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The Henry Clay People

Show review: O, Giant Man at The Riot Room, 7.16.12

Here’s the thing about The Riot Room; it is loud. Always and without fail. This is as constant as the Northern Star. In fact, if Las Vegas were to handicap the betting odds on the room being flooded by noise, the percentages would linger at 100%. This is always a safe bet regardless of who is playing. An alternative country band from Raleigh; maxed. A metal band from the suburbs of the gates of hell; if it is too loud, you’re too old. Spinal Tap; cranked to 11.

There is no getting around it. However, sometimes there is also no excuse for it. Watching O, Giant Man open for The Henry Clay People, this principle was never more relevant. The group’s fidgety sound is best served wrapped in complex layers and complicated shifts. The group flutters throughout styles, touching on multiple approaches to writing throughout the set. A sparkling Rhodes organ will bleed through for a moment, meshed with the band’s controlled chaos, before subsiding and surrendering to a room full of drums. The organized clutter is thick and tricky in its ability to fool listeners into determining if it is actually planned. The casual observer might even assume the set list and the collection of tunes were an act of improvisation. However, broken down it is clear that O, Giant Man has meticulously constructed not only a set of tunes, but has managed to arrange them in a way that the evening becomes one long, flawless track. Each song is intentionally placed before the next and sown together with a cross stitch creating a warm, inviting quilt of songs.

Yes, watching O, Giant Man is like staying the night at your Grandma’s house. And who doesn’t love their Grandma? Nazis. That’s who.

What was I saying? Oh, yeah. Group frontman Christopher Robbins guides his group through their set like a ship’s captain guides his crew. Throughout the night his eyes dart around the stage as he intently directs traffic and shoves his band through the crosshairs to the intended destination. Yet simultaneously, he also manages to make his guidance look as effortless as listening to a GPS. "Turn left here." Wham! Hit single.

It is important however to remember that the crew behind Robbins is as talented as he is. There is no denying that they are the real deal once you’ve heard them play. Their structure, which is unique to the Kansas City area, sets them apart from the sometimes incestuous music scene, often complicated by having the same signature sound in every band. There is something rather fresh about the way O, Giant Man is an island unto itself.

However that island holds something for all types of vacationers. Swirling guitars and harmonic vocals are both in check. At any given time the band can shift from dance-friendly indie pop to a straight rock sound that will knock your teeth out. Sometimes, I can hear The Clash, then suddenly I think I’m listening to Ryan Adams. Then vocally, I would swear they were Counting Crows. However, regardless of what the shifting sounds, I expect big things from O, Giant Man. I’ll be disappointed with Kansas City and the world if they offer this extremely talented band anything less.

-Joshua Hammond

After stints drumming for both The Afternoons and Jenny Carr and the Waiting List in the Lawrence/Kansas City music scene, Joshua Hammond found his footing as a music journalist, launching the national publication Popwreckoning. After running the show as Editor in Chief for 6 years, Hammond stepped away from the reigns to freelance for other publications like Under The Gun Review and High Voltage Magazine. This shift allowed the adequate amount of time for him to write passionately, allow the Kansas City Royals to break his heart on a daily basis and spoon his cats just enough that they don't shred his vinyl. 


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