Friday’s show at the RecordBar was a homecoming for the headliner and a show of gratitude for the crowd that filled the place.
Radkey, the trio of brothers from St. Joseph, headlined the bill featuring three local bands, and by the end of its set, the multi-generational crowd of 250 or so was indulging exuberantly in some dancing (on stage), crowd-surfing, hand-clapping, fist-pumping and sing-alongs, not the kind of behavior you typically see in Kansas City’s hipster-/indie-music shrine.
After lively opening sets by Stiff Middle Fingers (classic-punk covers) and the masked and masqueraded Drop a Grand, brothers Dee, Isaiah and Solomon Radke took the stage and unleashed their take on punk, a sound that recalls the Misfits (thanks in large part to Dee Radke’s sinister baritone lead vocals) with other influences, including classic rock and grunge. It was their first Kansas City show since late September, and the crowd was primed for it.
This has been an exceptionally — almost preposterously — successful year for Radkey. The band has toured relentlessly, across the U.S. and abroad, and received a glut of media attention, nationally and internationally. Highlights include performances at the Riot Fest in Chicago, the Download Festival in England and on the BBC 2 show “Later ... With Jools Holland” and praise and acclaim in The New York Times, USA Today and Interview, the Atlantic and Spin magazines.
All that attention hasn’t affected the brothers much; they’re still as humble and unfazed as ever; and the roadwork has done them a world of good, adding some muscle and luster to a live show that has always been entertaining but is becoming as refined as it is fierce and gritty.
Drawing from a catalog that comprises two EPs and a 7-inch, the band delivered a hourlong set of songs, most of with which its loyal fans are well-acquainted: “Out Here in My Head,” the incendiary number they performed on “Jools Holland”; “Little Man,” a song about family dysfunction; “Cat and Mouse,” the song and accompanying video that helped vault them into the national spotlight; and the propulsive “Romance Dawn,” which incited a hearty call-and-response throughout.
Two of the set’s highlights were covers: of the Misfits “Last Caress,” which started another sing-along, and — the best moment of the show — a torrid punk-meets-funk rendition of OutKast’s “Hey, Ya!” Throughout the set, the brothers, primarily Isaiah, stoked the mood with some levity and humor (including a randy comment about the new “Hobbit” movie).
There was plenty of crowd participation, too — shows of mutual appreciation between a band and its fans. Six or seven women joined the band on stage during one song to act as background dancers. That was about the time Isaiah crowd-surfed on his back from the stage to the soundboard and back.
Before the show, Matt Radke, the brothers’ father, said the band will tour until close to Christmas, then take some extended time off to write more songs and prepare for the release of a full length sometime in 2014. That’s all good news. At this point, the only thing this locomotive is lacking is enough material to keep a sold-out room engaged for more than a quick 60 minutes.