Review: The Kinetiks, the Volunteers and the Also Rans

In response to possible hype over releasing a new Kinetiks album, Spencer Goertz-Giffen said: "Psyche!" She told the audience the band will put out a new CD later this summer.

Still, this group didn't need to dangle the promise of a new album to entice people to check out last night's show at the Bottleneck. Their reputation for a fierce and playful live set was enough to pack the dance floor.

First - a full disclosure: I missed the Helmers opening up last night's concert because I was trying to finish up a pitcher of margarita down the street. I heard they sounded good. I'm sorry I missed them.

Also Rans started-off with some technical problems but finished strong. The Kansas City group played up a gruff and rough sound, channeling Nirvana and other grunge influences. They had some great bass parts in their music, but sometimes their vocal harmonies seemed off. I also enjoyed their rocker's interpretation of the Cure's "Boy's Don't Cry."

The Volunteers started-off strong enough to break guitar strings on their first song. That's when Tyler Jack played Spencer's guitar (from the Kinetiks) for the next few tunes. Their music has the classic feel of the 60's; sounding like the Beatles with a modern indie pop attitude. At the Bottleneck, the Volunteers rocked out with peppy crowd favorites, including a lively version of "The Difference." The group also congratulated Andrew Kissel on the keyboard for graduating from the University of Kansas. His family was sitting up in the booths to check out his live set. Finally, Spencer popped in for cameo and played a cowbell for the Volunteer's last song.

The Kinetiks bundled up the the energy left-behind by the Volunteers and knocked it up another level. The crowd bounced, jerked and raved to the band's crazy good indie rock sounds, mixed with punk, funk and electro-glitch sentiments. Their live version of "Pretend" pulsed with wild guitar riffs and hard drum beats. It was clear the band wanted to make sure everyone was having a good time. The Kinetiks' explosive vocals and provocative lyrics remind me of the iconic sounds by Sleater-Kinney, but with a Lawrence soul and sense of humor. Between songs, head vocal mistress Spencer Goertz-Giffen introduced the crowd to her new smoking buddy, a 4-month old fake baby wearing a T-shirt that read: Love Bites. While pounding out some wicked cool chords on the keyboard, Rani Waugh welcomed another fan when he crashed the stage and accompanied the band with an off-beat tambourine.

Overall, the concert was a fantastic commencement party for new KU graduates. Last night, people forgot about the upcoming job hunt, school loan payments and mapping out the rest of their lives. Instead, the new grads lived in the moment; dancing to the loud, wild and spunky sounds that helped them survive their college years.


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