Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Witch's Hat

I finally had the opportunity to hear a band I have wanted to hear for a long time. The theatrical rock (somewhat like Queen) quartet Witch's Hat has been around in Columbia, MO and vicinity for a couple of years now, but even though they have played Chicago, Omaha, St Louis and even Dubuque for God sake, they have not made it to Kansas City. The closest they have been was last night (6/20) at the funky Replay Lounge in Lawrence, KS. Lawrence is an island of progressive thought and culture in the vast wasteland that is Kansas. Therefore it is fitting that they would host Witch's Hat first local performance.

So, Barb, Jeff, Ross, our new friend Yohan visiting from Venezuela and I got in the venerable Queen Mary and motored off to catch Witch's Hat.

A small bar with a large patio, Replay is far from an ideal location to hear a band. but Witch's Hat made it work. Unfortunately they played only a short set that only whetted my appetite to hear more. Their lyrics celebrate such things as dragon slayers, androgynous aliens, a Moldovan Vampire and a time-traveling dinosaur called Rockasaurus. Full of boisterous energy and solid musicianship, Witch's Hat is as much fun to see as to hear. As was noted their lyrics tell a story, take you on a journey and are refreshingly literate and interesting. Their theatrics never get in the way, even when wildly over the top. But that is the way they want it. The crowd at Replay, never having heard the band before, responded with genuine enthusiasm.

Greg Linde is the lead singer and really enjoys belting out the songs. Again, refreshingly, you can even understand them. The other members, on guitar and bass and drums provide a high energy, solid support.

The star is Bert on drums. Always wired and always ready to rock, his beat is solid and driving without being overbearing. He can make the drums whisper and accentuate a point of the lyrics and just as easily drive the song home with enough power to light the night. Bert was born to play drums, as I can attest since I have known him for a looooooooooong time! (OK, this review is written by Bert's (not his real name thankfully) dad, so it is prejudiced, OK??)

More than just superficial theatrics by college kids, Witch’s Hat has the potential to become the real thing. Witch’s Hat always puts their audience in a party mode and makes each show a little different by incorporating guest musicians or giving performances with themes. You also can't miss the jingle for the energy drink Bacchus-F and the free samples they pass to the crowd. Worth the show.

We thoroughly enjoyed the show and a copy of their CD "Mastery of the Steel" is headed to Venezuela. Their website (under construction due to a recent personnel change in the band) has samples of the songs and links to more info on the group.

You have to check these guys out who are for sure a cut above most of the bands out there either in Columbia or elsewhere. Fun, intelligent, energetic and most of all down to earth, Witch’s Hat loves what they do and their performances show it.

Catch them when you can.

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