by Nathan Cardiff

I feel like I’ve been swooning over the Whatever Forever line-up non-stop for the past few months. I’m sure people are sick of me talking about how much I am hooked on two of the artists in particular; Oils and Y(our) Fri(end). On the last day of Middle of the Map, I started the beautiful afternoon inside the Record Bar. With the curtains drawn back, it seemed mighty bleak, but the sunshine could wait. I was there to catch the I Heart Local Music Showcase, featuring some of Lawrence’s best.

Oils performed as a three-piece, featuring Taryn Blake Miller (of Y[our] Fri[end]) on bass guitar. The set was rapid and relaxed, a confusing description, but it fits with Oils. They seem to capture any oxymorons and shred them to pieces. They can be absurd and straightforward, lo-fi and massive, funny and dramatic. I was stoked to see so many familiar faces at the venue, but what really got me smiling were the strangers I saw, quietly bobbing their heads to Oils’ set. Andrew wailed and howled on the microphone (along with his sporadic dancing) and Mark’s drums kept the band racing, as the guitars experimented. I was especially excited to sing-a-long with the recently released single, “Duck.” The band was greeted with much deserved applause as their brief set came to a close.

Taryn began setting up immediately afterwards for her set with Nicholas Stahl. I’ve seen many live versions of Y(our) Fri(end), whether as a solo endeavor or a full band, and Saturday was a truly awesome performance. Even with a short set time, the two-piece gave the songs the attention and pace they wanted. Stahl’s drumming was both subtle and powerful, much like Miller’s voice.

The Record Bar stage suited them well. They made a tremendous amount of noise and Taryn’s heartbreaking lyrics were a crushing way to start the day. The audience was ecstatic in the midst of a stellar set (featuring a guest appearance from Katlyn Conroy), but swayed quietly as the band built to a thunderous crescendo. Did I mention that Y(our) Fri(end)’s debut record is one of my most anticipated of the year? I can’t wait!

In the first half of a great showcase (hosted by this very website), Whatever Forever had a great representation of how excellent the label is. On a weekend as big as Middle of the Map, they made sure that the crowd took notice.

by Nathan Cardiff

Editor’s note: The Capsules, a former Lawrence band, made the trek all the way from Texas for the showcase (read more about their set here). They left a stunning impression on the crowd and even indulged one fan’s request to play a song from their days as “Shallow.” The Sluts rounded out the night with an aggressive set. You can expect great things from the two-piece this year, including an album and loads of additional new songs. Scroll past the photo gallery for videos.

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