GarageFest: Oblivians, Gories, Clean and more. Epic, Kansas - Reverb

Live review: Scion GarageFest @ various venues in Lawrence, Kan.

Ah, the Spits: At GarageFest in Lawrence, Kan., even the house shows are garaged-out. Photo by Joe McCabe, heyreverb.com

Ah, the Spits: At GarageFest in Lawrence, Kan., even the house shows are garaged-out. Photo by Joe McCabe, heyreverb.com

As we set out on a nine-hour drive to Lawrence, Kan., last Friday, there was doubt in our minds. In fact, we questioned our own sanity.

“Driving nine hours, each way, for a one-night music festival. Hmm. Is this smart?”

It wasn’t smart, but it was necessary given the festival bill. The Scion GarageFest featured 27 bands in four venues — including some pretty massive names in the garage rock world: The Oblivians, the Gories, the Clean and more. Some of the next-gen rockers were present as well, including the Raveonettes, King Khan & the Shrines, Tyvek, the Greenhornes, Best Coast, the Ponys, Thee Oh Sees and more.

The Cola Freaks from Denmark were one of many garage bands that came from all over to play the GarageFest on Saturday.

The Cola Freaks from Denmark were one of many garage bands that came from all over to play the GarageFest on Saturday.

So yeah. If you’re into garage, you realize how important a line-up this festival presented. Here are some random thoughts from the fractured brains of Reverb editors Ricardo Baca and John Hendrickson and Reverb shooter Joe McCabe.

Why I love garage rock: It’s primal and real, sweaty and loud. It doesn’t mess around. There are melodies in there, but they play second to the passion of the vocals and the volume of the instruments.

The coolest Greg: Garage lovers will tell you stories about Greg Cartwright. He founded the Oblivians, and he’s a father of modern American garage. I’ve seen him with the Reigning Sound before, but watching his original band was a dream fulfilled — an experience I never thought I’d enjoy, since they’d broken up years ago.

Because Mick doesn’t like you: Another band I never thought I’d see was the Gories, but they co-headlined this jaunt with the Oblivians and, oh, what a show it was. While it seemed clear from the crowd (two rows back!) that the band doesn’t get along much (Mick Collins included), the music sounded great. Blaring guitars and glaring looks? Hell yeah.

Best $15 spent: As Digital Leather finished its meh set, San Francisco band Hunx and His Punx were setting up their merch booth — which had T-shirts that sported the sweaty, hairy mid-section (pelvic region) of a dude in a zebra Speedo. The back of the shirt? The dude’s back side. Yeah, I bought one.

Cheers to Denver, Kansas: Who knew that half of Denver’s rock-loving community would populate the streets, clubs, theaters and pubs of Lawrence during GarageFest? We hung out with Dave from Wax Trax, and Mike and Jenn from Eyes and Ears. We threw down with with Chris of the Orangu-Tones and the Down-N-Outs, Yancey of the Bottle Rocket Scooter Club and Joel of A Band Named Sue. Mike of the Omens? Yep. The Hunt brothers, formerly of the Omens and formerly of Sputnik’s Bartending Hall of Fame? Double-yep. Remember Aaron Mersman, from the Hi-Dive? He’s living out there now. Chris from the 1190 crew was rolling with quality people. The Powderlies made the trip even more rock ‘n’ roll than it was. Matty from TaunTaun represented. James of Tennis and Tjutjuna flew straight from a Tennis gig in Nashville to make the show, and he was rolling around with Paul of Pacific Pride. Lots more good ‘n’ kind Colorado folk, too.

There was a lot more, sure. Thee Oh Sees were so great. The Clean are legends for a reason. Cola Freaks were spastic and fun. As we drove home on Sunday with an ill-advised stop at Taco Bueno, we knew we’d made the right call.

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Ricardo Baca is the founder and co-editor of Reverb and an award-winning critic and journalist at The Denver Post.

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  • Abc

    Thanks. Wish this had been held in Denver, ala Treblefest, back in the day. I REALLY wanted to do the 18 hour round trip but circumstances conspired against me.