It wouldn’t be Spring Into Summer if some bizarre weather event didn’t happen.
The annual day-long festival, hosted by the Replay, features bands from both Lawrence and Kansas City and almost always falls victim to a storm or heavy rain. With the exception of the cotton that was floating about in the air (and landing in everybody’s drinks), this year’s Spring Into Summer felt more like Spring Into Winter. The temperatures dropped fairly low, prompting scenesters to reach for their nearest ironic sweater or Love Garden hoodie.
Unlike years past, this weekend’s festival managed to keep the entire first half outdoors with bands like CS Luxem, the easy going twangy Plains, the ever-dapper doo-woppers Dean Monkey and the Dropouts, and Toughies— who gave nods to their members’ previous bands (Haunt Anaunta and Panda Circus). “It’s all about local music tonight!” their frontman exclaimed while making gaga eyes at the other acts on the bill before referring to Dean Monkey and the Dropouts as “the prettiest band in Lawrence. He was right. Local was the name of the game.
The party really got started when Approach kicked off the indoor portion of the set. He brought along MilkDrop, his partner in crime for their other gig, Lincoln Marshall. They debuted a brand new Lincoln Marshall song off the upcoming album, Water, but also played plenty of Approach fan favorites. We can’t decide which part of Approach’s sets are our favorites— the freestyles with heavy local nods, his guest stars (MilkDrop), or DJ G Train’s wicked scratch skills. “The beauty of this black man up here is he’s from the days of actual DJs!” he proclaimed before heading out back to pull double duty as the DJ of the night on the patio.
Shortsweather, a band out of Kansas City, followed and touted their emerging act. The band has just six shows under their belt, with three of those shows being played in Lawrence this week. We have high hopes for this band. They’re reminiscent of the early days of bands from the Pizza Power (now Whatever Forever) era. They sound like where college rock meets new wave, and they go dancing. It’s hard not to wiggle your hips to some of their numbers.
Spirit is the Spirit, a Spring into Summer favorite, went full majestic with new music packed with so many layers of sound, there’s no way you’ll ever tire of their songs. Their tunes, particularly the reverb-rich vocals and harmonies, are so lovely you’ll want to try and sing along, even though you don’t know the words.
The Conquerors closed out the night with a fantastic flair for all things retro. They have an infectious energy, thanks to a sound that’s been developing from strictly psych rock to a transitioning 60’s pop vibe. If there’s ever a time to sport a bouffant and go dancing, this is it. The band rolled hard with two lively percussionists and a frontman that broke so many strings on his 12-string guitar, it eventually turned into a six-string by accident. The Conquerors have new music coming out, and 2016 will likely become a banner year for them.
Words and photos by Fally Afani.