The first thing I thought as I watched the ACBs get ready to play their set at the Jackpot Saloon on Saturday night was, "Holy crap, how tall is that drummer?"
Turns out he’s about 6’9", and it’s a good thing he plays the kit so he can sit down, because he couldn’t stand up straight on the stage.
His name’s Kyle Rausch and he joined the band in 2010 after a couple of the original members split. I’m pretty sure he was a power forward at some point before.
After fiddling around with their instruments for a bit and running through a quick sound check, the ACBs nonchalantly started their set.
They looked fairly underwhelmed with the small crowd that was out.
But that wasn’t going to stop them.
"We’re all drunk and having fun, so this is fun," explained lead singer Konnor Ervin.
So you’re saying that, if not for the booze, it would’ve just been another shitty show for the band? Yeah, probably.
But that’s kind of beside the point, because there WAS booze. And anyway, Kansas City’s best pop stylists laid down a solid yet quick set that ended up stealing the show from headliners The Kinetiks (on their cd release show no less).
Note to other KC area pop bands: do not have the ACBs open for you.
They started out the night with a new song I think, that sounded a little Shins-ish and featured Ervin’s high warble, then went into an almost reggae-disco-back-beat sort of thing.
The band’s musicianship was solid all-around, with all the band’s members providing vocals, and a tasteful tone that only comes from the experience of playing in many different sized and shaped rooms. Lead guitarist Andrew Conner’s tiny amp buzzed out choppy riffs that left plenty of space for the rambling bass to fill.
At times throughout the night the band reminded me a little of Foster the People, and maybe a dash of Vampire Weekend thrown in there from time to time (but not the really weird HIPster stuff). Ervin does sing ridiculously high at times, but unlike a band like Foster the People, he also can convincingly switch to lower octaves without losing any of his punch.
And though some of the songs are complex, the ACBs don’t try to do anything just for the sake of musical gimmickry. You really get the feeling that they are crafting their songs without a hint of pop irony, and the authenticity comes through in their live show.
About midway through, the tone shifted to a washed out surf rocker that I don’t fully remember, but this is what I wrote in my notebook: "disco backbeat indie crud rock douche o matic."
So it must’ve been cool. The band was getting a little restless, and I heard "tough crowd" tossed around on stage a few times.
Just then, they blazed into probably the catchiest song off 2011’s Stona Rosa, My Face. It features the highest of the high falsetto backed by the powerful dual backing vocals that create a chorus round of "my face"s.
It was pretty damn sweet.
They ended the night with the dreamy, floating, Neon Light, the last track off Stona that features some of the strongest melody writing out of all the ACBs songs. The chorus is so starkly simple that it’s almost nothing, but it’s powerful just how it is.
"Oh really, really? Oh Oh Oh…"
And that’s kind of what makes the ACBs so good.