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Summer Kamp Fest aims to keep the shine on KC punk scene

Frontline Attack, a veteran street-punk band from Dallas, reunited in 2014 for its 20th anniversary. It performs Saturday at Harling’s Upstairs.
Frontline Attack, a veteran street-punk band from Dallas, reunited in 2014 for its 20th anniversary. It performs Saturday at Harling’s Upstairs. FROM THE ARTIST

Like many of her allies in the local punk-rock scene, Britt Adair isn’t about to let one setback torpedo her mission.

When music venue Vandals closed in March, along with it went a place that had become a hive and a headquarters for punk bands and their fans.

“That broke my heart,” she said. “The vibe has changed. Now I don’t see everyone else as much as I used to.”

Vandals was launched in March 2014 by manager Michelle Wyssmann and Adair, who booked dozens of punk shows every month. Vandals also hosted two punk festivals, Center of the City and Summer Kamp Fest. Both festivals moved on. Center of the City held its three-day festival at Harling’s Upstairs on Main Street.

This weekend Adair will present the second annual Summer Kamp Fest at three venues: MiniBar and Harling’s Upstairs, both in midtown, and FOKL in Kansas City, Kan. The locale has changed, but the mission hasn’t.

“I tried to bring in different bands,” she said. “A couple of the bands (on the Summer Kamp bill) played Center of the City, but we kept the number of local bands down because people can see them other times. About half the lineup is local. The rest are bands with different sounds that will provide a different experience.”

Nearly two dozen bands will perform over three days. The lineup includes local stalwarts like Sister Mary Rotten Crotch and Red Kate, plus bands from around country: Fayetteville, Ark.; Carbondale, Ill.; Austin, Texas; Milwaukee; Nashville, Tenn.; Minneapolis; Dallas.

A few of the out-of-towners performed at last year’s inaugural Street Kamp Fest, including Thelma and the Sleaze, a sludgy, power-pop trio from Nashville. Some are playing Kansas City for the first time, including an old-school Dallas band.

“I’m really excited about getting Frontline Attack,” Adair said. “They got started back in 1994 and got a label and played with some really big bands. They got back together for a 20-year reunion last year. They’re a pretty well-known street punk band.”

Admission is $5 per venue. Friday’s show at the MiniBar, 3810 Broadway, starts at 7 p.m. It features nine bands. Saturday’s show at Harling’s Upstairs, 3941 Main St., also starts at 7 p.m. It features six bands, including Frontline Attack. Sunday’s show at FOKL, 556 Central Ave., is an all-ages show. It starts at 6 p.m. and features seven bands. Sets are 30 minutes followed by 15-minute breaks.

“I learned a few things from last year,” Adair said. “Don’t start too early. No one comes out to see rock ’n’ roll at 5 o’clock. So push back the start time and have fewer bands. And shorter sets.”

Last year’s festival at Vandals, which featured more than 30 bands and cost $10 per night, drew about 150 people each night. Adair is hoping for at least that this year.

“Harling’s can hold 300, so we’re hoping to get a lot of bodies in there,” she said. “But it’ll be different having it at three venues.”

In Vandals’ absence, MiniBar and Harling’s have stepped in and booked some punk shows. And the Union in Westport hosts a weekly free punk night on Mondays.

“They’re all good venues, and they’re all really open for booking shows, which is exciting,” Adair said. “So there’s a lot of players in the scene helping bands get shows.”

But …

“But it’s not the same,” she said. “Those places all host really cool events, but they aren’t the meeting place like Vandals was. We started something that bands could really rely on. Things aren’t as connected as they were then, but we want to keep that momentum going.”

A dedicated all-ages place in Kansas City would help the punk community, Adair said. In the meantime, she and others are booking more house concerts, hoping there’s some truth to one of a few rumors of another punk venue opening up and finding other ways to stoke the spirit that Vandals started.

“I want next year’s (Summer Kamp) festival to be bigger and bring in bands from the East and West coasts,” she said. “I’d love to play a part in the next venue that might open. I know it can work.”

To reach Timothy Finn, call 816-234-4781 or send email to Follow the Back to Rockville blog on Twitter @kcstarrockville.

Summer Kamp schedule

The second annual three-day Summer Kamp Fest starts Friday night. All sets are 30 minutes followed by 15-minute breaks. Admission is $5 at each venue.

Friday at MiniBar, 3810 Broadway

First set at 7 p.m.: Braindead; Rat Brats; Lovecraft; Reacharounds; Slugs; Assault and Battery; Concrete; Sister Mary Rotten Crotch; Drugs & Addicts.

Saturday at Harling’s Upstairs, 3941 Main St.

First set at 7 p.m.: The Uncouth; Red Kate; Bad Taste; Thelma & the Sleaze; Faultfinder; Frontline Attack.

Sunday at FOKL, 556 Central Ave., Kansas City, Kan.

First set at 6 p.m. This is an all-ages venue: Chasm; Oaks; Bad Boyfriends; Wick & the Tricks; RadRadRiot; Dishpit; Drop a Grand.