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Underground Series: Revolution Records Takes Pride in Turning Up the “Weird Static”

As its name might suggest, Revolution Records, located in the downtown Crossroads area of Kansas City, can best be described as revolutionary. In an area often criticized by locals and scholars alike for gentrification, the old school record store opened in 2015 and feels more homey than hipster, staying true to the Crossroads’ original reputation as an eclectic, welcoming hub for artists, musicians, and writers. Visitors can sift through shelves of both old and new music—including a beloved Digger’s Room where some records cost $2 or less—sample the music on the shop’s turntable, and pet a wandering store dog named Jasper. They can also check out handmade local ‘zines that affirm and explore a variety of progressive causes.

And on select Friday nights, customers get the added delight of poetry. 8th St. Publishing Guild, a self-proclaimed “avant-garde, surrealist” press operating out of Kansas City, teamed up with Revolution Records a few years ago to host both featured readers and open mics.

“Revolution is a great spot to make our home because we’ve always catered to the weirder side of things,” said Promise Clutter, a co-founder of 8th St. Publishing Guild, alongside fellow writers Patrick Sanders and Evan Thomas.

I have personally read at Revolution Records and find it to be supportive and understated, like an intimate, writerly dinner party. Except at this dinner party, no one bothers to cook. Instead, Trader Joe’s wine flows freely and guests sit in folding chairs, on the ground, or even continue browsing records. Readings often begin with someone sharing the work of their favorite poet, then shift to original material. For me, this mingling of old and new voices makes the space feel almost sacred, representative of an ever-present literary tradition.

According to Sanders, this cozy, warm, and open vibe fits exactly what the group wanted to facilitate. It also inspires Sanders to continue reading his own work at the series.

“The readings are very lowkey. The idea is to hopefully let what we have speak for itself—that the writing itself is charismatic enough to translate well,” Sanders said. “Personally, I hope that folks feel comfortable. It’s a different environment than most readings. We want folks to share the things on the edges of their neuroses, that weird static that is hard to capture.”

In fact, Sanders says Revolution Records’ push to amplify this intangible “weird static” keeps him listening and chasing after it in his own writing.

“Honestly, sometimes if I didn’t have the readings to look forward to, I don’t know if I’d write anything,” Sanders said.

Thomas similarly feels that the readings are something to look forward to, describing the mood as a kind of “play” and not “serious-minded,” which they say counters the typical approach to surrealism.

“The mood has always seemed light but reverent to me,” Thomas said. “I hope that whoever comes to the Open Poetry readings finds something that resonates [with them] there and that it gives them a place to share their work. Hopefully, these readings offer a context to respond to for those who have found some kind of identification in poetry.”

To learn more about Revolution Records and their collaboration with 8th St. Publishing Guild, visit the shop on Facebook or in person at 1830 Locust St. in Kansas City. 8th St. Publishing Guild will host their next reading at the venue on Friday, April 26 at 7 p.m. To submit your work to 8th St. Publishing Guild, email eightstreetpg@gmail.com.