Transforming Kansas City’s 150 year old City Market, into a downtown amphitheater is not always as good of an idea as one would assume. In the past, these events have run into problems: several bands simply didn’t have the pull to sell tickets. Other events, such as Ben Folds and Rufus Wainwright saw struggling numbers due to rain the night of the show. This night however, could not have been a better night to open the “2008 Buzz Under the Stars Concert Series.” And, as a reward Kansas City came out in droves.
The evening’s first band, The Morning Benders found its way to Kansas City by way of the Kooks‘ current national tour, serving as the latter’s support. Nonetheless, they couldn’t have fit into the show’s lineup more flawlessly. Their performance, driven by the flow of dark yet dance pop songs, like “Waiting on a War,” set the tone for what would be an energy fueled event. With a sound as infectious and catchy as The Shins and the ability to grab exposure from such great tour mates, I look for big things to happen to this band. The Kansas City crowd of almost 20,000 who seemed glue to the group’s set seemed to agree. They cheered and supported this band in a manner that would almost seem as if they had come to see only them. That was honestly really nice to see.
Following The Morning Benders, we found The Kooks, fresh off the release of their major label release, Konk. We also found our evening’s most energetic act. Vocalist Luke Pritchard‘s interactions with the crowd, ranging anywhere from intense eye contact all the way to hopping on the amps, were second to none. But, not to be pegged as all show and no sound, The Kooks orchestration was tight. Their set, which was a perfect mix of older tunes and new, was constructed and presented in a concise and efficient manner, supplying Kansas City with a showcase of why The Kooks are quickly climbing to the top of the indie scene’s biggest cult bands. This band does not disappoint. If you haven’t already, you certainly need to check them out.
It is my opinion that Rogue Wave, the lineup’s third performer, had the weakest set of the evening, but that might not be their fault. Based on the extreme showmanship of the bands they were following, and the acoustic setting in which they were playing, I feel that this show was not a great fit for them. I honestly think Rogue Wave would be an amazing band to see in a more intimate setting, like an indoor music theater, something that would enhance their somewhat detailed and atmospheric sound. While I was not impressed with their City Market performance, I really do look forward to catching this band again in a different venue. I’m sure they won’t let me down.
Death Cab for Cutie, the evening’s headlining act, certainly made an effort to not let anyone down. Their set included as many old favorites, like “The Facts Are In and We’re Voting Yes” and “Styrofoam Plates” as well as new radio tracks from Plans and Narrow Stairs. Ben Gibbard‘s uncanny ability to create an environment of happiness and enjoyment through detailed and documented songs of sadness and disappointment is almost amusing. It’s as though the catchy nature of the group’s music overshadows the depressing content of their lyrics. Nonetheless, the set was beautiful and catching, capturing the attention of an audience and generating a unified buzz throughout the Market. Few left following the short intermission, waiting for what would become a fairly long and impressive encore. I was very pleased with the selection of the set and came away from the City Market happy with Death Cab for Cutie’s attention to both its old fans and new.
Overall, I must confess that the night was a success.
The Morning Benders: website | myspace
The Kooks: website | myspace | KONK review
Rogue Wave: website | myspace |
Death Cab for Cutie: website | myspace | Narrow Stairs review
*Photos by Nick Davis and Joshua Hammond