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Not A Planet

Show recap: Apocalypse Meow 6

On any given night in KC or Lawrence, there are bands playing to groups of varying sizes and intensity levels. Some of the audience is on its feet dancing. Some of them have their noses stuck in their electronic habitats. People order a few drinks at the bar during a quiet song, maybe smoke a cigarette between songs. The Friday night kick-off party of Apocalypse Meow 6 was one of those rare nights when the audience unified to experience and be captivated by the music.
This is the first Apocalypse Meow show since the death of Abigail Henderson, who—along with friends and husband Chris Meck—founded Midwest Music Foundation after friends held a benefit for Henderson when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. On Friday, Meck debuted his trio The Guilty Birds (pictured above), the first project without his wife since they began 10 years ago in Trouble Junction, and his very first project as primary singer/songwriter.
The trio (including Tiny Horse members Zach Phillips and Matt Richey) played a short but poignant rock/soul-infused set, while a packed crowd locked eyes and ears to draw in each note; to admire the musicianship, the ability, the fire, the obstacles and the affirming end result; to feel the anguish of a noticeable absence, but to honor and celebrate its legacy. The Silver Maggies kept the audience at attention with dark Americana propelled by intelligent songwriting. Hundreds of raffle tickets for Meck’s custom-built (with assistance from Phillips, Chris Wagner, and Paul Marchman) Fender Telecaster were purchased on Friday alone, and that spirit of generosity graciously carried into Saturday evening.

With a larger-capacity venue at Knuckleheads, eleven bands/solo performers commandeered the indoor and outdoor stages on night two. She’s A Keeper began by grabbing and enveloping the filtering-in crowd with its brand of colossal folk rock. The entrancing, aggressive outlaw blues of the duo Freight Train & Rabbit Killer (pictured below) demanded attention with its minimalistic setup, menacing costumes, and otherworldly presence. Meanwhile, the acoustic stage was occupied by a few KC music legends, all of whom were dear friends of Henderson’s. This connection translated into each musician’s cathartic sound, beginning with heartstring-pulling stories from Tony Ladesich (pictured below). Betse Ellis followed (and guest starred with the other acoustic stage performers later) with a fierce fiddle that could have sliced through any act on the main stage.
As the evening grew colder, warm bodies migrated toward the front and moved their hips to power trio Not A Planet (pictured below), pushed by the dynamic rhythm section of Liam Sumnicht and Bill Surges and steered by Nathan Corsi’s steady, pitch-perfect vocals. And no matter which stage you chose or floated to and from, each remaining act performed with no shortage of moxie. Howard Iceberg—KC’s answer to Bob Dylan—played a quiet but potent, storied set that included a duet performance with Michelle Sanders, a dulcet complement to Iceberg’s earnestly gruff voice. Federation of Horsepower frontman Gregg Todt (pictured below with Ellis) traded in his distorted axe for to round out the acoustic stage with a bluesy soul tone.
The second half of main stage featured three acts with female powerhouses at the forefront. The Latenight Callers’ Julie Berndsen allured the crowd with a coy sensuality that developed into a fiery, lascivious character, enhanced by the band’s electrifying, mammoth noir sounds. The Philistines continued in that same vein of ferocity from Kimberely Queen, whose appropriately unbridled theatrics amplified the band’s barbaric psychedelic rock sounds. The musical climax came when Sister Mary Rotten Crotch (pictured below) was welcomed to the stage right after Meck’s guitar was raffled off and subsequently auctioned (Artie Scholes, the raffle winner and also owner of The 403 Club, gave the guitar back to MMF for this purpose) to the highest bidder. But outside of this positive gesture and outside of the fact that many fans had been waiting for Sister Mary to take the stage again (the band’s last performance before taking a five-year hiatus was Apocalypse Meow 1 in ’08, and they only recently reunited to play a couple weeks before), frontwoman Liz Spillman Nord injected the hungry audience with an acrimonious punk vitriol. The veteran band showed old and new fans alike that they still pack a mean, purposeful rock punch and they still don’t give a fuck what you think.
Midwest Music Foundation and Abby's Fund for Musicians' Health Care made $12,000 at Apocalypse Meow this year, thanks to the efforts of all that were in attendance or made a donation of time, money, and/or resources. And though it was impossible for each moment of Meow weekend to have been as uninterrupted and uplifting as its inaugural set was, a sense of community was felt by each attendee and volunteer/staff member, each auction bid, each raffle ticket that fell into each bucket, each embrace or tear shed, each note or beat played.
On behalf of Midwest Music Foundation and The Deli Magazine—Kansas City, we thank you for your support of local music and those who work to make it happen. We thank you for honoring Abigail and helping us continue to carry on her legacy.
--Michelle Bacon
Michelle is editor of The Deli Magazine - Kansas City, and also plays drums Drew Black & Dirty Electric and bass in Dolls on Fire and The Philistines. Thanks to everyone who made this weekend beautiful. #shinealight



