Shy Boys Live at Mills
Local kid makes good stories are a dime a dozen anymore. Every city, town, and hamlet in this country undoubtedly has their own take on it. Sometimes there’s never any looking back; though frequently there’s the sobering crash-and-burn coupled with an about-face return home. Whatever version of it we’re familiar with, we all know the role and what it generally entails.
Despite their upstart in Kansas City, Shy Boys don’t fit into this role. An indispensable part of the above parable is an inscrutable work ethic. In most of those biographies, there will be a trope about “stretching too thin” or “bleeding dry” as the protagonist attempts to conquer present circumstances. And while the band’s infectious tunes of jangle pop have been well cultivated, they belie any sort of workmanlike, fussed-over approach.
Nestled into Mills Record Store, Shy Boys were mythbusters in the best way possible. Instead of pristine instruments, there were bass guitars with noticeable dings and uncooperative microphones. A small bottle of Jameson teetered near the edge of an amplifier. After one song, the subdued anthem “Keeps Me on My Toes”; they called an audible and added a friend from the crowd. Their three-man line-up switched spots more often than musical chairs. At another turn, frontman Collin Rausch sheepishly plugged their album, “we’ve got shit for sale.” In this narrative, they’re the guys content to throw on a record and drift to sleep on a weathered couch. But you wouldn’t be surprised if a sudden spark of inspiration hit them and they hightailed it to California.
Not that everything in their catalog casts out sunlight. The slow rippling “Submarine” is something Beach Boy Brian Wilson would’ve crafted post Smile breakdown. Even buried by snow drifts of reverb and fuzz, you still can hear Rausch’s jitters in the minor lilt of “And I Am Nervous”. The nervous fingers steadied though and ultimately launched into a final solo of blissful noise. Whatever act of the story it was, it proved why this is all worth telling.