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Show recap: Apocalypse Meow 6

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Show recap: Apocalypse Meow 6

On any given night in KC or Lawrence, there are bands playing to groups of varying sizes and intensity levels. Some of the audience is on its feet dancing. Some of them have their noses stuck in their electronic habitats. People order a few drinks at the bar during a quiet song, maybe smoke a cigarette between songs. The Friday night kick-off party of Apocalypse Meow 6 was one of those rare nights when the audience unified to experience and be captivated by the music.
 
This is the first Apocalypse Meow show since the death of Abigail Henderson, who—along with friends and husband Chris Meck—founded Midwest Music Foundation after friends held a benefit for Henderson when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. On Friday, Meck debuted his trio The Guilty Birds (pictured above), the first project without his wife since they began 10 years ago in Trouble Junction, and his very first project as primary singer/songwriter.
 
 
The trio (including Tiny Horse members Zach Phillips and Matt Richey) played a short but poignant rock/soul-infused set, while a packed crowd locked eyes and ears to draw in each note; to admire the musicianship, the ability, the fire, the obstacles and the affirming end result; to feel the anguish of a noticeable absence, but to honor and celebrate its legacy. The Silver Maggies kept the audience at attention with dark Americana propelled by intelligent songwriting. Hundreds of raffle tickets for Meck’s custom-built (with assistance from Phillips, Chris Wagner, and Paul Marchman) Fender Telecaster were purchased on Friday alone, and that spirit of generosity graciously carried into Saturday evening.

 
 
With a larger-capacity venue at Knuckleheads, eleven bands/solo performers commandeered the indoor and outdoor stages on night two. She’s A Keeper began by grabbing and enveloping the filtering-in crowd with its brand of colossal folk rock. The entrancing, aggressive outlaw blues of the duo Freight Train & Rabbit Killer (pictured below) demanded attention with its minimalistic setup, menacing costumes, and otherworldly presence. Meanwhile, the acoustic stage was occupied by a few KC music legends, all of whom were dear friends of Henderson’s. This connection translated into each musician’s cathartic sound, beginning with heartstring-pulling stories from Tony Ladesich (pictured below). Betse Ellis followed (and guest starred with the other acoustic stage performers later) with a fierce fiddle that could have sliced through any act on the main stage.
 
 
 
As the evening grew colder, warm bodies migrated toward the front and moved their hips to power trio Not A Planet (pictured below), pushed by the dynamic rhythm section of Liam Sumnicht and Bill Surges and steered by Nathan Corsi’s steady, pitch-perfect vocals. And no matter which stage you chose or floated to and from, each remaining act performed with no shortage of moxie. Howard Iceberg—KC’s answer to Bob Dylan—played a quiet but potent, storied set that included a duet performance with Michelle Sanders, a dulcet complement to Iceberg’s earnestly gruff voice. Federation of Horsepower frontman Gregg Todt (pictured below with Ellis) traded in his distorted axe for to round out the acoustic stage with a bluesy soul tone.
 
 
 
The second half of main stage featured three acts with female powerhouses at the forefront. The Latenight Callers’ Julie Berndsen allured the crowd with a coy sensuality that developed into a fiery, lascivious character, enhanced by the band’s electrifying, mammoth noir sounds. The Philistines continued in that same vein of ferocity from Kimberely Queen, whose appropriately unbridled theatrics amplified the band’s barbaric psychedelic rock sounds. The musical climax came when Sister Mary Rotten Crotch (pictured below) was welcomed to the stage right after Meck’s guitar was raffled off and subsequently auctioned (Artie Scholes, the raffle winner and also owner of The 403 Club, gave the guitar back to MMF for this purpose) to the highest bidder. But outside of this positive gesture and outside of the fact that many fans had been waiting for Sister Mary to take the stage again (the band’s last performance before taking a five-year hiatus was Apocalypse Meow 1 in ’08, and they only recently reunited to play a couple weeks before), frontwoman Liz Spillman Nord injected the hungry audience with an acrimonious punk vitriol. The veteran band showed old and new fans alike that they still pack a mean, purposeful rock punch and they still don’t give a fuck what you think.
 
 
Midwest Music Foundation and Abby's Fund for Musicians' Health Care made $12,000 at Apocalypse Meow this year, thanks to the efforts of all that were in attendance or made a donation of time, money, and/or resources. And though it was impossible for each moment of Meow weekend to have been as uninterrupted and uplifting as its inaugural set was, a sense of community was felt by each attendee and volunteer/staff member, each auction bid, each raffle ticket that fell into each bucket, each embrace or tear shed, each note or beat played.
 
On behalf of Midwest Music Foundation and The Deli Magazine—Kansas City, we thank you for your support of local music and those who work to make it happen. We thank you for honoring Abigail and helping us continue to carry on her legacy.
 
--Michelle Bacon
 
Michelle is editor of The Deli Magazine - Kansas City, and also plays drums Drew Black & Dirty Electric and bass in Dolls on Fire and The Philistines. Thanks to everyone who made this weekend beautiful. #shinealight

 

 

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