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MidCoast Cares presents Rock For Relief: A Benefit for Moore, Oklahoma

Tonight, MidCoast Cares (who also raised money for the relief effort in the 2011 Joplin tornado) presents Rock For Relief: A Benefit for Moore, Oklahoma, which was recently devastated by a tornado.

Doors open at 5:30 and the show starts at 6, beginning with Ghost Town Heart, then She's A Keeper, Not A Planet, Antennas Up, Beautiful Bodies, and closing out with Cover Me Badd. The event is at KC Live! in the Power & Light District. There are NO presale tickets. General admission is $10; $20 will get you entry, two drink tickets, and access to the VIP Lounge. All proceeds will go to benefit the tornado recovery in Moore through Heart to Heart International. A silent auction will also be held, and the first 200 attendees will receive a buy-one-get-one-free card from Chipotle.

Join the Kansas City music community for a great cause to help our neighbors in Oklahoma. Here's the Facebook event page.

--Michelle Bacon

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Album review: Not A Planet - The Few, The Proud, The Strange

(Photo by Todd Zimmer)

To say that Not A Planet puts on a show is an understatement. Led by Nathan Corsi and his extremely detailed, story-driven lyrics and oh-so-sexy guitar presence, Not A Planet brings something most bands in this region are unable to do without overdoing it. Corsi, backed by the fast fingered “Wild” Bill Sturges on bass and the one and only (dare I say handsome) Liam Sumnicht on the drums (see our interview with Sumnicht), this trio brings one hundred and ten percent of their energy to every show they play. Extravagant and catchy in all the best ways, Not A Planet’s newly-released twelve-song LP The Few, The Proud, The Strange shouldn’t have a problem winning over fans of rock and roll in a heartbeat.

Opening track “Greatest Show On Earth” kicks the record off with a whimsical bang. Lyrical metaphors of a grandiose circus reflect in the dynamic music that carries Corsi's voice. The line, “Climbing in the cannon, a smile on his face, he waves at all the sadists in the crowd” might explain why the album cover has a stunt man helmet on the front. The track serves as a proclamation of what to expect throughout the rest of this record: elaborate tales and massive instrumentation.
“Girl Comes Down” is a beautiful singer/songwriter ballad that I imagine would warm the hearts of lovers around the world. With its simplistic nature (vocals and clean folk guitar) a love story unfolds that just makes you want to hold your loved one close. If Wesley from The Princess Bride played guitar, he would definitely learn this song and play it for Buttercup.
The next track, “Kingdom Come,” shows off a punchier side of Not A Planet. Sturges’ groovy bass lines really shine on this track. His ability to hold down the low end is impeccable and it becomes even more apparent throughout the rest of the record. Sumnicht keeps the song fast and fun. If you’re a fan of air drumming, this song will keep you extremely busy. The band recently filmed a music video for “Kingdom Come” at the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum (see below).
“Bang Goes The Gun” is one of my favorite songs to watch Not A Planet play live. Here, they do an excellent job recreating the explosiveness that makes this song great. The dainty rim shots, deep bass, and smooth vocals that start the song out are abruptly interrupted by a chorus hits harder than Floyd Mayweather. “Bang Goes The Gun” packs a punch that makes The Few, The Proud, The Strange a force to recon with.
Without skipping a beat, “Black Dress” follows, and would give The Black Keys a run for their money. Oozing with swankyness and bluesy riffage, “Black Dress” will make you move. No if, ands, or buts. Well…maybe butts.
“Invisible Man” is an eerie track that is filled with haunting, reverb-soaked vocals, interesting time signature changes, and soaring guitar solos. After giving it a few listens, there is no denying that Not A Planet can write a catchy chorus no matter what the vibe of the song is.
A little slower-paced than the previous two tracks, “Low” would make Stevie Ray Vaughn proud. After bashing himself for all of his faults, Corsi sings the lyrics, “You don’t know how low I would go.” With its waltz-like rhythm, it develops into an evil carnival of self-observation. Conflicted and full of turmoil, “Low” shows listeners that Not A Planet has a darker side.
“There’s No Coming Back” begins with massive bass and drums, and a very sweet reversed snare drum track that adds a cool texture to this soothing song. This track sounds like the band recorded ghostly sounds from the spirits that hang out in Black Lodge, where the album was recorded. This is a consistent, easy listening track.
With the ninth track, “My Train Is Coming,” the NAP boys bring it back to their roots: straightforward train car ROCK AND ROLL. This high-energy song is classic rock to the core and makes me wish I had a six-pack and a few friends to drink with right now.
The interestingly tenth track, “Free To Be Chained,” is a bouncy song with dance-worthy drums and dreamy harmonies provided by Sumnicht and Sturges. If anyone out there is working on a Phantom of the Rock opera, this track would fit in well. I’m a huge fan of creepy, grittily recorded voices in songs and though I can’t distinguish whose voice it is at the end of the song, it definitely adds some mystery (and evidence to my case that Not A Planet recorded ghosts talking).
Ironically titled “The End,” track number eleven isn’t the last song on The Few, The Proud, The Strange. Similar to track two with its simplistic instrumentation, it has a little more production behind it and it lyrically demands to be heard. The final line, “Because in the end, love is the only truth,” brings an uplifting vibe to tail end of this record.
The album’s final track “I’ve Got A Secret” seems more like a fun “We are so happy to have finished an awesome record” studio jam. With a groovin’ piano, elephant noises, chattering groups of people, and long fade out, this is a song die hard Not A Planet fans will get a kick out of.
The Few, The Proud, The Strange was released on May 10. Not A Planet’s next show is next Tuesday, May 21, at The Bottleneck. The trio also has several tour dates in June. Information available at the band’s website, www.notaplanet.com
--Eric Augustus Fain

