Friday, May 8, 2015

Life and Times, Roman Numerals, Riddle of Steel, and Traindodge Hi-Pointe, April 9, 2005

I can prattle on about the heyday of the Kansas City rock scene for days. Back in the day, the “Kansas City Sound” was a buzz phrase bantered about with visions of the Lawrence/KC scene becoming the next Seattle. That never happened, of course, but it did produced a slew of rock heavyweights in Season to Risk, Molly McGuire, Shiner, Rocket Fuel Is the Key, Giants Chair (Come home Rex Hobart. Come home.), Dirtnap, and Tenderloin. While the majority of these bands are long gone or have fallen into side-project status, many of their principal players are still around, and on this evening they came to play with Riddle of Steel (from the STL) and Traindodge (technically Oklahomans, but they’re on locally based label Ascetic Records, so that should qualify them for dual citizenship). And from the state’s left coast came the Roman Numerals (featuring former members of Season to Risk, Shiner, and Dirtnap) and Life and Times (featuring Shiner’s Allen Epley).

Following a fine set from Traindodge, the Roman Numerals took the stage, comprised of KC rock stalwarts Steve Tulipana (S2R), Shawn Sherilll (Shiner), Billy Smith (Dirtnap), and Pete LaPorte (Dirtnap). According to an interesting description on the band’s Web site, “This is the sound of the past informed by the future, as if Big Black had visited early-’80s era Gang of Four in a vision, or if the ghost of Fugazi had haunted Modern English.” If you need that whittled down to a quickie description: They’re good. Their sound makes the very fact that they also play in a Joy Division cover band seem very fitting. Hitting new songs and tracks off of their demo, Roman Numerals was fantastic.

I’ll be honest with you, when Allen Epley first unveiled Life and Times at the Rocket Bar a spot back, I didn’t like them. Epley seemed dead and uninspired. In hindsight, those feelings could’ve been due to my unrealistic expectations that they were going to live up to Shiner and their final LP, The Egg. But seeing them again, on this night, Life and Times were mighty good. No longer are they “The Band Allen Epley was in after Shiner,” but simply a band standing on its own merits. Maybe I should have had that mentality from the get-go, but let’s face it: I hate change.

What can be said about Riddle of Steel that hasn’t already been said? In what’s becoming something of a monotonous statement, ROS seem to get better and better with every show. Not to disparage any other bands, but there isn’t a single independent band in this city that busts their collective asses, or takes themselves more seriously, than Riddle of Steel. Their new LP Got This Feelin’ hits the streets June 21 on Ascetic Records.

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