Show Review: The Kemps at Helter Shelter

I’m really into how music makes me feel.

Depending on my mood, I can make myself feel just about anything, excluding country and Justin Bieber.

But, then there are songs and bands that absolutely, 100% make you feel, instead of you having to feel it.

You feel me?

The Kemps? They’re a band that inspires feeling. The moment I heard them, I just felt it–mood notwithstanding.

Felt Like Going To A Show

I hadn’t been to a solid show in a while. I heard about The Kemps CD Release from a co-worker and thought, Oh yeah. I’m feeling that.

So, not exactly sure what to expect, I showed up at Helter Shelter, located at 54th and Broadway, just outside of Broad Ripple around 11:30 on Friday, September 9th and my first thought was: I should’ve done shots before this.

But in a good way. In a, I want to feel the way everyone is, way. Not in a, I’m going to see a chick flick and want to get the most for my $10.50, kind of a way.

So I show up only three drinks deep, slightly confused about whether or not I was in the right place and I ask the first guy I see, “Is this The Kemps CD release show?” The gentleman gives me a blank stare and finally says, “Uhh, I don’t know? I think so?”

I got the feeling he genuinely had no idea so I thanked him and moved on. I found out several minutes later, mostly by the thumping of a bass drum in the basement that I was certainly in the right place.

I arrived too late to see Vacation Club, but just in time to venture down to the depths of Helter Shelter and catch Oreo Jones. His sweater reminded me of the new the mint flavored Oreos and his music reminded me of how much fun I had listening to hip-hop in the late 90’s, despite being nine years old (or something like that). And I mean, the guy goes by Oreo Jones.Ten points right off the bat.

After he finished, I ventured back upstairs and out to the porch for fresh air. After snapping a few photos from the porch and yard, striking up conversation with guys from two bands that I can’t remember the names of and wishing I had gotten the BYOB memo, I went back in for the Kemps.

They started off with You’re One Of Us Now. A few people pushed forward and and began dancing. Hard. Talk about feeling it. My favorite song, Graveyard Kitten,was played next, a dance-worthy track for sure.

The quality of sound in the basement outdid my meager expectations. I didn’t feel I was missing out on any of the shout-style vocals; catchy, smooth riffs that reminded me of film grain and pipe tobacco; precise but relaxed drum rolls with a solid thumping kick drum; and discreet but rhythmic bass lines.

They played Slow Motion Magic and Fertile Flowers next while the audience inched closer and danced harder. Last For A While brought a change of pace with sultry riffs and lyrics more sung than shouted. Losing Control and Listen, It’s OK brought the show to an energetic end that felt more like a beginning.

Giving in to the obligatory and inevitable encore chant, they played one last song, WarPaintBabyPowder, thanked us for coming, told us to be safe and sent us packing.

The Verdict
I have this game I like to play when I’m bored. And it’s called: If This Album Were an Animal it’d Be a/an:_________.

My answer for the music I heard at the show? A Velvet Worm.

Or an orangutan.

If that’s too cryptic, I’ll go ahead and spell it out. This show and its music felt old yet new, retro yet modern, strange yet familiar, nostalgic yet progressive.

If you get a chance, do yourself a favor and see these guys. You’ll feel where I’m coming from.

For pictures from the show, check out