Participating in a round of spin-the-bottle requires a willingness to take a risk in exchange for a chance at a desirable reward. Many members of the audience of 1,800 played the flirtatious parlor game during at the Midland on Friday.
For a band plagued by several career missteps and lineup instability, Shiny Toy Guns proved to be an impressive headliner. The Los Angeles-based quartet’s ballads shimmered with delicate swathes of synthetic sound while its upbeat material packed an industrial wallop. A cover of Depeche Mode’s “Stripped” reflected the band’s primary inspiration. Shiny Toy Guns attempts to present a futuristic image, but it’s inescapably tethered to its roots in 1980s synth-pop. Even so, the twin vocals of Carah Faye Charnow and Gregori Chad Petree added warmth to their band’s chilly sound.
The New Zealand-born and London-based newcomer Willy Moon recasts rockabilly and vintage R&B for today’s modern rock audience. The lanky newcomer resembles Chris Isaak by way of Let’s Dance-era David Bowie. Accompanied by backing tracks in addition to a live drummer and guitarist, Moon’s set included straightforward covers of the Little Willie John hit “I’m Shakin’” and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell On You.” The audience lit up for a rendition of the international hit “Yeah Yeah,” but few grumbled when Moon left the stage after less than 30 minutes. His outing was already beginning to wear thin.
The Beautiful Bodies have long been recognized as one of Kansas City’s most energetic live acts. The commanding stage presence of vocalist Alicia Solombrino and the kinetic motion of her band mates thrilled the youthful audience. She proudly explained that her band recently won the national Ernie Ball’s Battle of the Bands for Warped Tour competition. The strength of the punk-inspired band’s new material like “Invincible” surely played in a role in their success. The Beautiful Bodies’ riveting performance for hundreds of people who’d never seen the band was a genuine star-making turn.
I Am Dynamite, a gregarious duo from Michigan, began the show with 30 minutes of engaging garage rock. A generous Valentine’s gift from a radio station to its fans, the concert was as bracing as an unexpected but nonetheless welcome kiss of a stranger