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Social Cinema unleashes new attitude-laced single, prepares for Ladder To Treefort tour

Mel Mercer

Social Cinema performs on a four-band bill Friday, March 17 at Wave.

Social Cinema's all-ages event is free and serves as the kickoff of the Ladder to Treefort tour, also featuring Wichita’s The Cavves, Keo & Them, and Rudy Love and The Encore. The tour winds to Boise, Idaho’s Treefort Festival from March 22-26 and finishes on April 2 in Des Moines, Iowa.

It marks the first time that all four acts have toured together. Additionally, it provides music loves a chance to sample from Wichita’s diverse body of music, whether the self-described “landlocked surf rock” of The Cavves, the soul and jazz-inflected sounds of Keo & Them, or Rudy Love and The Encore’s inimitable sound.

As part of the trek, each of the acts has released a new single. “John The Baptist,” the latest from Social Cinema is a no-holds-barred dose of rock ‘n’ attitude, from Logan Bush’s in-your-face vocal delivery to screaming, overdriven guitars and a musical setting that is relentless in its emotional push-and-pull.

Bush’s unapologetically brash opening lines are reminiscent of early ‘80s No Wave and New Wave poets while the subsequent verses and choruses would be easy to mistake for pop hooks if it all weren’t brimming with a sense that the band is swimming against the current. In that sense, Social Cinema is moving both its own sound and the sound of Midwestern rock itself boldly forward.

Bush, who is joined by his brother, Logan, as well as Mari Crisler, Austin Engler, and Reed Tiwald, says that fans can expect more surprises with other Social Cinema music to be released in 2023.

In the meantime, he and his bandmates, who recently spoke with KMUW, are eager to return to the road and represent the current sounds of the heartland at venues across the region.

Interview Highlights

I love this new single, “John The Baptist,” it’s just filled with so much attitude.

Griffin Bush: That was the point, a burst in attitude. I feel like it was that way [lyrically and] musically as well. That’s a good way to put it, attitude. That’s a good word for it, a burst of attitude that happened and we put it in a song.

Austin Engler: I think it was nice to get back to that sound. I feel like we explored that on our first two EPs but this a more refined aggressive sound for Social Cinema.

Logan Bush: I feel like our confidence in what we’re doing is shown in the song too. We know what we’re doing and we’re not afraid to be in your face with it.

Mari Crisler: I think that all comes down to Griffin wanting to a clickbait song. Something that has clickbait in it that gets people listening.

LB: It’s more of a head-turner, more than we usually put out. [People who have heard it have said], “Whoa!”

GB: It was actually written a long time ago, during the first EPs, but I felt like I wanted to save it because it wasn’t quite ready yet. I feel like it was a good call to re-find that with learning what we have learned over the past few years. I feel like it gets people ready for the later drops in the year where it’s just gonna be all over the place. We’re going to try to tackle a bunch of different sounds this year. The next three songs are not going to be three “John The Baptist”-style songs. It's its own little thing. The next piece will be its own little thing. I felt that this one was a good start to that with it being so aggressive.

I think another thing to like about it is that, after a couple of years of polite music that’s kind of dominated, this is a real kick in the face. 

GB: Musically, you could feel that even without me having an attitude with lyrics. I just wanted them to coexist where …. You could tell the tone of the song just by reading the lyrics but if you heard the song you could tell it had an attitude [even] if it was an instrumental.

It was fun to tackle a song like that because I feel like, whether consciously or not, we haven’t tackled something with “attitude” ever. It was a fun sort of experiment in all sorts of aspects of the song.

You have this tour coming up with four Wichita bands: You, The Cavves, Rudy Love & The Encore, and Keo & Them. I can’t remember a time when four Wichita bands went out on the road together let alone to go off and play a festival. It has to be a little bit exciting to see that kind of talent pool come together and I would also guess that it came about because of mutual respect. 

GB: Absolutely.

LB: We thought it would be cool if we came together and did a trip up there together, sharing gear. I think it will be a cool tour to represent Wichita.

AE: All three of those bands that are joining us are just incredible. Midtopia, a new organization in Wichita, helped us put it together. They have a very strong opinion that Wichita music is really great and want to get it out to the world.

GB: There’s The Cavves, who we have played multiple, multiple, multiple shows with but then there’s the other acts who we have definitely known but we’ve never gotten to experience the road with them or anything. So it’s very exciting to see how that’ll go. It’s just a cool opportunity for all of us and we’re glad that we get to share it all together.

The festival itself is very exciting to be a part of. There’s a lot of cool bands that we enjoy in general [that will be there that] we would just be excited to go see, so to be a part of it is very cool. We’re also just eager to hit the road again. It’s been a little bit so we’re itching to feel the road again and its ups and downs.

LB: It’ll be cool because we don’t usually tour with other bands because it’s hard to do that DIY. With the help of Midtopia we’re able to put together a tour with all these different bands. It’s one thing to go on the road with your pals but it’s another thing when you’ve got other bands that you’re hanging out with and watching each other play. It’ll be cool to see the reaction. All the bands are pretty different; it’s four pretty different sounds so it’ll just showcase how much stuff is going on in Wichita.

This free show on Friday at Wave is cool because if someone’s a fan of any one of the bands they get a pretty sweet deal and if they’ve never heard of any of the bands they still don’t have anything to lose. 

AE: It’s really cool to see the community in Wichita grow. I think it’s safe to say that all the bands usually get along and want to see each other succeed. It’s a really cool feeling to be joined together like that.

GB: It just makes sense for all of us [with where we’re at in our careers] and in the past we’ve all loved playing with all the bands in town so let’s do that one step further and do somewhat coordinated releases and try to get people excited about all aspects of the scene and the different sounds [in order to] tie that together and get people to pay attention to the whole spectrum of it. It’s been cool to be part of that and with this tour too I think it will be cool to bring [that idea] to other cities. It is exciting to be part of what feels like a big push as a city.

If we really want to showcase what we have to as many people as possible, it’s very, very awesome that [Friday’s] show is completely free, so if anyone wants to come check it out and have no idea what’s going on, they get to get in but, also, if someone likes all four of the bands, it’s amazing show that they don’t even have to pay for. It is a showcase and that’s what really hammers that point home, “We just want to show the little bit that this community is capable of musically.

Jedd Beaudoin is host/producer of the nationally syndicated program Strange Currency. He has also served as an arts reporter, a producer of A Musical Life and a founding member of the KMUW Movie Club. As a music journalist, his work has appeared in Pop Matters, Vox, No Depression and Keyboard Magazine.