Monday, October 11, 2010

Travel Story - Lawrence, Kansas - Envy, Trash Talk, Touche Amore, And So I Watch You From Afar

Two months ago I noticed that Envy from Japan were doing another US tour, but instead of playing show with post rock metal bands, this tour was booked with a more youthful crowd in mind by having the popular Touche Amore and Trash Talk play main support for the tour. I have seen Envy once before on their first time through the country back when I was living in St. Paul, and the show was quite impressive. Since then I have been living back in Omaha, I have made a few friends that share a love for Envy similar to mine and decided to make a road trip to one of closest shows from Omaha. We had two choices for shows... one being in Minneapolis in the same venue I saw them before, or a much shorter drive down to Lawrence, Kansas the following day. I originally wanted to drive out to Minnesota to see the show and hang out with some old friends, but the longer drive compared to Lawrence didn't seem very appealing considering time and gas costs. I managed to get a couple of my co-workers and fellow Envy fans to make a trek down to Kansas to see the show. My two co workers also asked two of their close friends to come along for the show as well. With five in tow, the plan was to drive down early in the morning in a big ass Chevy Suburban, and possibly stay the night in a motel room once we got into town. Once the day of the show came around, we decided we didn't want to spend the extra money getting a hotel room and instead, just drive back to Omaha soon after the show ended. I also opted to drive due to the fact that I have a much more fuel efficient car and will save us even more money on the trip. The initial plan was to leave at about 9am to get into Lawrence at an early enough hour to explore the city. I have only been down to Lawrence once before (to see a show), and that was 7 years ago, so I felt it would have been a fun experience to spend more time in an unfamiliar place instead of Minneapolis. We all met up at my apartment, and left a few hours later than planed, but it wasn't a big deal considering that the show didn't start until 9pm. The drive down to Lawrence went pretty good for me with having to deal with only Sunday traffic, and it was a clear day. The three guys crammed into the back seat of my tiny '04 Aveo, were not so fortunate. The drive down went without a hitch and we ended up getting into town at about 3ish in the afternoon. I've never been down Massachusetts St. (where the venue was), in Lawrence before and is pretty much the trendy/progressive strip of this small college town with it's hip fashion outlets, and it's gourmet tea shops. It's not a bad little street really, it reminded me of the "Old Market" area of Omaha. Anyway, we got some food the moment I found a parking spot and scarfed down some Chipotle. I've had Chipotle maybe a hundred times before, and this was by far the largest veggie burrito I have ever eaten from the chain. After that, we marched down the street looking to find the bar venue the show was at so we knew where to go once doors opened. So here we were, in Lawrence, Kansas, four hours early for a show, and only a six block area to wander around in until then. We made the best of the situation and decided to find a record store that had a good reputation as being really nice. I don't remember then name of the place but we found in a couple minutes and went to check out what they had. The place the record store had was quite large with mostly new vinyl releases, a good section of used wax, and a tiny ass new and used CD section (CD's are dead, bro). I myself usually don't buy new vinyl much from stores because a lot of time the mark up is a bit too high for me. Anyways, I just thumbed through all the "recent arrivals" of the used vinyl section. The recent arrival bin is pretty much the only place to look for used vinyl if you want the "good stuff" before it's all picked over. Right up front was a German pressing of the Agnostic Front "Last Warning" record. It's a live record of Ag Front's "last show" back in '92, and it was sale for a whopping $25, ha, fuck that. Like I said it wasn't even a US In-Effect pressing, but one of those colored vinyl Kingfisher jobs, that i think come out YEARS after the original pressings. I could be wrong on that comment, but no way in hell this record is worth $25. So i scoured the place looking for some good used punk or hardcore vinyl, and it's official... no one in Lawrence cares about punk or hardcore. My proof... no punk or hardcore records anywhere in a record store that has a really good reputation as being a great place. I'll be a nice guy though and say this... if you love modern/indie rock, and have some bucks burning in your pocket this is the record store for you. After milling about in the store and some people in my party buying some records we trekked down good 'ol Massachusetts street once again looking for something that might be of interest of us. We stopped into a pretty cool used book store that was really clean, and had a lot of book on the shelves. Everyone in the group are avid readers, so we spent a good hour and half scouring the shelves looking for something that might be interesting. I just bought four books here in Omaha, so I just kinda looked around and made fun of some of the sci-fi and mystery titles on the shelves. No one ended up buying anything for that matter, but it didn't matter because it burned up some of the waiting time for the show. We still had two hours or so to burn and it was getting dark and cooler outside, so we decided to go to some crazy ass oriental tee spot and get caffeinated and sit around and shoot the shit in a quiet place for the remaining time to wait. This was a good opportunity to get to know everyone a little bit better and the conversation was really fun and made time go by really fast. It was getting close to 8pm so we decided to walk down to the venue and wait for the doors to open.

