It was prom night, but the teenagers who packed Mills Record Company in Westport last month clearly had priorities.
“We can’t miss a show with Addie,” said Sage Morgan, referring to Addie Sartino, the charismatic front-person of the The Greeting Committee, who was giving a rare solo performance in honor of Record Store day.
“The music is awesome, we love the band,” said Morgan, who was there with her girlfriend, both of them in formal wear. “We’ve been following them since they started playing.”
“I feel like we’re going to have one of the best pre-prom stories,” added Morgan’s friend, Lily Smith. who had incorporated The Greeting Committee into a school project.
“I made a music video of one of their songs for my junior year video production class,” she explained. “It was my final that year. I got an A.”
The Greeting Committee is inspiring similar devotion across the country. The quartet of Blue Valley High School graduates released its debut album, “This Is It” — filled with sugary indie-pop anthems about teen angst — last year on Harvest Records, a sub-label of Capitol Records.
The band secured its recording contract after a demo version of "Hands Down" went viral in 2015, racking up hundreds of thousands of streams on YouTube and Spotify after Kansas City’s 96.5 The Buzz started playing it.
At the time, Sartino and her bandmates were still in school at Blue Valley. Sartino was vice president of the student council, while drummer Austin Fraser, bassist Pierce Turcotte and guitarist Brandon Yangmi were in the pit orchestra and jazz bands.
“We were in pretty different social groups,” Sartino notes.
“I didn’t know most of them until we started the band,” adds Turcotte.
The Greeting Committee’s fans can thank Sartino and Yangmi’s moms for getting the band together.
“Our moms actually set Brandon and I up to be more than friends,” Sartino recalls. “We ended up just being friends, and thank God for that, because the Greeting Committee was born out of that friendship.”
Their precocious talent set the four musicians apart from their classmates. Teachers accommodated their unconventional schedule.
“They would kind of cut us that slack if we went on tour,” Sartino says.
The quartet quickly became fresh-faced road warriors.
“Columbus, Ohio, is always going to be a good show and we know that Philadelphia has been really good as well,” she says. “Kansas City always knows how to throw down.”
In its only major hometown concert last year, the Greeting Committee sold out the 1,200-capacity Truman, where Sartino’s on-stage antics thrilled the audience.
“I bounce around a lot,” she acknowledges. “I really enjoy going out into the crowd. I'm really essentially giving myself whiplash — very worth it. Like I'm not going to have hips or knees or a back that work very well by the time I'm 60, but I'll have so many fun stories from touring that it really won't matter to me.”
Sartino understands that it will take more than a lively stage show to keep her band’s young fans engaged. The rite of passage from carefree youthfulness to arduous adulthood is depicted in the music video for "Is This It?," in which Sartino, now 21, attempts to shield a younger version of herself from sex, drugs and yes — rock and roll — at a clamorous party.
“When we started, our whole thing was, ‘Wow, they're so good, they're so young,’” she notes. “I hope we continue to wow people and instead of it being, ‘Wow, they're so young,’ it's just, ‘Wow, they're talented.’”
The Greeting Committee will have to rely on that talent as it headlines concerts in markets including New York, Chicago and Philadelphia this month. As they’re already finding out, the novelty of youth fades quickly.
The Greeting Committee performs on the main stage of the Boulevardia festival on Saturday, June 15.
KCUR contributor Bill Brownlee blogs about Kansas City's jazz scene at Plastic Sax.