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Words and Photos: Shy Boys / Liam Kazar / Paris Williams at Lemonad(e) Park

Kyle Little and Ross Brown of Shy Boys at Lemonad(e) Park. Photo by Aaron Rhodes.
Date: September 23, 2021

Lemonad(e) Park - Kansas City, MO

I was chatting with (lightly punishing) Shy Boys' Kyle Little before the band's set on Thursday night when he pointed out that he and Ross Brown would not be bringing their guitars on their upcoming tour with Video Age. Following a recent set opening for Waxahatchee at Knuckleheads and a trip out to True/False in Columbia, Missouri, this was one of the first Shy Boys sets since the release of their third LP, Talk Loud, last year.

The removal of the two additional guitars wasn't a total surprise considering Talk Loud is the band's most synth-heavy release yet, but the complete ousting of the extra guitars was interesting. Many parts would have to be reinterpreted for older songs to work. Little said they were (I paraphrase) "leaning into the bit." 


For the most part, the bit paid off. It was still a Shy Boys show, just a slightly different one. There was still the chatty crowd that's followed them since the release of Bell House. And still the delightful vocal harmonies and adventurous pop melodies. Gone, on occasion, was the six-stringed warmth that contributed to the charm of a couple songs. But the addition of bright synths to Bell House's "Take The Doggie" was a set highlight. Brown and Little also absolutely went to town on post-Bell House single "Dim The Light," soloing the hell out of one bridge. "View From The Sky" was perhaps the set's most exciting moment, drowning out all the semi-loud talk and the ambient noise of the West Bottoms with its joyful buoyancy.

This show was, as far as I can tell, the Kansas City debut of Chicago transplant Liam Kazar. The singer-songwriter is about a decade deep in the music biz despite his new album, Due North, being his first as a solo artist. Kazar played in Kids These Days (featuring Vic Mensa and Nico Segal), grew up with Spencer Tweedy (son of Wilco's Jeff Tweedy; Spencer is Kazar's current drummer), backed Daniel Johnston in concert with the Tweedys, and is the sibling of Ohmme's Sima Cunningham. After two years of living in Kansas City (arriving just before the pandemic), he announced that he was happy to finally introduce his band of Chicagoans to his adopted hometown.

Kazar and his band arguably stole the show. The blend of jangly indie rock guitar, R&B grooves, and country-soul textures (a lap steel was present) achieved on Due North and at this performance was both impressive and refreshing; perfect for an outdoor set just after dark in the first week of autumn. There wasn't a stale moment, every player making their contributions as bold or subtle as they needed to be at any given moment. Despite Kazar's clean guitar tone, there were moments where the only word that could be used to describe his actions is "shredding." Don't sleep on this stuff.

Paris Williams opened the show with a brief set of material from his Cocoa EP and an unreleased collab with Bloom Allen. The crowd was mostly still arriving or just hanging out in the back (and I'm pretty sure I saw some of his under 21 friends turned away at the door), so he didn't have much energy to feed off, but his performance was another solid one nonetheless.

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