A house for misfits hosts stellar music, good times

Samuel Towns

I’m sitting on an unfamiliar couch, surrounded by unfamiliar people, but I’m getting to know them.

They’re musicians, and they’re poets. They’re intellectuals, and they’re chess players.

They’re the eclectic group that fervently cheers on bands who blast music in the basement of a house just east of UMKC’s campus.

Its owners have dubbed the secretive space, which is rapidly becoming an infamous hangout for a motley assortment of dudes, the Salt Water Taffy House.

Walking through the front door of the Salt Water Taffy, or simply the Taffy, is like entering into a strange new dimension.

Nothing seems familiar because the ordinary is nowhere to be found within its walls. But it’s not quite extraordinary either.

That word is a touch too verbose to describe the Taffy’s raunchy goings on.

Where the Taffy does shine, though, is in its sanctuary. Rebellious, but often downtrodden, the crew that congregates here are among their own. They’re safe to be themselves within the confines of the Taffy.

Judgment is left in the familiar world, the world left behind as one walks through the threshold provided by the house’s front door.

Moving deeper into the heart of the Taffy, one is greeted by plenty of couches for sitting, a slew of provocative artwork for marveling and a multitude of philosophical topics to discuss.

The mood of the house never seems to falter. It always retains a comfortable level of optimism, which fuels the good times throughout the night.

Bands from all over the Midwest stop by while on tour to play in the house’s basement. They seem to feed off of the house’s energy, keeping it pent up within themselves until they unleash in its new musical form.

The bottom floor of the Taffy is a tiny, dimly lit room, but the bands and fans make the most of the space. Through a shroud of cigarette smoke, one can discern arms flailing, fists pumping and legs springing up and down.

Everybody in the basement is set in motion, and, as the miniature mosh pit pulsates to and fro, the guitarists’ heads head-bang in sync to the rhythm of the drummer’s incessant beat.

During the Taffy’s last show, which took place Thursday, March 24, a band by the name of Texas Instruments (TI) performed. If you took Algebra II back in High School, you should recognize the name, which is taken from a popular line of punch-key calculators. TI consists of guitarists Tucker Porter and Matt Gall, Bassist Sam Hall and drummer Iain Blair.

Their set that Thursday night consisted of all new songs and the usual gang of misfits delighted in being the first to hear their new material.

Leaving the Taffy after a show, one gets the feeling that the house is almost a living, breathing thing that will only get bigger and bigger over time.

That feeling is what keeps the house’s dedicated fan-base coming back for more potato chip antics and couch-sitting good times.

At the rate that the Taffy is drawing in fans, it would come as no surprise to find more newcomers at their next show than dedicated regulars.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Salt Walter Taffy House, or in any of their upcoming shows, check out their facebook page, www.facebook.com/saltwaltertaffyhouse or just head east of campus and follow the music.

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