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Photo Gallery: Shy Boys / Jametatone's Blastocyst / Jocelyn Nixin at recordBar

Ross Brown and Kyle Little of Shy Boys. Photo by Aaron Rhodes.
It was August 4, 2018, one day after Shy Boys' Polyvinyl debut "Bell House" was released, and the recordBar was nearly packed. A quarter after 11 P.M., our five hometown Boys appeared on stage in front of a large, pink sculpture bearing their name (the one used in the "Evil Sin" video). They didn't waste much time before launching into "Miracle Gro," the album's clever a cappella opening number that employs the imagery of the homegrown weed plant that sprouted outside the eponymous house on Bell Street. The crowd roared at its conclusion, more than a recordBar crowd does for nearly any touring act. It felt then as if we were entering peak Shy Boys.

Issues with feedback and crackling amplifier noises popped up a few times through the band's 45 minute performance, but each member's performances were more exceptional than ever before. That's why it felt so astonishing that a somewhat quiet, but very persistent level of chatter was maintained by a portion of the audience through the whole set. Despite the fact that it was a Saturday night downtown and the band and label had built a certain level of hype around the evening, you had to wonder how many people in attendance were unaware of how delicate a majority of the band's catalog is.

When you could successfully focus in past the room's din, the show was an absolute charmer. It was a thrill to hear the new songs live in their finished form for the first time, but it was equally exciting hearing the old songs, too. Ross Brown and Kyle Little -- both guitarists and singers -- had become full-time members in recent years, but have added their own touches to the older songs live. "Life Is Peachy," a single from the time between the two albums benefited from this treatment. Collin Rausch was free to pick on his electric for the song's main hook as Brown strummed along on an acoustic, adding a warm texture not present on the recording.

J. Ashley Miller has been simultaneously delighting and confusing Kansas City's music scene for over a decade now. His latest ensemble under the Jametatone name, Blastocyst, which among other members features pianist Eddie Moore and bassist Jeff Harshbarger, sounds as if it holds band practice on a freshly detailed spaceship. The group's smooth, intergalactic jazz fusion moved quick, not unlike the mind of its creator, who doled out strange, non sequitur banter on several topics within biology and psychology. The set did, although, end with an earnest appeal against ICE.

The night was opened with a solo acoustic set from Jocelyn Nixin of The Creepy Jingles. While some of these pop songs proved enjoyable, most of them felt dull without the punch of her backing band. The set's nearly 40 minute run time felt unjustifiably long.

Full photo gallery here.

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