AUSTIN, Texas-- Friday afternoon, moments after KU's escape from notoriety, I saw the third of four Kansas City artists/bands perform down here. Adrianne Verhoeven is in many ways like a lot of other musicians down here, hoping to crack the mainstream or just trying to drum up more out-of-town or out-of-state gigs to keep her band busy. She calls herself Dri, her nickname
Friday afternoon, she and her three-piece band, which includes two members of the Lawrence band Ghosty, played a brief afternoon set in an off-the-main-path venue in Austin. Several of the 30 or so people who came to watch/listen at 2 p.m. on a lovely spring afternoon were friends, acquaintances and colleagues from Kansas City. (There is an abundance of hometown loyalty down here).
Dri played some cuts off herr solo album, "Smoke RIngs," which was released on Range Life Records. Unlike a lot of people in bands down here, she is a trained/schooled vocalist and musician. That only matters because she uses her knowledge and her skills to creat music that is as accessible as it is smart and sophisticated. The six or seven songs she and her three-piece band played shifted in mood and genre. Two of them were very ambient-folk songs that recalled Mazzy Star and/or Cowboy Junkies. The rest of the influences/resemblances: Feist, Nico and one or two of those Saddle Creek bands she has toured with or been affilliated with.
It was all very groovy and appealing. The crowd at this semi-official SXSW site wasn't large but it got bigger as pedestrians walking by the venue stopped to listen and, liking what they heard, came in for a good look/listen. In the perfect world, one of those accidental tourists would have been somebody with some money to spend on her and her band and her career, which feels as ready for a breakout as any local act.
The Life and Times: They fover-filled a cozy rooftop space on Sixth Street on Thursday night and showed off some new songs from the new album ("Tragic Boogie") that reflect where the creative mind of Alan Epley is in 2009. The new songs were accessible but still smart, progressive and heavy. Epley,it seems, has figured out how to channel all that music savvy,knowledge and calculus into material that is shorter and punchier but still reveals its tricks and twists gradually to the listener. Plus the band is as ripped and roaring as a UFC fighter. All in all, a reat set that got lots of love from a crowd that included a least a couple of old Shiner fans.
The Republic Tigers: They played a PureVolume party Thursday night. More than 100 fans were there, and it was nice to see/watch a crowd that isn't from KC sing-along to songs from 'Keep Colors," and not just "Buildings and Mountains." This was at least the fifth time I've seen them, and each time they sound tighter and leaner, like they're figuring out a compromise between the live show and the killer album, which is so lavishly producedand hard to re-create live. Thursday, it seemed, the boys struck a nice balance.