Show review: The Growlers/Radkey/UZIS at Riot Room, 2.3.13

While sports fans gathered together over watered down brews and chicken wing cupcakes, The Riot Room celebrated Super Bowl Sunday by opening its doors to a menagerie of leather-clad locals in support of Costa Mesa band, The Growlers. While The Growlers certainly captivated Midtown with their upbeat surf-psych melodies and Brooks Nielsen’s listless shimmying, the band was framed by a full-bodied lineup, including Kansas City bands, Radkey and UZIS.

A newer band made up of familiar faces, UZIS started off the night during the death rattle of Sunday’s game. Mitch Clark and Jessie Brown vocalize well together, their harmonies serving to complement the simple, upbeat energy of their set. Backed by Chris Farmer on drums, the trio executed a neatly compact set of melody-driven, lighthearted punk rock. By starting off the show with “Spider” and “Black and Blue”(a particularly well-written track), UZIS set the tone for the remainder of their performance. What the band lacks in self-indulgent guitar solos, they make up for in accomplished simplicity, reminiscent of a time the term “pop-punk” was not a musical death sentence. Their cover of La Peste’s “Don’t Wanna Die (In My Sleep)” paid tribute to the late ‘70s melodic punk reincarnated by their set. “Shut Your Mouth” evoked a sneering swagger from Clark, which accentuated the mood of UZIS performance with the perfect hint of irreverence.
UZIS, of course, were not the only band to celebrate a throwback to puritanical punk rock during Sundays show. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Radkey took the stage after a sobering break provided by Jessica Hernandez and her band, The Deltas. While their set was well executed and soulful, their placement in the lineup created a break in the pace of Sunday’s show, although I am doubtful that this was the fault of Hernandez. However, whatever energy had waned since the UZIS set was quickly rekindled by the three brothers that have recently turned so many heads in Kansas City.
After being named The Deli’s Emerging Kansas City Artist of 2012, Dee, Isaiah, and Solomon Radke have been stealing the spotlight in Kansas City, and Sunday’s show was another for the boys to add to their ever impressive resume of performances. What blows me away every time that I have been fortunate enough to see Radkey is the stunning depth of sound that they accomplish through their intelligent and well-placed guitar solos (a particularly well-placed solo during the track “Little Man” was a brilliant punctuation to their set), which are simultaneously brief and complex, as well as Dee’s deep and resonating vocals. Most press that the band has received has harped relentlessly on how incredibly young the members of Radkey are, which is understandable. But after the year that the boys have had, they have made it clear that they are not relying on any cheap gimmicks, including their own youth, to draw a crowd to their shows.  Bursting out of the gate with “Where Do You Stand,” the brothers set a fast pace….and kept up with it. The track “Cat & Mouse” seems to remain a crowd favorite every set the boys have played, and Sunday’s show was no exception, the solid thumping rhythm of the song commanding attention from the steadily growing audience.
The Growlers, and their touring partners Jaill, wrapped up Sunday’s show with a notably lighter collection of tunes, culminating in the much anticipated set by The Growlers, whose current tour will culminate in their appearance at Austin’s annual PsychFest, hosted by The Black Angels this April.
Radkey will be opening for Illinois duet Local H next Wednesday, February 13 at recordBar. UZIS will be playing at recordBar as well, on Saturday, March 30, with local heroes The Architects.

--Stephanie Bloss
Stephanie Bloss is an artist and writer living in Kansas City, Missouri. She is currently in residency at The Roost Gallery in the West Bottoms and has been active in the KC music community since 2010.