Music Review: Midwestern Death a group with something to say

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-112672389232051.jpg’, ‘Photo by Emily Klonicki’, ‘Midwestern Death perform at Kryptonite Sept. 10. Band members are, from left, Jason Judd, Jeremy Klonicki (behind drum set), Dave Pedersen and Marieke McClendon (bottom image).’);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-112672391224402.jpg’, ‘Photo by Emily Klonicki’, ”);

Midwestern Death sprang to life Saturday, Sept. 10, bringing its jamming-twang mix of rock, rockabilly and alt-country to the stage at Kryptonite.

In just its second live performance, the group unassumingly took the stage at 9:30 p.m. As with any opening act in Rockford, the band was charged with awakening an anxious crowd from its early evening stupor. By the end of the first song, the small crowd was on its feet.

Watching any band in its second-ever live performance is a little like watching a 1-year-old take its first steps. But in this case, it’s a very capable 1-year-old.

The drumming of Jeremy Klonicki (February Stars Union, Three Legged Cats) and bass of Marieke McClendon (The Poptarts) clearly set the beat. The guitar, slide guitar and backing vocals of Jason Judd (Jeffy Checkers and the Shizams, Egan’s Rats) add another layer. And the guitar and lead vocals of Dave Pedersen (Jeffy Checkers and the Shizams, Stumphole) clearly are the focus.

The nice thing about the band is that each member gets his/her chance to shine, whether a lead-in bass beat by McClendon or a mid-song jam-drum explosion by Klonicki.

The group delivered seven original songs, ranging in theme from love and relationships to—in probably their best song of the night—returning home from serving in the military (not to be confused with serving in Iraq, Pedersen emphasized). The group’s lyrics, written by Pedersen, often tell a story and evoke meaning, and are delivered with sincerity.

The night was not without its minor hiccups. Not every song was as polished as a band that has been at it for years. But again, this was only the group’s second performance in front of an audience, so there’s plenty of time to buffer out the blemishes.

Midwestern Death is not just another cheap knockoff of a major act, or another lonely cover band. It’s a group with something to say, a sound of its own, and the musical talent to boot. As long as they continue to hone their sound and find their grooves on stage, chances are Rockford audiences will be there to listen.

From the Sept. 14-20, 2005, issue

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