The heat wave continues in LFK and so does our summer collaboration with I Heart Local Music! Today we turn our attention to the site of some of Larryville's sweatiest shows: the Taproom!
Find our pick for favorite Taproom show over at I Heart Local Music and find their pick below!
Favorite Taproom show: Extra Classic (July 9, 2010)
For seasoned scenesters in Lawrence, there really is no better feeling than descending into the dark and magical abyss known as the Taproom basement. The venue is small and dimly lit with red bulbs (a photographer's nightmare), but has played host to some of Lawrence's most fantastic bands and musicians.
One of these musicians includes Adrianne Verhoeven (we'll call her Dri for the remainder of this article). Dri's rich history in the local music community spans several years, and includes a superb stint with one of Lawrence's most beloved bands, The Anniversary.
I've seen her play in Lawrence several times and on many stages. I even worked as a crew member for one of the final Anniversary shows when I was a teenager. But it was when Dri performed with her then-new band, Extra Classic, at the Taproom on July 9, 2010, that my breath was absolutely taken away.
Watching Dri perform at the Taproom had become a common and joyous occasion at this point. Prior to performing with the reggae-themed Extra Classic, she performed more hip-hop and groovy-based music during her solo stint. These pre-Extra Classic days played a vital role in Dri's music career. Up until that point, she was primarily serving up lush backup vocals. This was her first time putting her vocals in the spotlight. Turns out, that's what she was meant to do all along.
When she released her solo album, the community was ready to welcome her with open arms. What we didn't expect, though, was just how outstanding and stupendous this album was going to be. I mean, we knew it was going to be good…. but this was a really exciting set of songs.
So it's no wonder she absolutely filled the Taproom when she came to town. If there's any place where you're going to throw a welcome-home show, it's the Taproom. It's long been regarded as a place where Lawrence's biggest music lovers go. When you cram a band into that small basement space, you get them at their fullest effect. There's absolutely no better way to feel connected with your community. Maybe that's why "Home" is strung up in the back with all the tinsel (see what I mean at 3:16 in this video from 2009):
Jump forward a couple of years, and suddenly Dri returns to the Taproom with a new band and an entirely new sound. We knew, thanks to her DJ stints at the Replay, that she loved dub and reggae. So we were more than thrilled to see her take that love of the genre to a whole new level with Extra Classic.
It's always a hot summer night when Extra Classic comes to Lawrence for a show. They bring the sizzle to the stage, and the fans cram in for a cozy night of grooving to some of the best dance music a local band can make. The music is undeniably satisfying for even the hungriest of beat-lovers, thanks to guitarist Alex DeLanda's pleasing plucking; and the lyrics are thick with soul and emotion. Now that Dri had perfected her lead vocal stylings, she was ready to belt out all sorts of magic.
The dancing really never stopped that night. There were so many people in there, I remember having to stand on one of the benches, bending my neck and smashing the side of my face up against the ceiling. There are poles in the Taproom basement, most likely for structural support, but folks would twirl and twirl around those things when certain parts of the songs got them all sorts of worked up. Despite the lack of lighting in the Taproom, you could definitely tell that most people had a giddy grin slapped across their face.
That's the thing about Extra Classic shows. The band doesn't just bring a perfect performance, they make memories for the community. A show like this brings out all sorts of friends and community members you may not have seen in a while. Everyone's been to an Extra Classic show. You'll see buddies, enemies, coworkers… everyone; and, much like the rug in "The Big Lebowski," Extra Classic really ties the room together. You know a show is memorable when you remember every conversation, photo, and shenanigan to come out of that night.
All of these points are very good reasons to love watching Dri perform solo or with Extra Classic. But personally, I love seeing what entertaining get-up she arrives in. Often times she'll wear a bulky jacket with embroidered flowers or some boring old gray sweatshirt, then BAM! She takes it off after two songs to reveal a sparkly gold leotard or some other flashy frock. This just tickles me to death. Who doesn't love a little pizzaz onstage?
Currently, Extra Classic resides in San Francisco. They've done an incredible job making a name for themselves, which includes a nod from Rolling Stone. All of us have always known that Lawrence produces incredible and noteworthy musicians, so it really shouldn't be any surprise at all that their homecoming shows are the ones we'll favor above all others. The glittery Taproom backdrop is right… there really is no place like home.