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Issue 139 Live Review NOTS, BRUISER QUEEN, HANUKKAH JONES BAND
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Wednesday November 4, 2015 Rose Music Hall, Columbia

2015 is nearing its end and there's a lot to take in. The weather is getting chiller with longer nights, which is to be expected. Columbia, meanwhile, is facing a crisis of sorts as underlying tension that had previously been overlooked has erupted in protests and a MU graduate student going on hunger strike regarding systemic racism on the MU Campus that is revealing the tensions too many people have often wanted to ignore. On a personal front, I've been kept somewhat busy with the paying jobs but have needed an escape from the pressure. When I learned about this show I knew I wanted to go (having seen the headliners a few months earlier at Foam in St. Louis [see interview in issue 136/137 for more details]) and also had a print run that needed to be done. So on this November Wednesday afternoon I headed out from the sticks to Columbia to print out the 23rd anniversary issue, get some dinner, and get ready for this show.

It had been a while since I'd seen the latest incarnation of the Hanukkah Jones Band so I was curious what their show would be like. The local trio kicked off the night with a set of sometime obtuse but catchy style of rock that builds upon punk rock visceral with almost power pop like song craft. Full of obtuse lyrics set to a sonic bed of moving rhythms and a blend of crunchy and jangly guitars Jon, Joel, and Kevin delivered music that drew the listener in and piqued their interest whether through a love song, references to comic book characters or the hint of something bigger underneath the surface in some of their songs. The band has been through a lot over the past few years but manages to overcome the adversity and has hit solid ground in their current form. It had been a while since I'd seen the Hanukkah Jones Band and that's on me. If you get a chance to see them go check out their music and make up your own mind.

Bruiser Queen held down the middle part of the evening in terms of entertainment and immediately went for it. Morgan and Jason fired up some punk rock meets gooey pop songs built on heavy (often reverb laced) guitar and driving yet surprising nuanced at times beats. Drawing from a mix of punk and indie rock along with oldies and vintage pop music, their personal songs lure you in and evoke images of life, relationships, and longing amongst other things. While their set was relatively short (being sandwiched between two bands can do that), the St. Louis based duo went for the throat and delivered kept the energy level going for the night, climaxing with "Tiny Heart Attack" to wind things down. Bruiser Queen played a set that met expectations and complimented what went down earlier as well as what was to come. Check them out if you get a chance to do so.

Finally it was time for NOTS to come up and bring the night to its conclusion just before heading off for some European dates. With a little bit different gear than the last time I saw them the quartet offered up a set of underground rock where punk, indie, and noise combine. Reverb-ed guitar and spacey synth noises melt over a solid rhythm section for fast moving songs rock raveups with an old sci-fi spacey feel that adds a slightly off-kilter hint to capture the listener. Like the last time I saw them the band's high energy music caught my ear and piqued my interest, though with more details (in part due to the RMH PA) than it would in a smaller space though still remaining rough around the edges. NOTS once again reveals themselves to be an energetic live band with a vibe that makes them unique. Glad I made the time to check them out again. I recommend you do the same if you get the chance.

After the show was over I hung around for a bit to talk to some people and see what was up in the merch dept. I also conducted an interview you'll see next issue. The show itself was a great time musically though a little odd in terms of a small attendance (partially due to it being a Wednesday night with the weather somewhere between fall and winter). It's still taking time to adjust to shows starting on time at Rose (not a bad thing but after years of college/bar time show starts it'll take a bit of adjusting). Eventually it would be time to head on back to crash and prepare for work et al.

As for the vibe in Columbia itself, nearly a week later the threat of the Mizzou football team going on strike forced the resignation of MU President Tim Wolfe and chancellor C. Bowen Loftin, thus ending the hunger strike. However, there's still a bit of racial tension and a lot of work for Concerned Student 1950 to do (and a lot of ugly attitudes that are now in the open, even months after the strike). While the particulars of last November have subsided a little bit there's still a lot of work to do.

- Boone

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