The Lawrence label boasting musicians that like to get weird lived up to its reputation on Friday. Whatever Forever held a mini festival of sorts at the Replay; and to quote Grace in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” everyone from the sportos to the geeks, sluts, wastoids, dweebs and dickheads were in fine form. There were plenty of WTF moments (looking at you, Agent X-12), but the event mostly just showed how musicians from various backgrounds celebrated unity in their scene.
To everyone’s delight, the evening portion of the evening was held inside, allowing revelers to bask in the Replay’s air conditioning. Invisible Public Library started the night off with their delightfully authentic indie sound. Some of their songs have become so upbeat that folks ended up cutting a rug for most of their set. This band is full of acoustic fun you can actually boogie to.
For the older generation of music fans, Danny Pound teamed up with Major Games’ Doug McKinney for a fairly experimental set. Pound planted himself firmly on the floor of the stage, legs crossed with his guitar resting on his knees. The man’s previous album was a little more on the experimental side, so it was no surprise to see him indulge in psychedelic noises while his partner in crime twisted knobs and produced all manners of clicks and loops.
The Ovaries-eez are easily a fan favorite, and the three gals were quick to set up for their stripped-down set. Armed with nothing more than a kick drum and an electric guitar, the sirens harmonized and captivated their audience. This is a rock venue, yet you could hear a pin drop because that’s the kind of effect the Ovaries-eez have on people.
The night proved to be a special occasion thanks to the eccentric return of Agent X-12. The musician, whose identity has been and will always remain a secret, was known for donning a robot mask of his own creation and wailing away on a unique guitar (also of his own creation) prior to his break. But on this night, he returned as a three-person act more terrifying than ever.
None of their identities were revealed, and every mask was unique. The drummer’s had eyes that lit up much like Iron Giant’s, while an evil wizard donned a silver shield across his eyes, exposing his green face paint. This fella was the most peculiar of the three, sporting a light up staff that he repeatedly slammed into the stage (or held high above his head). The terrifying wizard wailed into a heavily-altered mic and shocked the audience with his larger-than-life supernatural presence.
Agent X-12’s act is something we can only describe as “Experi-Metal.” There was plenty of guitar wailing, but the three also transported you to another ludicrous dimension. We had to pinch ourselves to make sure this was real, and on the inside we secretly prayed for the space punks in Arc Flash to show up and do battle.
While they didn’t go head-to-head with Arc Flash, the band did follow X-12’s set with a slightly altered act. The three of them were now two, and gone were the costumes (most likely because of the ghastly heat advisory).
The boys did not disappoint, setting up a rager on the floor. An impressively large crowd, considering the “early” start time by Replay standards, formed around the duo and shimmied, swayed, and shuffled the night away. Arc Flash have played so steadily in Lawrence recently that one of their songs (below) has pretty much become the song of the summer. If you enjoy live music in Lawrence, chances are this song has ben your jam at one point or another over the last couple of months.
True to tradition and form, Dean Monkey and the Dropouts followed clad in coordinated costumes. Despite the intensifying heat, their impressively detailed skull makeup remained intact. Some even had sequins pasted to their faces!
It’s been interesting watching the harmonizing doo-woppers perform new music since debuting it last Spring. You can tell they’ve been intently practicing because songs that were a little shaky in March were absolutely perfect on Friday. They nailed every note, their pacing was on point, and their ever-developing sound is successfully retaining old fans and gaining new ones.
The Fog, a Kansas City band, rarely makes appearances in these parts. So their fans, friends, and collaborators were more than thrilled to see them at the festival.
The first time we saw The Fog, the most noticeable trait was how fast they played. Now, they’ve somehow gotten even faster.
Baby Birds Don’t Drink Milk rounded out the night with a large fan base crowding around the stage. The band used to hail from the area, so this was a bit of a homecoming for them. This show fell towards the end of their tour, and they brought their fuzzy, production heavy sounds to a scene that helped launched their career.
Words and photos by Fally Afani