If it hadn’t been for the COVID pandemic, power-poppy Kansas punk trio Get Smart! would’ve played a 40th-anniversary show—their first gig in three decades—in November 2020. That date ended up pushed back to November 2021, and luckily for us, it didn’t turn out to be a one-off affair. The band formed in Lawrence in 1980 and built a loyal local following with a mischievous, minimal style flavored by Lisa Wertman Crowe’s wiry, funky bass and Marc Koch’s pent-up guitar. In 1983 they moved to Chicago, which had bigger punk, new wave, and postpunk scenes and promised them new audiences and more potential to grow. Get Smart! soon hooked up with Enigma Records, which released their only two proper full-length albums: Action Reaction came out via Enigma imprint Fever in 1984, and 1986’s Swimming With Sharks followed on the Restless imprint in 1986. When Get Smart! broke up in 1990, they had unfinished business—specifically, a shelved third album they’d started recording in 1987 with Chicago-based punk producer Iain Burgess. In November 2020, just a few days after they’d planned to return to the stage, Get Smart! issued that unreleased material as a six-song EP called Oh Yeah No. Drummer Frank Loose propels the trio down leisurely pathways, his brisk but restrained tempos hinting at the speed the band have in reserve, and Wertman Crowe and Koch’s sweetly shabby vocal melodies emphasize the touch of lilting country in the music. Get Smart! also appear on an upcoming five-CD punk retrospective, whose continent-spanning roster includes fellow midwesterners Devo, the Pagans, the Electric Eels, and the Gizmos: in November, UK label Cherry Red will include their sawed-off punk-funk song “This Is Style” on Blank Generation: A Story of U.S./Canadian Punk & Its Aftershocks 1975-1981. The reunited Get Smart! rarely play out, and if you need another reason to get yourself to Liar’s Club, think of this gig as a piece of history—a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the band’s move to Chicago.
Get Smart! The 13 Tikis headline; Get Smart! and Jeff Lescher of Green open. Sat 10/7, 9 PM, Liar’s Club, 1665 W. Fullerton, $16.50, 21+