New Years concert rocks Kansas City

Nicole Stormann

New Years Eve brings many thoughts to mind. Most include partying long after the ball drops and activities that will, at the least, require a designated driver by the end of the night. Considering I am both underage and harbored absolutely no desire to spend my first moments of 2009 inebriated, I opted for another plan.

The Mainstreet Cafe in downtown Kansas City, Mo., hosted a New Years Eve concert with five local bands in an effort to promote a positive, alcohol-free environment. The docket included Progress in Color, In Motion, Auburn Skies, Sleep Dreamer, and the headliner, Vedera.

We missed Progress in Color’s performance, and came in just as In Motion started. Their sound was a commendable knockoff of Death Cab for Cutie, which I love, but their monotonous set list wore thin after the first few songs. Auburn Skies’ members were energetic and fun to watch, but looked like they were 14 years old. Probably because they were. They weren’t bad, just unremarkable in the way that they’re fine the first time you hear them but wouldn’t think of actually spending four bucks on their homemade demo.

Finally, there was a break in the show. I grabbed some refreshments from the cafe and Olathe natives Sleep Dreamer took the stage. Now here was some music worthy of sound waves. The piano-driven melodies, raw, thoughtful lyrics and the animated performance were enough to make me swoon. The vocals of lead singer John McFarlane can serenade me any day. I bought their EP “Mariana,” and let me just say one word: brilliant.

With only minutes until midnight, Kansas City’s Vedera, who are currently touring with The Fray, led us into 2009. Vocalist/guitarist Kristen May takes a stand for female lead singers everywhere, showing that just because she’s a girl singer, it isn’t a girl band. Vedera has the ability to mesh surprisingly poignant lyrics with head-bobbing guitar riffs and, in my opinion, performed even better live than in recordings. Her vocal range alone is cause for applause, but it’s her strong choruses that make Vedera memorable.

It was a climactic night leading up to two very talented bands worthy of my $12 admission charge. It’s an awesome feeling to find real local talent, even if it is few and far between. Check out their Myspace profiles for information about shows. Get out and support your local bands!