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Twisted Xmas unravels at the Midland

Radio station 98.9 The Rock gave listeners a metallic stocking stuffer at the Midland theater on Thursday.

An audience of about 2,000 took advantage of $10 tickets to witness performances by four hard rock bands. Much like a cheap trinket intended to provide a momentary diversion, the concert was mildly entertaining and eminently forgettable.

Pop Evil, the headliners of the station’s annual Twisted Xmas concert, caters to rock fans nostalgic for the 1990s. The sturdy quintet from Michigan released its first major label album in 2008, but its sound remains rooted in the previous decade.

Pop Evil opened its 60-minute set with the diluted grunge of “Deal with the Devil.” The band recalled despairing nu metal during “Torn to Pieces” and hair metal on “100 in a 55.” Vocalist Leigh Kakaty was accompanied by a prerecorded backing track for a pleasing rendition of “Beautiful.” The power ballad provided the evening’s only tender moments.

Nothing More was far less drab. The band’s abrasive sound combines arty aspects of punk with intelligent components of heavy metal. The most engaging band of the evening, the quartet from Texas featured the shirtless frontman Jonny Hawkins. He prowled the stage like a wayward son of Iggy Pop. Nothing More’s theatrical flair was applied to a guitar solo, transforming the rote concert ritual into an elaborate magic trick.

The band has performed regularly in Kansas City and Lawrence since its inception in 2003, but Thursday’s show was almost certainly Nothing More’s most momentous appearance in the area.

The Las Vegas band Otherwise was far less impressive. Their cliched posturing and leaden performance resembled the first rehearsal of a Nickelback cover band. Not even a brief appearance by Kansas City rap star Tech N9ne redeemed Otherwise’s excruciatingly pedestrian outing.

Islander, a quartet from South Carolina, opened the lengthy concert with 30 minutes of adequate groove-based metal. Mikey Carvajal occasionally sang while balancing on the hands and shoulders of fans. The most memorable crowd-surfing of the night, however, was done by a belligerent man dressed in a Santa costume. He was unceremoniously escorted from the venue when his escapade turned ugly.

The man is unlikely to recall what transpired at the Midland. He’s not alone. Even the most attentive members of Thursday’s audience are likely to soon forget about the unmemorable concert.


Deal with the Devil, Flawed, Hero, Behind Closed Doors, Divide, Somebody Like You, 100 in a 55, Monster You Made, Beautiful, Boss’s Daughter, Last Man Standing, Goodbye My Friend, Sick Sense, Torn to Pieces, Trenches