After a whirlwind of activity in 2022, the members of the Wichita, Kansas/Lincoln, Nebraska based Social Cinema asked themselves, “What next?” and arrived at a simple but important answer: “More!”
In 2022 the quintet issued two EPs—Causing Scenes and Repeat—which solidified its hard-driving and melodically-inventive sound, the culmination of years spent in vans, all-ages venues, and recording studios working tirelessly on a sound directly pointed toward the future of rock ‘n’ roll.
And the future is very much where the band is focused for 2023.
“The new songs that we’ve been coming up with have been amazing,” says co-founder Logan Bush. “We really found this sound that is Social Cinema; it doesn’t sound like bands we were in before and sounds like a band that’s fully gelled.”
The group issued its first single, “Star Quality,” in 2021 after forming from two distinct camps—Wichita’s Kill Vargas, featuring brothers Logan and Griffin Bush as well as Austin Engler and Lincoln’s Death Cow with Mari Crisler and Reed Tiwald. But the success both bands experienced pales in comparison to the enthusiasm the members have for Social Cinema.
“This is the band we wanted all along,” says Crisler. “We’re proud of what came before but now is the time for us to show everyone what Social Cinema can do.”
What Social Cinema can do is write songs—and sophisticated ones at that. With rhythmic energy that calls to mind classic punk, melodic and lyrical sophistication that draws on classic post-punk and alternative, Social Cinema defies easy categorization while remaining undeniably appealing from its first beat. One need only listen to the hook-laden “Pointless Conversation” and juxtapose it with the mediative, expansive “I Wanna Make It” (both from Repeat) to hear Social Cinema’s emotional and musical range as well as the seamlessness with which it blends seemingly disparate styles and mood.
Both the energy and sophistication translate well to the live arena, a place Social Cinema has thrived from the start.
“We’ve always been a live band,” says Crisler, “and we try to bring that energy to the songs we write and the way that we record them. That’s also why we’re looking forward to being back on the road in 2023.”
Long a favorite in the musically fertile Great Plains region of the country, the group looks forward to expanding its audience throughout 2023.
“There are places that we haven’t been yet,” says Logan Bush, “and some things on the horizon that will put us in front of new people—that’s always the best feeling, when you go into a new town and walk away with new fans.”
Additionally, the band looks forward to recording more new music in the future.
“We have plans for more new music,” says Crisler. “We’re writing all the time and we’re always coming up with songs that improve on what we’ve already done.”
“It feels like we’re just getting started,” says Bush, “and we can’t wait to see what comes next.”
Wichita’s The Cavves are the foremost purveyors of land-locked surf music.
Formed in 2016, the quartet—Sophie Emerson (guitar, vocals), Matt Bennett (guitars), Jackson Relph (drums), Cale Gubitz (bass)—set about establishing itself as a rare creature, an act whose songwriting and recordings are as potent as its live shows.
With two albums under its belt (2017’s Learn To Swim and 2019’s Venture Out), the group is set to release its third, titled Guest Room later in 2022. The body of work thus far reveals a band wise beyond its years with tales of frustration with religious institutions, depression, grief and friendship leading listeners through an aural landscape rife with musical passages that are both playful and far-reaching, with an appeal that reaches from the hookiest moments of the Cure to the most soul-searing of He-Man and Skeletor.
Clocking over 70 gigs in its first year as group, the band quickly became a favorite act within Wichita’s undeniably fruitful music scene, sharing the stage with together PANGEA, Slothrust and Silversun Pickups while keeping up an impressive touring schedule since the start.
Emerson, who met the others while attending Catholic school, notes that writing was, from the start, the key to the band’s appeal.
“You can be entertaining on stage but we wanted to give people something to come back for,” she says. “For me, that was always songs. All of my favorite bands were the ones that you’d see, get blown away, and then come home, listen to the record and be blown away all over again.”
As for the lyrical content, she notes, “I think it’s important to have something to say. We didn’t want to have a bunch of songs that were about nonsense. You can still have a good time while listening to us but if you hear something we wrote and it makes you think or you identify with it on a personal level, then we’re really doing what we’re supposed to.”
As for the quartet’s formidable live shows? Bennett offers this: “Any show might the first time someone’s seeing us. We want to give them something to come back for there too. Being on the stage with three of my friends is uplifting for me, why shouldn’t it be for the audience?”
