Hands Down the Best Band in KC

            If you ask Addie Sartino, she’ll swear up and down she never ditched me at Lollapalooza this past summer. If you ask her why she never responded to my e-mail about setting up a time and date to do an interview with her band, she’ll face-palm and get that “aw shucks” look of a girl who has just been called out.

            If you ask me, I don’t blame her. Since The Greeting Committee’s song “Hands Down” became a hit on local alternative station 96.5 The Buzz, they’ve been bouncing from state to state doing promotions, playing shows, and cultivating a pretty substantial online fanbase. It’s also important to note that the band was balancing this while striving to meet their high school graduation requirements.

            The band formed in 2014, consisting of Blue Valley High School classmates Addie Sartino, Brandon Yangmi, Pierce Turcotte and Austin Fraser. Their EP “It’s Not All That Bad” was self-released and made its way to motor vehicles everywhere via Lazlo Geiger on a Church of Lazlo segment appropriately called “Mail”. The radio personality blindly opens music sent to the station, usually new singles or undiscovered bands. In the case of The Greeting Committee, it was the latter. The response from listeners? A loud and resounding “YES!”

            Since then, KC’s youngest band has signed to Harvest Records, a company that boasts artists such as Best Coast, Glass Animals, Banks and TV on the Radio. The Greeting Committee has played extensively in the Kansas City metro area, including huge events like Buzz Beach Ball and Boulevardia. They’ve toured opening for Kitten and played at big-name festivals such as SXSW and Lollapalooza. This past week, they opened for CHVRCHES and Death Cab for Cutie, a major moment for Sartino.

            The band first came to my attention through a friend of mine who heard “Hands Down” and knew immediately it was something I’d need to add to my extensive music library. I’ve long been a representative of the newest and catchiest music, but my biggest downfall is a lack of time spent listening to the radio.

            Autumn 2014 was the most difficult point in my life and the song made its entrance at just the right time. When I hear it, I think of falling leaves and Shawnee Mission Park. I think of friends and family gathered for a barbeque and a collage of photos featuring my father and I. It’s a song that represents healing and the warmth of companionship as I continue to grapple with the sudden loss of my dad.

            It’s the first song from that time in my life that doesn’t make me sad and that’s a really significant thing for me. I made it my mission to listen to the rest of the EP and learn the songs. I took many a long drive through the countryside alone, the lyrics falling from my lips like a sigh, especially in the case of “I Don’t Mind”. Appropriately, the words that strike me the most are, “it kind of sounded like you’re never coming back”.

            From that moment, I spent time promoting The Greeting Committee from straight up reverence for young souls coming together to create music that not only touched, but gripped listeners. For me, music is a very holy thing and The Greeting Committee was paying it a lot of respect. It’s also exciting to have personal ties with the band, a group of teenagers who grew up essentially down the street from me. Their enthusiasm and passion are apparent in their performances and recordings alike. I’ve had an underlying need to meet the band for the simple reason that I recognized their kindred spirits.

            I first reached the band by e-mail, asking if they were available to meet for an interview. Addie responded saying she’d convene with the band and get back to me, but a reply never came. Adamant, I attended a performance in the hopes of running into them, but no luck. Finally, I took to Twitter and made plans with the band to meet up at Lollapalooza, but due to conflicting schedules, a lack of cell service and completely terrible luck, the only time we crossed paths was at their set when Addie hopped into the crowd beside me and drove the audience mad with excitement.

            Finally, after badgering, pestering, and one tweet where the band made my worst nightmares reality

            I was promised to meet up after their opening set at Buzz Under The Stars Night 2. It’s very important to note that Death Cab for Cutie is my favorite band in existence, past and present. I’d need a whole other article to sing their praises, but it’s serious enough that there’s a tattoo in the works. Because of this, I was at the venue hours early to ensure my second row spot. As the second band rolled out after a break for set-up, it was time to send a side-eye emoji as my chances of meeting them seemed to grow smaller. More people had arrived and I couldn’t be sure how easy it would be to get in and out of where I was in the crowd. Finally, a direct message arrived from the band’s Twitter. I smelled victory.

            Meeting Addie was a dream, and not just because I was feeling weightless from a few beers and the conclusion of a battle hard-fought.  She was talking to a few excited fans and asked me to take some photos of them, which I happily obliged. I stood by before she turned to me and said, “Are you Hannah?!”

            My heart soared. We hugged, we held each other side by side as she greeted a few passers by, and held hands as she defended her honor as Designated Ditcher. My fondness for the moment and her easy energy meant I let her get away with it. We celebrated with a photo and another hug with the promise of seeing one another in the future.

            This is the magic of music. My dad once said to me, “You have the album, what do you need to see them live for?” Aghast, I stumbled over my words as I tried to assemble the English language into something that resembled my feelings on that matter. I can’t remember what I said to him then, but I’ve had some time since then to declare an English major and read a few more books.

            It’s as simple as this: nothing can compare to the connection between a crowd and a band when they’re sharing the same space. There’s nothing like screaming the lyrics with a hundred other people into the night air or the excitement you feel when the toes of your sneakers make contact with the metal barrier that signals a first-row view. There’s a sacred exchange that takes place between performers and fans that can’t be replicated in any other venue. It brings people together, it creates a high that requires no substance abuse, and in that moment there’s nothing but love. To quote another band I’m somewhat fond of, “Love is all you need.”