The local music community sent off one of its favorite members in style on Wednesday. Drew Smith, a young teen wise beyond his years, is more than just a well-liked music blogger. In addition to running his own label, he’s been active in the music scene with a couple of music projects and is a regular face around SeedCo and the Whatever Forever collective. Alas, Young Drew (as he’s lovingly been nicknamed by some) is moving to Texas, but not without leaving a trail of rock first.

The sendoff show at the Jacfkpot was broken into two parts, an early and a late show (this post focuses on the bands in the first portion). The evening began with a mesmerizing set from Lawrence’s most enigmatic and leggy performer, CS Luxem. He was joined by some other familiar faces from the Whatever Forever family, including Oils’ Andrew Frederick and Mark Rockwell.

Afterwards, Lawrence rejoiced when meeting the latest local newcomers Destroy Nate Allen. Having just relocated from Portland to Kansas City, the goofy two-piece is an extraordinary joy to watch. Their gregarious music, featuring wise-cracking anecdotes on how to not burn your dinner and why you should eat your vegetables, is 100% interactive. Think of them as the couple version of Dan Deacon. The two never touched the stage, and pranced around the circle that had formed around them, constantly finding ways to get the audience involved in dancing and games that centered around their songs. This is a band best served live, and to miss their shows would be a great tragedy. Audiences should jump at the opportunity to see them, which (lucky for us) will happen a lot more often now that they live in the area.

Editor’s note: the video starts dark and gets lighter. Also, check out the adorable kiss at the end.

Merlin is Lawrence’s premiere wizard rock band. Think of what it’s like to play an original Nintendo game from the 1980’s where you might be playing a wizard on a quest. Now think of the type of music that might lurk in that game. That’s what Merlin sounds like, but paired with some wicked sweet guitar riffs and a fog machine. We remember listening to some of their earlier work about a year ago, and can tell they’ve really stepped up their game. The live show is a real treat, and has been growing in popularity in the Lawrence underground scene.

The early portion of the night ended with a set from the guest of honor when Smith’s band, Bad Kids To The Front, brought their heavy dose of psych rock to the stage. Smith’s talents have grown since the days of Theo’s Mystic Robot Orchestra, and are only complemented by the likes of Evan Herd, Andrew Wacker and (once again) Mark Rockwell. The band has been plugging away at SeedCo, and you’ll have a couple of more chances to see them in all their costumed, psychedelic glory before the Summer is over and Smith skips town (including a Love Garden album release show on the 28th).

The night wasn’t just a bittersweet farewell to someone the music community has so lovingly accepted with open arms, it was also a glimpse into our future. There were some new acts, as well as young musicians who are new on the scene, giving it their all, and a lot of these rockers got their start at SeedCo and Whatever Forever. These kids are in good hands and on the right path to local music and what it means to bond with your audience at a live show. Not to toot Lawrence’s own horn, but it appears we’re pretty good at making future rockers. I think, for now, we’ll be alright.

Words and photos by Fally Afani



Fally Afani is an award-winning journalist with a career spanning more than 20 years in media. She has worked extensively in radio, television, newspapers, magazines, and more.

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