An amusing quip by Matt Roth of the delightful pop-punk duo Schwervon was prophetic at the Zombie Pub Crawl on Saturday.
“The crowd’s a little dead,” he said.
Roth was probably referring to the handful of people on the patio of the Riot Room who were costumed as zombies during the first of about 30 performances at several Westport and midtown venues at the one-day festival. Yet the ambitious event was plagued by woeful attendance that resulted in many notable acts playing for startlingly meager audiences.
The initial Kansas City foray of the Zombie Pub Crawl, which was founded in Minneapolis in 2005, was a mixed bag. Excellent performances and the enthusiasm of revelers were offset by occasional disorganization and disappointing turnout.
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Tech N9ne, the fearsome Kansas City rapper with a longstanding obsession with the supernatural, was the obvious choice to headline the event. On a day in which scheduled set times were often treated as mere suggestions, Tech N9ne was punctual.
The audience of about 1,000 that witnessed Tech N9ne’s slightly condensed 70-minute outing was less than half the size of the crowd that saw him perform at the Midland theater in June. While Tech N9ne’s effort wasn’t lacking, the limitations of the temporary venue that housed the festival’s primary stage tainted his effort.
The dimly lit site at the northwest corner of Broadway Boulevard and Valentine Road resembled the set of a zombie film. Unfortunately, the exposed concrete floor and ceiling resulted in truly horrific sound.
The laughably artless raps of 2 Live Crew were also muddled in the cavernous space. After a delay of more than 75 minutes, the sketchy performance by the notoriously crude act from Florida was salvaged by the colorful dancing of the members of the audience who had been invited to the stage.
Peanut Butter Wolf, the founder of Stones Throw Records, also ran behind schedule. The Californian who has repeatedly influenced the course of hip-hop and pop remixed vintage raps for about three dozen people at an outdoor stage in Westport.
Other highlights: Turbogeist, a surly London-based quartet that includes the son of rock legend Mick Jagger and model Jerry Hall, entertained a few dozen people on the Riot Room’s patio.
Inside the Riot Room, Ten Thousand One was one of several locally based bands that played satisfying variations of heavy metal. The members of Kansas City punk band Six Percent reflected the playfully macabre spirit of the event with gruesome matching zombie costumes.
The flaws of the inaugural Kansas City edition of the Zombie Pub Crawl can be remedied. The musical showcase dedicated to the undead doesn’t deserve to die.