Eric Fain plays bass and is the most hairy/handsome member of Clairaudients. In December of 2011, he filled in on bass for Not A Planet for five shows. His compensation: a pair of Liam's Vans (I can't find one of them...), $60 (I'd have done it for free!), and the memory of Nathan trying to throw up out of a moving van (he failed and threw up all over my face instead. True story, bro).

On The Beat with Liam Sumnicht

(Photo by Jodie Platz Photography) 

From promoting local music by presenting it on the radio or pounding on a kit on stage, Liam Sumnicht is a loud proponent of the Kansas City music scene. His band Not A Planet is getting its name known in the area with an album release in the next month, and is playing one of the MidCoast Takeover fundraisers this weekend. To find out more about Liam, catch the beat right here!
--Michelle Bacon
On The Beat is an exclusive feature from The Deli Magazine-Kansas City that showcases many of the talented drummers in the Kansas City area. 

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On The Beat with Liam Sumnicht
A vital part of the Kansas City music scene, Liam Sumnicht supports the community as drummer for rock band Not A Planet and as co-host of a radio show devoted to presenting local talent. We catch up with Liam and learn a bit more about the man behind the scenes.

The Deli: How did the drums find you?
Liam SumnichtMy parents swear that when I was in the womb, my dad would tap a specific beat on my mom's stomach, and I would tap it back exactly as he had. Aside from that and banging pots and pans as a child (bless my mother for her patience), I started drum lessons in elementary school, right before I was old enough to join the school band. My teachers had me develop my hands for 2 to 3 years before I moved to the kit.
The Deli: Have you played other instruments?
LS: Nothing major. My stepbrother was in a metal band that was touring stadiums in the '80s, and he let me make noise on his guitars at a young age. My mom played the harp for a living as I grew up, and felt music was an important part of life. Between maybe, 5 and 10 years old, she taught me some very elementary things on the harp and the recorder, as well as how to sing rounds and carry a tune. My family instilled a cool and diverse groundwork for me, which I'm thankful for.
The DeliWhat type of kit(s) do you use?
LS: I play and endorse C&C Custom Drums. My kit has a green sparkle stripe on white background, with white powder coated rims. It looks nice, but more importantly, it sounds great. I have a lot of pride for the company: their quality in new vintage drums, and the waves they are making for our town. It can be a challenge for a business to represent KC nationally or globally. But when my band hits the road to a coast, no matter where we go, it seems like every drummer I run into that sees my kit tells me everything they know about C&C, and how they are planning to get theirs designed when they get one. It's an integral piece of my KC pride.
The DeliBiggest influences?
LSMy goal is to play drums to the song. Musicians I've played with have influenced how I play, and drum teachers and producers have taught me a whole stinkin' lot about doing it better. As far as national drummers (or national records with multiple drummers) that have left their mark: Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters), John Pike (RIP) (Ra Ra Riot), John Bonham (Zeppelin), Worship and Tribute by Glassjaw, As Tall As Lions by As Tall As Lions.
The Deli: Tell us about some of the bands you’ve been in.
LSI started in high school with a band called Plain Wight. We were together for several years. That experience taught me a lot about how to be in band, write together, approach the business aspects, and work as a team. When that band's time came to an end, I didn't play with anyone for several months and it started to bug me. So I decided to fill in with as many groups as possible, in as many genres as possible. One of those was The Tambourine Club. That was fun. The main brain behind the project is Bryan Lamanno, and he writes this cool, indie, lo-fi garage rock. After a few months of playing all different styles, I needed one to call my own. Not long after, Not A Planet was formed.
