also formed a strong bond with their fans. They spent much of their time before the show chatting it up with folks on the patio, so by the time they took the stage their fans were super pumped and ready to rock.
You wouldn’t have guessed that this was a group of people who nearly had their energy drained from the heat. They commanded the stage with ferocity, all while grinning from ear to ear. Their hair flailed wildly while the many members of the band crowded around on stage. There are so many people in that band, it’s a wonder some of them didn’t bang their heads together when they were playing. The multi-instrumentalists put on one hell of a show, with antics generally reserved for large crowds and festivals. But here they were, pulling out all stops for a very small Jackpot crowd.
But the band isn’t all showy. The slower songs were wrought with tense and emotional lyrics. The lead singer’s powerful voice just tugged at everyone’s heart strings. It was quite impressive how so much power could come out of such soft spoken vocals.
The best part of the night happened when technical problems arose. The band said they had two more songs left, but that they would finish them acoustically. They took the party outside and played in front of the venue right on the sidewalk. The audience formed a large circle around them, clapping and cheering the entire time. At one point one of the lovely ladies in the band leapt over the patio and into a fan’s arms. He twirled her around before putting her down. This was an all-out River City Extension love fest.
“Let’s go for a walk!” yelled the lead singer, and off we went. The audience then followed the band in a musical march. The percussionists in the band dragged along their drums, every now and then stopping to bang on them a little harder. Half of the band abandoned their instruments and gave into skipping around and weaving in and out of the marching audience members. You would hear different vocal harmonies weave in and out of your ears as well, it was coming from all sides! It was truly thrilling. They made it to Aimee’s Coffee House before ending it in a wild finish. It wasn’t just thrilling for we the people, this was an exciting moment for the band as well. One of them yelled out “I need a cigarette!” before heading back to the venue.
You have to give mad respect to a band that pulls out all the stops like that. This was a Sunday evening show where attendance was poor and the heat was unbearable, yet they treated it like they were playing Bonnaroo. We’ll be lucky if we see this band come back to Lawrence. But if they do, now you know better than to skip a River City Extension experience.