The Redwalls – The Record Bar, Kansas City, Mo

Upon showing up at the Record Bar, the site of February 15th’s performance by the Chicago-based four piece The Redwalls, I am informed that the list which serves as my golden ticket to visit the venue has gone missing. Being a man of action, I run a list of solutions through my mind that would make MacGyver himself proud. Sadly, I am fresh out of baseball cards, chewing gum and string in which to make a bomb with, so I’m forced to settle on plan B: I buy the door guy a beer. Huzzah! I’m in with enough time before the opening band’s set to wonder if Lester Bangs ever had days like this.

Following Abracadabra, a local band who had obviously seen Hedwig and the Angry Inch one (or a few) too many times, The Redwalls took the stage at 7:42PM for a show scheduled to begin at 8. Now, as a journalist obsessed with distributing credit where credit is due, I start this show impressed that, if nothing else, the Redwalls will earn a gold star for punctuality. Kudos for that.

Rest assured however, by the end of the night, these boys papers will be filled with stars. The impression they made me would not end at their estimated time of arrival.

Opening their sixteen song set with “Falling Down,” a cut featuring a mix of harmony vocals, half sung and half yelled, the band set forward with the immediate message that they were not fucking around. Like musical middle fingers in the air, their floor tom based rhythm-pushes the set towards a pissed off, no bullshit style of song writing often utilized by Elvis Costello and other “punk without being punk” bands. They thrust a crowd of aging hipsters into a state of music that seems to transform the Record Bar in Kansas City into Max’s Kansas City, and the infamous New York punk scene. Yet, at the same time, they manage to balance the sounds of New York’s historic punk scene with the momentum of it’s current scene, highlighting a bass sound that The Strokes and Hot Hot Heat often hide behind. As much as I hate The Strokes, I must confess that I quite like this sound from this band on this night, as it shows up again and again in “Put Us Down,” “Love Her” and “Modern Diet.”

The set itself remained as diverse as the band’s members, switching from New York punk/casio rock to the London wail of Radiohead and Violent Femmes to Jamaican Reggae and classic Bob Seger rock! Each song altered from the signature sound of the cut that came before. And at sixteen tracks for ten dollars, The Redwalls live show kicks the shit out of the cost of iTunes. And, unlike most CD’s I’ve purchased, their set featured no “filler” tracks.

A great show!

Setlist: Falling Down, Put us Down, Holiday, Don’t You Wanna, Memories, Game of Love, On My Way, Each and Every Night, Back Together, Love Her, They Are Among Us, Edge of the Night, Build a Bridge, Modern Diet, In the Time of the Machine, Front Page

The Redwalls website | myspace

*photo by: Nick Davis

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