View Full Version : Middle Of The Map Fest Night 1 -- Kansas City, MO -- April 3rd, 2014

04-04-2014, 12:13 PM
Kansas City's Middle Of The Map Fest began it's fourth year with a promising bang of incredible performances. Five of the six venues were hosting bands on a chilly Thursday evening, and a group of dedicated music fans followed the music from venue to venue in a number that should only grow as the weekend approaches.

The night kicked off at the Riot Room with Various Blonde on the patio stage. Various Blonde is a back-to-basics four-piece of guitar, bass, drums and keys. Their sound is an amalgamation of jazz, progressive rock, punk-ish riffs, free-form soloing and psychedelic jamming. For every Mars Volta-esque jam, there was an equally amazing Doors-like keyboard solo. Very danceable music from some very, very talented people!

On the inside stage of the Riot Room right after was experimental one-man machine Max Justus. With a bevy of samplers and drum machines in front of him, Max created very laid-back and dark dance beats while performing his very ethereal vocals that almost seemed to stay in the background of the music which just created an even more stark and haunting effect. Sounding like "Kid A"-era Radiohead isn't easy to do, but Max Justus is putting his own spin on it and creating something very unique and very enjoyable.

Back outside on the patio stage at Riot Room was Is Paris Burning, a catchy, dance pop/rock band that had a pretty good-sized crowd to watch them at 8:00. The band's sound was incredibly bass heavy and featured riffs and vocals that would leave any fan of somber-yet-happy indie rock like The Smiths or Joy Division satisfied. There was a good little amount of shit-talking on St. Louis and the band seemed to be having a great time on stage which just transferred that positive energy into the crowd. It was getting cold outside, but Is Paris Burning warmed some people up.

The main attraction for night one of the festival would be the bill at Ernie Biggs Thursday night. As most people shuffled their way to the dueling piano bar, London's Roman Remains took the stage and performed their brand of dark, electro-pop/rock that went over well with everyone in attendance. Their sound has callbacks to everyone from Glass Candy and Crystal Castles to Chromatics and The Knife. As just a three-piece, Roman Remains successfully warmed up everyone for the rest of the bill and probably converted more than a few people into new fans.

As for the biggest surprise of the night, that'd have to go to Los Angeles duo Big Black Delta. Frontman Jonathan Bates' was singing his heart out while dancing all over the stage before bounding back to his computer and sampler and remixing everything live. It was honestly some of the most impressive music I've personally ever seen performed. It was like some insane mixture of Jamiroquai and Depeche Mode with punk aesthetics. Very unique and extremely magnificent.

The headliner of this particular show (and some might say of the festival itself) was none other than the synth master himself, Gary Numan. To most of the population, Gary Numan is "that guy who did that 'Cars' song" but as it turns out, he has an extremely dedicated fanbase that has followed him for years. Despite the synthpop-heavy sound he may be associated with, Gary Numan put on the heaviest set of the festival by far; it looks like that association with Trent Reznor has rubbed off on him a bit. If some people can argue that Nine Inch Nails in their "The Downward Spiral"-era are industrial metal, then you can argue the same for Gary Numan. Songs like "I Am Dust" and "Everything Comes Down To This" were just as heavy live as they are on album, and old classics like "Metal" and, yes, even "Cars" were tweaked live so they were much more industrial metal than synth pop. Gary Numan is as impressive now as he ever has been, which is a feat not many musicians with megahits in the 70s and 80s can say.

Night #1 of the Middle of the Map Festival was a resounding success. All it needs is sunshine and warm weather for night #2 and #3, but Kansas City already has one of the most impressive local-and-otherwise music festivals in the country once again.

Gary Numan:

1. Resurrection
2. I Am Dust
3. Metal
4. Everything Comes Down To This
5. Films
6. Here In The Black
7. The Fall
8. The Calling
9. Down In The Park
10. Lost
11. Cars
12. Pure
13. Splinter
14. We're The Unforgiven
15. Love Hurt Bleed
16. A Prayer for the Unborn
17. I Die: You Die
18. Are 'Friends' Electric?
19. My Last Day

Gary Numan: 9/10
Big Black Delta: 9/10
Roman Remains: 7.5/10
Is Paris Burning: 7.5/10
Max Justus: 7/10
Various Blonde: 8/10

04-04-2014, 11:27 PM
Not gonna do a full review of night two. Sound was meh for every venue tonight for some reason.

The Get Up Kids: 8.5/10
J Roddy Walston and The Business: 4/10
Hearts of Darkness: 8/10
Cowboy Indian Bear: 8/10

Tomorrow I'll be seeing some locals and then Peelander-Z. Gonna make it an early night.

04-05-2014, 09:33 AM
Gary Numan and Various Blondes = me being jealous