The Deli: What is your approach to drumming? Has it evolved much since you started playing?
LS: In the beginning, I just wanted to hit hard, loud, and play as many things at once as possible. I still love playing hard and loud, but over time, I've grown to have an affection for the beauty of dynamics and negative space. I think the goal is and always was to make things big. It's just the approach that changes, and learning more about how to do it better.
The DeliOkay, let’s say you get to pick a group of KC/Lawrence drummers to make a drum circle with. Who would they be?
LS: You're telling me I get to pick a bunch of drummers to play with? Let's do eight: all kit players, and all with different backgrounds.
Billy Johnson (Shots Fired, many more) to bring the heavy hitting
Josh Enyart (Jorge Arana Trio, Various Blonde) to bring the syncopation
Lennon Bone (Ha Ha Tonka) to bring the dynamics
Aaron Crawford (Flee The Seen, Beautiful Bodies) to bring the speed
Thomas Becker (guitarist, Beautiful Bodies) to bring the party
The Ryantist (Antennas Up) to bring the funkiness
Tim Cote (Me Like Bees) to bring the creativity.
I can't imagine what a challenge it would be to keep eight set players of different in the pocket together, but that'd part of the fun.
The Deli: You’re not only a drummer; you co-host Homegrown Buzz on 96.5 on Sunday nights. Tell us a little bit about that and who some of your favorite KC bands are.
LS: A little over four years ago, I started going to a lot of shows, and the talent in the area was glaringly obvious. But, for whatever reason, labels tend to avoid Kansas City. And as the curse of the local band tends to go, if the record label doesn't care, most townspeople don't care. That was frustrating for me, and I wanted to share my excitement for the talent here. So, I stumbled my way onto Homegrown about three-and-a-half years ago, and I’ve been able to share a little love for some of the great area bands ever since. I've got a lot of favorites in many genres, but I've been on a folky/indie, "quiet" kick recently. The bands I'll list here either do that exclusively, or have bits and pieces of it. They are all amazing. EyelitThe Blackbird RevueMe Like Bees, Towers, O, Giant ManCowboy Indian Bear, and Quiet Corral.
The DeliWhat other plans do you have for the bands this year?
LS: We just finished tracking our debut full-length record. This is a proud moment for us. We recorded at Black Lodge, fearlessly led by the charming and talented producer, Michael Stout. It's a concept record involving the seven stages of grief, life, death, and reincarnation, and will release in March. Also in March, I'm thrilled to say that we are headed to SXSW to play Midwest Music Foundation’s Midcoast Takeover showcase. What a great thing to be a part of. The work that MMF does for our scene is another piece of my KC pride. And in the coming months, we'll be back out on the road, in our dingy, trusty van, Gertrude, spreading the word of the new record, one city at a time.
Sumnicht will join his band Not A Planet on Saturday, February 16 for the fourth MidCoast Takeover fundraiser at The Brick. The group will be playing at 12:30, along with Rev GustoCherokee Rock Rifle, and David Hasselhoff on Acid. Facebook event page here. You can also catch him on Homegrown Buzz on Sundays at 8:00 to 10:00 pm on 96.5 The Buzz. Not A Planet was also one of over 40 KC artists selected to play the 2013 MidCoast Takeover showcase at SXSW from March 13-16 at Shangri-La in Austin, Texas.
--Michelle Bacon 
Michelle is editor-in-chief of The Deli - Kansas City. She plays with Deco AutoDrew Black and Dirty Electric, and Dolls on Fire. She just finished eating jalapeno bourbon bacon from Local Pig, but is not a cannibal.
Liam Sumnicht
Not A Planet
 Photo by Todd Zimmer



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