Show Review - Envy, Trash Talk, Touche Amore, And So I Watch You From Afar - 10/10/10 @ Jackpot Music Hall

We all got back to venue just as the lines were starting to build up. The people who got their as early as we did were other people who traveled to the show. It seemed to be mostly people from smaller Kansas and various cities in Oklahoma. Everyone was a bit younger than me but didn't appear to be too much younger, maybe 8 years or so. After about a 10 minute wait we were allowed into the venue. The place was old and dusty, very narrow, and had booths or tabled molded into one side of the dance floor in front of the small stage. I'm sure these mini booths are great for regular bar shows, but I couldn't help to think that they were going to get ripped out of the floor during a hardcore show. The stage itself was in the back and small, maybe only 2 and a half feet tall and the ceiling was very low. The place had full sound with monitors and all that as well. I didn't notice at first but there were speakers hanging from the low ceiling on both ends of the stage that hung down quite low. Normally for a hardcore show, this would be very annoying, but it was a blessing for me knowing that I can shoot photos from the side of the stage and not have to deal with stage divers and crowd killers during mosh parts. After getting my camera all ready, I camped right up front at stage left and didn't leave my spot the entire night. Scanning around the audience that was up front with me, I felt like I was 20 years older than everyone. I don't know if they were edge kids, but they had the minor "X" on their hand. It's all good though, hardcore in a youth movement, right? I met some guy who I forget his name, but he traveled up from some small town in Kansas to see Trash Talk. It was funny to hear that he knew of a couple Lincoln, NE hardcore bands (if you ever read this post, get in touch). We chit chat for a few minutes and eventually the show started. The first band that played had one of those long, overtly-artsy long names so I was expecting crap. They were were from Ireland and I couldn't think of a good reason why they were touring with Envy. Anyway, they played math-rock type stuff with noodley back and fourth guitar stuff. Were they well rehearsed... sure. The the crowd like it... seemed like it. Do I ever want to listen or see them again... not really. The second band playing was Touche Amore. They have played Lincoln at least once. Touche Amore plays an updated version of the tried and true screamo genre with epic MLIW elements. They drew really well in Lincoln so I figured that a lot of the young kids up front were loyal fans for them. Boy was I right. I honestly think Touche Amore had the best crowd response with a lot of people packing up front for the sing-a-longs, and even a couple stage dives. It was a lot of fun to photograph their set, and they played well. Trash Talk soon followed. Trash Talk is one of the more popular bands in hardcore at the moment, playing fast hardcore that is pretty heavy with the tuning, and a few chunky blasts here and there along with a reputation of putting on a crazy live set make them an exciting band to see live. They stayed pretty true with said reputation and at one point even managed to tear some of the ceiling down while playing. There was a couple of older hardcore kids there who were moshing pretty hard and doing some of the ugliest stagedives I've ever seen, it was pretty funny. I think the Trash Talk set would have been better if the built in tables on the side wall wasn't there and better placement of stage monitors to allow more stagedives. They blasted through a pretty good set for over 40 minutes. It was pretty fun, but I only wanted to see Envy since I started the drive down from Omaha some 12 hours ealier. Finally that want was fulfilled once the opening notes of Chain Wandering Deeply, the opening track from my favorite album of theirs. It has been over five years since I've last seen Envy and they appeared to have changed their style a little bit since then and played a lot of songs I was unfamiliar with. I wasn't sure, but I think they had a different drummer since I last saw 'em, but it didn't matter it was pretty much a flawless performance. Even with the language barrier being with Envy being from Japan, their emotions come out is such a strong way when they play that the language isn't even important. The songs that I did know was epic and I loved every minute of it. My only complaint it that half the kids who were at the show for the supporting bands left before Envy took to stage. Lame. It didn't matter though, because I finally got to see the band I drove down for. Envy played for maybe an hour and by the time they were finished, the audience seemed very entertained by the amount of applause.

As soon as the show was over we piled into my car, got a top off of gas and hauled ass up to Omaha. The drive back went pretty fast due to no traffic on the interstate at 2am, allowing me to fly at a cool 85mph the entire way. We jammed some Phillip Glass, and talked about space, time, and planets most of the way back, good times. We rolled back into Omaha at about 3:30am, not too bad. Overall, it was a pretty fun trip and was well worth the expense to see Envy play again. The trip down to Lawrence is a lot closer than I remember it being and I would like to buzz down there more often to see more shows. However, I will not make the mistake of leaving too early. A fun trip and a great show. Expect to see the show photos up in a week or two, I'm really excited to see how they turn out. Trash Talk and Touche Amore are both playing a house show here in Omaha on a day off from the tour. It should be fun to see these bands on back to back nights.

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