Writ large, East coasters (and West, for that matter) don't seem to know much about my home state of Kansas. Whether you’re picturing endless wheat fields and grazing cows or absentmindedly humming “Over the Rainbow,” it’s safe to say that there’s another lesser—known side to this midwestern state (although the tornadoes are very real). As a Kansas girl now living in the Northeast, I'm legally obligated to defend the better parts of my hometown—and it’s a pleasure to introduce you to The Greeting Committee.
The Greeting Committee was originally formed by Addie Sartino, Brandon Yangmi, Pierce Turcotte, and Austin Fraser. They met while in high school in Overland Park (a suburb outside of Kansas City) and released their first EP in March 2015, when they were still in school. In a recent shake–up, the band’s new drummer Micah Ritchie replaced Fraser.
Yes, they’re a hometown band—but their music isn't just for locals.
The Greeting Committee has two full albums, three EPs, and a couple of singles. Their first EP, It’s Not All That Bad, came out in 2015 and features five songs that exemplify the band’s skill set of lofty instrumentals complemented by grounding lyrics. Listen to it in order, and watch out for the second track “Hands Down:” it's their most–streamed song on Spotify and will inevitably inspire a full on dance party. Then, notice the introspective shift that takes place in the third track, “Out Of My Head.” The Greeting Committee’s music expertly approaches self–reflection, evaluative in a way that seems almost impartial, while also deeply personal.
The fourth track, “I Don’t Mind,” opens with the rhetorical question “Why do I keep pretending/Everything is temporary,” strikingly honest and straightforward. When you get to the final track, “Make It Right,” you can start dancing again—but this time out of righteous anger, rather than euphoric love. It’s the full range of youthful emotions that could only be captured by a bunch of high school kids in a band; that’s the beauty of it.
Next up is Meeting People is Easy, their second EP released in 2017 that solidified their place as an indie band that’s equal parts coming–of–age movie soundtrack and stripped–down confessional. “Velveteen”—the instrumental first track—captures a sense of wonder that quickly transitions into what one would play in the background while investigating the mysteries of the universe and suddenly discovering the meaning of life.
The rest of the EP picks up right where It’s Not All That Bad left off, albeit with an increased sophistication. “She’s A Gun” is the very best of one of the band’s signatures—a portrayal of an inevitably doomed romance, set to an instrumental track that demands a full on singing in your hairbrush moment. It’s probably the most joyful you’ll ever be while screaming “She’s gonna kill me!” There’s an unapologetic self–awareness in this EP that makes the Greeting Committee special.
In 2018, they released their first album, This is It. It’s an examination of childhood and the strange feeling that comes with leaving it behind, exemplified by the sort–of title track, “Is This It?” (“I fell asleep in a stranger’s bed/In the house that I grew up in”).
“Gold Star” and “Birthday Song” are contemplative takes on the plight of youth—the former grapples with the world’s demanding expectations (“I don’t think I can be all I want/In the hearts of others), the latter with a child whose optimism is shattered (“You learned to hate your birthday”).
Still, there are moments of resilient, even obstinate, hope. “17” is a powerful moment of clarity: an upbeat celebration of growing up and claiming ownership over your life. And it really does capture what it feels like to be 17. The final track, “Don’t Go,” encapsulates the feeling of growing up and watching the world move on, but longing to stay behind (“Don’t go/I’ll never make it on my own”).
I’m Afraid I’m Not Angry is a melancholic EP of four songs that deal with existential dread and terror of being alive—of “Simply Surviving,” which is the second track. It’s less hopeful and more resigned than their previous work. The Greeting Committee’s music is always unflinchingly existential—but in this EP, they grapple with these questions with a new sense of urgency and longing (“What’s left for me than simply surviving?”).
And yet, you’ll keep dancing. I’m Afraid I’m Not Angry evaluates the absurdity of trying to get by (“There is tomorrow/When I can’t even make it through today”) while also maintaining a reverent appreciation for life. And, it confronts lofty, universal questions with a disarming familiarity that will, perhaps, make you feel a little more sane.
Finally, their most recent album, Dandelion, expresses the same volatility of emotion, but with a greater maturity that is reflected in the cooler, more produced instrumentals. This is it: the break–up album. More than that, however, this album is about healing, and it doesn’t shy away from the painful moments of recovery. It’s the raw honesty of their previous work, but it’s more reflective, as if watching the pain of youthful love from a distance, while simultaneously reckoning with its repercussions.
In the final moments of “Float Away,” Sartino soberly requests, “Don’t let me fall another martyr.” It’s an earnest plea, and one that echoes throughout the rest of the album. There is no rosy hope in the title track, but there is a refreshing grasp on reality (“Just another day without you/And I’m alive”).
Like any break–up album, Dandelion is light on love songs—“So It Must Be True” sums up the album’s attitude with the lyric “Here’s your love song/You only get one ‘cause you pissed me off.” However, “Wrapped Inside Of Your Arms” has that quintessential cozy, confessional feel, paired with the dreamlike style of “Dandelion.” It’s the only true love song on the album, and represents the type of connection that the rest of the tracks mourn.
In “Sort of Stranger”—the last original track on the album and a collaboration with indie artist Briston Maroney—the band lays it all on the table. It’s vulnerable, mature, and reflective: everything that makes Dandelion so special. As she sings “I guess we do turn into our parents,” the album’s meaning crystallizes: it’s the clumsy yet deeply profound wisdom of early twenty–somethings who are making sense of life, day by day.
If you’re only going to listen to one song, make it “Hands Down,” their first ever single and most–streamed song on Spotify. It’s best listened to driving down a winding, country road on a sunny 75° day, but a crisp walk down Locust or mid–afternoon study break will suffice.
Once you’ve listened to everything The Greeting Committee has to offer, you may be tempted to mourn the moment of discovery. But don’t despair—listen to “Hands Down” again (for old times’ sake) and dance it out. If you really can’t get enough, I have excellent news: The Greeting Committee is currently on tour performing Dandelion—and you can see them live at The Foundry on Dec. 7.