Loaded In Lawrence - "live from the bottleneck"
Pipeline Productions

From 1993 to 1995, Loaded In Lawrence was an annual event, as was the release of the album recorded at the shows. The idea behind the whole production was to showcase the best in local music.

Pipeline Productions has revived that tradition, and has partially succeeded. They've got the show and the disc. As far as showcasing the best in local music, they've got a ways to go.

I understand that bands like the Get Up Kids, the Anniversary, Ultimate Fakebook, and the Appleseed Cast -- the heavy hitters -- were all out of town during the dates of the performances.

However, the other bands that were left out are somewhat surprising. No Creature Comforts or mi6? Two of Lawrence's more "name" acts being left out is rather surprising, given the inclusion of two bands from Kansas City, Full Feature and Last of the V8s, one from Manhattan, Ruskabank, and two that rarely play the area at all, Fifth Ticket Fraud and the Jesse Jackson 5. The exclusion of any hip-hop, such as Mac Lethal, Approach or Archetype is also confusing, given the way that genre has blown up in the past year.

The recording quality of Loaded In Lawrence is surprising. There's a low-key hum that runs throughout the entire disc and is quite noticeable on some of the quieter portions of the disc, such as the start of Brent Berry & the Roots Crew's "Back to England." The whole thing sounds remarkably underproduced, with some vocals being incredibly difficult to hear, especially on the louder tracks, like Truth Cell's "Evolution" and Last of the V8s' "Drunk Again."

The number of bands to record each night might have lead to some of the problems, but the MidWest Regional Aggressive Music Fest had nearly twice as many bands on its second day. You can go to lifefrombeyond.com and hear streaming sets of the bands that played, and each and every one of them sounds superior to this recording, even sans mastering. The only exception to this is the Jesse Jackson 5's track, "Solar System," which sounds as if was taken from another set of recordings entirely.

Loaded In Lawrence 2002 is a decent basic introduction to the Lawrence music scene, but the chances of it being afforded the same sort of reverence and recognition given its predecessors is fairly slim. Perhaps a second go-'round in 2003 would result in a better product.