A trio of diverse Lawrence bands got the Replay worked into a frenzy Friday night, when three very different genres meshed together for a fairly wild evening that drew a large crowd to the venue. Normally when the weekend kicks off, folks head to the dance floor outside to party with the DJ. This was still true, but a larger-than-usual crowd also gathered to take in psych rock, easy pop, and nostalgic alternative sounds.
The night began with a band that is constantly gathering new fans by the minute. SONA is known for their shoegazey, alternative style. It’s a timeless sound that they’ve perfected over the last few years. With a new album on the way, they debuted new music and even dabbled with more vocals and harmonies. The performers (who never EVER falter, mind you) are even growing more adventurous onstage. Guitarist Brian Goodman is known for thrusting his body over his guitar, bending and winding during his hypnotic and reverb-rich solos. But now even the bassist has built up a presence that demands your attention. She had us at her throbbing bass lines, but her vocals are now getting more fans to take notice. This is one of the last good shoegaze bands in the area, and what fans are left with is nothing short of heavenly alternative bliss.
It’s hard not to think of Toughies as an adorable box of kittens. The relatively new band full of young musicians tend to make eyes at each other and smile or giggle when their mouths aren’t busy at the mic. But they finally began to shake that image on Friday night thanks to how quickly and professionally their songs are developing. Up until now, the months-old Lawrence group was known for breezy and gentle numbers with little riffs that happily make themselves at home in your memory. But the songs have taken a turn, exploring into other genres. Now, they can be poppy, bluesy, or even romantic… but they’re always in style.
Frontman Carl Smith’s voice is nothing to scoff at either. It’s a powerful force no one really expects until it hits them in the middle of a song. He uses it sparingly, almost like a tease just to keep you coming back.
No Cave topped off the night with a memorable performance and full on psychedelic freakout. The band says this was their final show of the year so they could take time off to diligently work on writing new songs. The zealous crowd was more than happy to indulge in Ross Williams’ signature wails while his tall frame bounced all over the stage. No Cave’s eccentric fans were just as limber, and kept the lively momentum high on the dance floor until the very end.
Words and photos by Fally Afani