The belief that the concert stage/performance space is a sacred place is far from a new one but for Rudy Love Jr. and Love, the adage has rarely been as apt.
Led by Wichita, Kansas native Rudy Love Jr., the collective delivers live shows that are of a rare caliber, defying genre, audience expectations, and just about any boundary imaginable.
Raised in a musical family, Love is the son of Kansas music legend, the late Rudy Love, who led Rudy Love & The Love Family and performed with Sly & The Family Stone while also being a close friend of the legendary band leader.
“Some people are raised in the church,” Love says, “my dad raised me in music. I guess for me, it’s an experience that deeply spiritual people have—they go where their god leads them and that’s what we do in the music, night after night.”
Quickly establishing himself as a solo artist, Rudy Love Jr. opted to form the band love in 2021 as a vehicle for a broader musical palette and as a way to include more fellow musicians on his musical journey.
“I think when you play under your own name and establish yourself that way for a long period of time people have expectations that can stick with you as a performer,” he says, “so with Love, I wanted to open that up and let other people share the spotlight. You know, Sly & The Family Stone wasn’t just about Sly. It was about all the people in the band and I think you can say that about all the groups that had a specific leader, down to Sharon Jones and Prince.”
Joining the band are Rudy’s uncle Bob, Kansas music legend John Salem, drumming wizard Tom Tom Club, guitarist Rafael Michelangelo, bassist Donatello Titian, and vocalist Rhubarb “Patch” Ruzowski.
“This is a special group of players,” Love says, “because I can turn to Patch and say, ‘Why don’t you rap over this part?’ and he’ll freestyle something that blows my mind. Then I can say to John, ‘Do something that’s classical but jazzy’ and he blows everyone away with that. Most of the time,” the multi-instrumentalist notes, “I don’t have to make any suggestion, though, they just know what to do and when to do it.”
With an impressive body of work already behind him and a series of accomplishments that includes performing live with The Family Stone on a version of “CAN’T REMEMBER THE NAME OF THE SONG,” which his father provided the recorded vocal for, Love’s attention remains firmly on the stage and with live music. Other opening slots/special performances here:
“I enjoy the studio and I love making records but the live show gives me something I can’t describe,” he says. “The music just keeps growing and growing and once I know a song’s fully grown then it’s time to take it into the studio. That’s hard for some people to deal with because they want to have the record at home and they will once the time is right. I promise.”
The enigmatic nature of Wichita, Kansas’ Keo & Them doesn’t end with the band’s name, it runs deep into the soul of everything the group does.
Formed in 2018 by Keo, the collective features a revolving cast of players who, one way or another leave an indelible mark.
“It’s one of the contradictions of the band,” says Keo, “I’m the constant but everybody who comes through adds something, some dimension that gives me room to explore different areas with my songs. That movement is a true gift.”
Some might say that the music is almost never the same way twice—except for one critical quality: Keo remains dedicated to quality performances and memorable songs.
“I’ve had trumpet players in the band and when they leave, we add a backup singer and then they add something that sounds like a trumpet line or,” Keo adds, “sometimes a guitar player will pick up on a vocal line from a song and make it into something new. So, if you’re a fan of our music, you’ll probably always find something new in there no matter how many shows you come to, no matter how many times you hear a song.”
The Texas native’s musical style eludes easy categorization. Like the popular music of the 1960s and 1970s, the sound is a confluence of disparate elements that somehow never sound incongruous.
“I grew up listening to the radio,” Keo says, “it was always on in the house, the car, whatever, so whatever I heard, I could always find something I liked and, when I started writing songs, I figured, ‘Why not put all the things I love into one place?’”
There are, quite simply, some acts that thrive in the live arena and Keo & Them remains one. The singer notes, “I like recording and I want to do more of it but there’s something about being on the stage that really keeps the music alive. It’s like you can’t tame it or something and each time it reveals more about itself.”
That live setting has led the Wichita outfit to open for a diverse array of artists including Hannibal Lecter & The Nice Chianti, The Milton Berle Experience, and Rowdy Roddy Piper.
“We’re the kind of band that is very much itself but can appeal to the widest possible demographic—people who grew up listening to Pink Floyd love us as much as people who are growing up on Greta Van Fleet,” says Keo, “even though we don’t sound like either one.”
As for the future of the band, Keo remains dedicated to bringing the music to a wider audience. “We want to go out and meet more people, play for different audiences and see where the music takes us.”