Radkey needed this show; they really did. Not because they needed money or wanted to sell some merch but because it was a marker of how far they have come. They could gauge this with crowds at RiotFest or record sales in England but really the only measuring stick is here where they have a history; in their hometown of St. Joseph, Missouri.
This show ended a long 10 month period where the three brothers didn’t play outside their house in St. Joseph but they did plenty of other shows. They have went on small tours, went to England and SXSW and played huge festivals. They are now even in regular rotation on a local radio station (96.5 The Buzz in Kansas City) and are on the covers of magazines and are receiving tons of attention from the media. So why did they need this? Because at their last show at this very venue, roughly a year ago, nobody showed up. It’s true, Vocals On Top covered it here: https://vocalsontop.com/2012/10/28/concert-review-radkey-benkirkland-at-the-rendezvous-bar-102612/
The fall 2013 version of Radkey saw a much different crowd than that night and even with quite a few imports from the Kansas City area; St. Joseph finally showed its support for Radkey. The local paper would preach that it would be the group’s last show in the area for a long time, over and over again, the message was hammered into the concergoers of St. Joseph: this show was important. There was a desperation by some saying Radkey wouldn’t come back if this show didn’t go well, it may all be true but Radkey still needed this show worse than their hometown did. St. Joseph proved it was glad to have them and I think a similar reaction awaits Radkey here if they were to play here again next month. It is like an awkward breakup where each side is now happy for one another as they walk their separate ways.
“I think we should see other people… but for tonight let’s just forget the past and have fun.”
“I’ll ignore those things you said about us if you forget about that time we stood you up.”
It seemed like a good deal. I love it when a story has a happy ending.
Coming up from Kansas City to open for Radkey was another band that was no stranger to St. Joseph; Maps For Travelers. They are a much different band sonically as the pace tends not be as fast as Radkey but the music has a much heavier sound. The Marshall stacks and screaming guitars would often overpower the vocals in the small venue. A trumpet would even be used occasionally during some of the slower moments of the set.The group’s music would fit right in with the heavier Saddle Creek bands like Cursive and The Desaparecidos.
The group would be supporting their newly released album “Change Your Name” and would be hitting it hard. The record was released by a west coast label and set up at the merch table alongside Radkey’s own booth. They would even launch a preemptive attack on Radkey by stealing their usual stage banter on a couple songs. This resulted in hearty laughs by most of the crowd who if they had seen Radkey live before; had also heard the stage banter. They would introduce a couple songs with Radkey song titles; stealing “Little Man” and “Pretty Things” intros from the headlining act.
Radkey would take the stage to their best reception ever in St. Joseph and the band would be visibly pleased. After a short soundcheck with bassist Isaiah Radke singing “Whiskey Bar” to get the levels right, the show would start with one of Radkey’s many songs that is as fast paced as can be without getting into “freak out” mode with “Out Here In My Head.”
It would be all smiles from the crowd and the band as they would tear through older songs like “Mind Ride” and “Is He Alright?” alongside several new songs like the soon to be released “Romance Dawn” and “Start Freaking Out.” “Is He Alright?” is a nice pace breaker during Radkey’s set as it may not be one of their strongest songs but it is necessary to keep their group of songs from getting monotonous, this night’s version even sounded slower than it had in the past. The brothers would honor a request for the seldom played “Spirals” which was released as a 7″ earlier this year before moving into “Start Freaking Out” which was easily the better of their two newer songs despite the other, “Romance Dawn,” being a single.
They would thank The Buzz for playing “Cat & Mouse” and letting everybody know the song as it is a centerpiece of their set now and always incites the crowd to croon along. Their most catchy song is still “N.I.G.G.A.” and I still feel strange singing along to it but it is easily their most irresistible hook. The last song of their main set would be “Romance Dawn” which is their current single but at 4 and a half minutes stretches on a little long and doesn’t have the punky hooks that many of their other songs do.
They would follow with an encore consisting of three covers, the first of which being their most commonly covered song in Outkast’s “Hey Ya” and it was followed by one of the first songs the band was playing live, a cover of the theme song for “Teen Titans” that Radkey has owned and put their signature on and it was great to see it back in their set. They would then show their obvious love for the Ramones to end the show by playing the classic “Bonzo Goes To Bitburg.”
Radkey finally got the reception they wanted in St. Joseph and their hometown got to see their estranged sons that have wandered so far from home. The tension between the band and city doesn’t feel as strong now and Radkey will move off to do bigger and better things. The city won’t be suffering much without them; with bands like Scruffy & The Janitors, Missouri Homegrown, The Souveneers, Dsoedean, Jerkface,Eyelit and The GasTown Lamps there is still an abundance of talent here; probably more than we deserve but we are lucky to have it. Now maybe it won’t be awkward when we see Radkey in the supermarket or playing to a new city that loves them; if you see them say hello for us. The next order of business is getting to the next Scruffy & The Janitors show now.
Radkey setlist from The Rendezvous in St. Joseph, MO on 9/20/13:
- Out Here in My Head
- Mind Ride
- Is He Alright?
- Little Man
- Start Freaking Out
- Cat & Mouse
- Red Letter
- Romance Dawn
- Hey Ya (Outkast cover)
- Teen Titans (Puffy Ami Yumi cover)
- Bonzo Goes To Bitburg (Ramones cover)