Energy is an incredibly valuable commodity in live music. Virtually impossible to manufacture, it’s either there or it’s not, and generally speaking the crowd will gladly let you know which. Most often a crowd is won or lost depending on the energy the band exudes on stage, and Saturday’s show at Kansas City’s newest venue, The Truman, would turn out to be a study in energy—both the abundance of it and the lack thereof.
First up was SoCal indie rockers The Wrecks, making their presence known immediately with the uptempo, catchy, excellent opener Wasted Youth. Frontman Nick Anderson exuded a spastic, frenetic energy that reminded me of a long lost character from a John Hughes movie. That energy rubbed off on the crowd, who bounced and danced accordingly, getting increasingly riled up with each song.
Other standouts from the five-piece’s short-but-sweet set included James Dean, from their new EP Panic Vertigo, and the first single from their debut EP, We Are The Wrecks, Favorite Liar. With a slightly punk, undeniably catchy sound reminiscent of bands like Vampire Weekend and Cage the Elephant, I’d be shocked if The Wrecks weren’t a breakout success in the very near future.
Following The Wrecks and trying to capitalize on the momentum they built with the crowd was New York-based trio DREAMERS, supporting their debut LP, 2016’s This Album Does Not Exist. And build on that momentum they did, albeit briefly, with opener Wolves (You Got Me).
For the next few songs, though, things seemed to lag a bit. The songs were good (DREAMERS write tight, catchy melodies with ease), but the energy dipped. To make matters worse, four songs into the set the band slowed things down with Bleed Through, a slower, melancholy song about suicide, and a rather limp cover of The Cranberries’ hit, Zombie. The crowd still voiced their approval but stood motionless throughout, in stark contrast to the near-frenzied, frequent pogo dancing during The Wrecks.
The band did pick the pace back up, and the crowd remained enthusiastic, but they never got the energy in the room back to where it was when they hit the stage, even when vocalist/guitarist Nick Wold tried to stir the crowd up by jumping around, stage diving and briefly crowd surfing. The guys saved their best songs for last, ending the set with a 1-2-3 combo of their singles DRUGS, Painkiller, and Sweet Disaster, respectively. Like The Wrecks, DREAMERS have a lot of potential and are poised for greater success, though unlike the openers they need to work on keeping the energy level high, at least while they’re still a support act. If they’re really smart, they’re taking notes from the tour’s headliners.
When the lights went down for the headlining act, the standing room only crowd at The Truman made it abundantly clear who they were there to see. Danish dance rock band New Politics took to the stage amid a haze of fog and a myriad of lights, and proceeded to tear the house down.
Opening with a deep cut from your newest record may seem like an odd way to start a show, but it was clear from the opening notes of Istanbul that the band knew exactly what they were doing. They were all motion, all energy, with hardly a second for them—or the endlessly bouncing, dancing crowd—to catch their breath. Playing an extensive set with tracks from their entire four album discography, New Politics had the crowd eating from the palm of their hand all night. As someone who was slightly skeptical as to what a poppy band that relied somewhat on electronic instrumentation could do, I was highly impressed.
There’s nothing worse than going to see a band who are touring to support a weak album (for instance, having the misfortune of seeing Metallica on tour in support of St. Anger). Luckily for the band and fans alike, New Politics’ latest, Lost in Translation, is not only a critical but commercial success, full of well-liked songs, ensuring that the energy level stayed high as the band played a healthy amount of tracks from the the new record. By the time they closed the show with Yeah Yeah Yeah, the first single off their self-titled debut, crowd and band alike were smiling and drenched in sweat (one photographer/critic notwithstanding).
The Truman is a cool venue (though the overpriced drinks were a bummer—a layperson like me would think they could sell a lot more alcohol if they lowered the price a couple bucks), just the right size to accommodate a good-sized crowd but still feel intimate. All in all it was a great night of fun, catchy music from all three bands, and impressively high energy from two. Should this tour come to your town, you might want to consider popping for a ticket. Chances are you’ll have a good time and leave with a renewed sense of energy.