If you’ve ever thought the Replay felt like family, you’re right. Friday night’s show featured two sets of siblings rocking the venue to its very core for what ended up being a historic night in Lawrence.
Gnarly Davidson may only have two shows under their studded belts, but they’re already giving this town a raging rock boner. Fronted by *Mitch Jones, whose vocals make James Hetfield sound like a fourth grader in choir class, the band is known for long droney songs with impressive guitar work. The band likes to joke about their lengthy songs by saying “We’re Gnarly Davidson, and this is our last song,” at the beginning of each set. Like Radkey, the band made this evening a family affair. Normally Sam Gunnerson, of JabberJosh, slays on bass. But with Sam out of town, Mitch called upon the talents of his brother, an incredibly skilled bass player. Joined by Franklin Fantini (a familiar face about town and at Love Garden) on drums, the trio perfected a formula comprised of jovial antics and rock.
Speaking of fun (and replacement musicians), Stiff Middle Fingers continued their winning streak in the punk scene with their always lively performance. With drummer JP Redmon recently departed from the band, the band has been soldiering on with some other area musicians (the other half of JabberJosh, Will Gunnerson, recently filled in at Center of the City Fest in Kansas City). With an already overflowing crowd, singer Travis Arey worked extra hard to make himself physically present offstage, canoodling and throwing himself into any body within reach. A highlight of the night came when they called up Gnarly Davidson’s Mitch Jones to join them for a song. With two singers now onstage and grasping mics, they fawned over each other and intertwined their arms like newlyweds drinking from champaign glasses at a wedding, all while belting out lyrics with incredible force into the thick night air.
After soaring to popularity over the last year, which included lots of love from SPIN magazine and playing large festivals in Japan, you can bet Radkey’s fans lost it when they found out the band was returning to their roots at the Replay for a show. The audience staked spots for the historic show the very moment Stiff Middle Fingers wrapped up their set. So by the time Radkey was sound checking, the place was already at capacity. Fans didn’t just limit themselves to the floor. They scaled and climbed every bench and table available, all while filling the air with a wicked stench only associated with punk rock shows of this nature.
Radkey did not disappoint. The band of brothers just returned from recording brand new music in San Francisco, and some of those songs made their live debut in Lawrence. But when they dived into the more familiar songs, the audience swallowed them whole. Not only did they nearly descend upon the stage (and even form the tiniest of circle pits in the congested venue), but they even overpowered the band’s vocals. Radkey’s fans screamed every single lyric with perfect timing, eventually becoming just one big rhythmic chant.
The sweltering night ended with a mob that was full to the gills with joy. They all secretly knew that this is Radkey’s time to take off and rule the world, and that this would most likely be the last time they’d see them in the comfort of their own hometown (at least for a while, anyway). Rather than sending them off with heavy hearts, they bid the band farewell with a raucous-rousing and exhilarating response to their performance. In return, the band (as always) gave their all before immediately heading off to an East coast tour with a debut in France on the horizon.
Radkey doesn’t belong to any one specific label or overbearing management team. They very much call the shots with their own act. So it was flattering and completely heartwarming to know that even in the midst of their busiest time of year, and their lives, they made the conscious decision to put their exhaustion aside and return to their adopted home in Lawrence Fucking Kansas.
Words and photos by Fally Fucking Afani
*Disclaimer: Mitch Jones is a photographer for I Heart Local Music.