The Mowgli’s Live at Mills Record Company

There are at least a million things to do on Black Friday. Jockey for position in a seemingly never-ending line. Frantically call up a child, loved-one, or friend and ask if it’s season 2 or 3 of Community they don’t have (the small details matter). At any number of big-box retailers, you can test out your arm span by seeing just how many electric-scooters you can grasp. Maybe scouring through a DVD bin like a digital-age Viking is more your speed. If you’re me, you’re scarfing down a plate of warm pancakes to refuel before venturing back out into the madness. One improbable option is to go and see a midday concert, but thanks to the fine folks at Mills Record Company that tryptophan induced pipe-dream became reality.

Firmly nestled in Kansas City’ vibrant Westport district, Mills is a new minted record haven for music junkies such as myself. Swear “I’ll only spend five minutes inside” and you’ll end up thumbing through their wood-crate bins for an hour plus. Getting lost in an opaque album cover from an unheard of band is the quickest vacation you can take. If you can’t wait to get home to spin some vinyl and are fiending for music, there’s a cassette tape or two to ease your blues if you’re still rocking a Walkman. Today though, the listening experience was more immediate courtesy of So-Cal transplants The Mowgli’s.

I must plead ignorance when it comes to the eight-piece “indie, gospel, folk, love-rock” group. Before today, I’d never crossed paths with their sun-soaked tracks. Packed into the store like a still-living sardine, I had zero expectations or reservations about what I’d be hearing. When KC-native Colin Louis Dieden and crew dug into their all-too-brief set, I was instantly sold. A cut like their top-4o alternative hit “San Francisco” rode an infectiously giddy wave of 60s pop “ba-ba-bas” and bore a drumbeat closer to the sunshine than any sidewalk. The rousing “Say It, Just Say It” adorned by jangly-tambourines and steady handclaps had the entire crowd of patrons and onlookers joining in on the jubilant chorus. I couldn’t see much over the crowd, but Dieden’s grin was easy to spot. While it may be virtually impossible not to smile during such a track, he seemed genuinely thrilled to be back on “home soil”.

That youthful energy sparked acoustic shuffler “Time”. Imagine a version of Pink Floyd’s similarly named song where you feel younger every day and defiantly tell the bank to “kiss your ass” and you’re close to the conceit. As “pie-in-the-sky” as a line like “let’s make a harmony and life will sing” may appear, it lent the proceeding a communal feel. It was a community that easily could’ve been out at Walmart, as vocalist/percussionist Katie Jayne Earl joked. But instead, they’d taken time out from the fast-paced day to relax. On a day all about deals, the best one to be found was entirely free.