The Embarrassment

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The Embarrassment
Lawrence 2006
Lawrence 2006
Background information
OriginWichita, Kansas, United States
GenresPunk rock
Years active1979–1983
LabelsFresh Sounds, Time to Develop, Bar/None, My Pal God
MembersBill Goffrier
John Nichols
Ron Klaus
Brent "Woody" Giessmann
WebsiteOfficial website Edit this at Wikidata

The Embarrassment was an American quartet formed in 1979 in Wichita, Kansas, that was active from 1979 to 1983, but has reunited several times since then. The band consisted of guitarist Bill Goffrier, lead singer and organist John Nichols, bassist Ron Klaus and drummer Brent Giessmann. After the break-up, Giessmann played for The Del Fuegos and Goffrier formed Big Dipper. The band was considered a prominent part of the Lawrence music scene of the early 1980s.


Although some people considered the band punk rock, the band itself liked to describe themselves as "Blister Pop." The Village Voice's long-time chief music critic, Robert Christgau, called them a "great lost American band."[1] Along with bands like Get Smart!, and the Mortal Micronotz, the Embarrassment were prominent in the Lawrence punk scene of the early '80s[2][3] and they would regularly play at venues like the Lawrence Opera House (now called "Liberty Hall") and the Off The Wall Hall (later called "Cogburn's", now called "The Bottleneck").[4][5]

The Embarrassment stopped performing when two of the members moved to Boston. Giessmann drummed for The Del Fuegos, and Goffrier formed the band Big Dipper with former members of the Volcano Suns. Several of The Embarrassment's unreleased songs were recorded by Big Dipper, including "Faith Healer," which was later covered by Japanese all-girl group Shonen Knife.[6]

The "Embos," as fans call them, have played several reunion concerts in the years since, the latest being in August 2008, when they played an acoustic show in Wichita.

Kansas-born political writer Thomas Frank quoted lyrics from their song "Sex Drive" in his bestselling 2004 book What's the Matter with Kansas?.[7]



The Embarrassment played a reunion show on New Year's Eve in 1985 at Cogburn's (now "The Bottleneck") in Lawrence. Original drummer Brent Geissmann was unable to participate, as he was on tour with the Del Fuegos. They played the following New Year's Eve at Cogburn's, with all four original members participating. Also on the bill was another Kansas band, the Micronotz.[8] In 1988/1989 they converged again for three reunion shows: one on New Year's at Big Dog Studio in Wichita and the next two at The Bottleneck in Lawrence (formerly "Cogburn's") on January 5 and 6. The Moving Van Goghs opened the show on January 5, and the Sin City Disciples opened the show on January 6.[9][10]


The Embarrassment played a few reunion shows 2006, first at The Roadhouse, in Wichita, with Local Band on 18 August and The Sluggos on 19 August. On August 20, the band performed at Liberty Hall (formerly the "Lawrence Opera House"), with special guests Kill Creek and The Mortal Micronotz.[11][12][13][14] The Embarrassment performed an acoustic concert August 30, 2008 at John Barleycorn's in Wichita. The performance was opened by Brent Giessmann solo on electric piano for a few songs, then the local group The Sluggos. The original trio of Goffrier, Nichols, and Giessmann then took the stage with Eric Cale (cover artist for the 1983 Death Travels West album) on upright bass and Freedy Johnston on additional guitar and backing vocals. Some new, or previously unperformed work was presented, including the song "Carpshoot", written by Ron Klaus, who was not able to attend. Freedy Johnston followed to end the night with his solo work.


Singles & EPs[edit]


  • 1983 - Death Travels West (Fresh Sounds - mini LP)
  • 1984 - The Embarrassment Retrospective (Fresh Sounds - cassette)
  • 1990 - God Help Us LP and CD (Bar/None) [16][17]
  • 2001 - Blister Pop CD (My Pal God) [18][19]

Compilation albums[edit]

  • 1987 - The Embarrassment LP (Time To Develop) [20][21]
  • 1995 - Heyday 1979-83 Double CD (Bar/None) [22]

Compilation appearances[edit]

  • 1981 - Battle of the Garages Volume 1 (Bomp! Records)
  • 1981 - Sub Pop 5 (Sub Pop - cassette)
  • 1982 - Sub Pop 7 (Sub Pop - cassette)
  • 1988 - Human Music (Homestead)
  • 1989 - Time for a Change (Bar/None)



  • "In the early 1980s, Wichita, Kansas's Embarrassment secretly set a template for American indie-rock: edgy, rocking tunes full of clever wordplay and subtle wit, as played by four guys in thick glasses. They fell somewhere between the Feelies' perpetual nervousness and the Replacements' inebriated garage-rock; it's hard to think of many other peers from their era." (Mike Appelstein, Amazon) [25]
  • "From exotic Wichita, with a gift for hookily hypnotic guitar lines that need a haircut... Now that I've finally gotten the message, a year and a half after this great lost American band dispersed into the wilds of Wichita, I still can't repeat it back to you." (Robert Christgau, critic for the Village Voice) [1]
  • "Before they broke up in 1983, this quartet from Wichita, Kansas rocked furiously, with less brittle/more melodious guitar than the Scottish new wave pop bands Orange Juice and Josef K to whom the Embos were sometimes compared." (Jim Green/Ira Robbins/Jack Partain, Trouser Press) [26]
  • "The group's eclectic yet distinctive sound wrapped a post-punk approach and a deadpan sense of humor around pop, country, disco, and metal elements, crafting songs that rivaled the work of better-known contemporaries like Gang of Four, Mission of Burma, and the Feelies." (Heather Phares, Allmusic) [27]
  • "They played tight, blistering pop songs when overproduced stadium-rock anthems and repetitive disco tracks were the norm... The Embarrassment continues to foster a national reputation as 'The best band you never heard of.' " (Jon Niccum, Lawrence Journal-World) [11]


  1. ^ a b Christgau, Robert. "Consumer Guide Reviews".
  2. ^ Mills, Mike (July 1985). "Our Town". Spin. p. 23. If the Embarrassment from Lawrence, Kansas, had become a huge national hit, people would have gone, "God, there's Get Smart!, and The Mortal Micronotz - LOOK AT ALL THOSE BANDS! What is it about Lawrence, Kansas, that produces these bands?"
  3. ^ Fricke, David (December 18, 1986). "The Underground Empire". Rolling Stone. p. 116. Archived from the original on June 6, 1997. Lawrence, Kansas, has been a hotbed of alternative music for several years, thanks principally to the indefatigable Bill Rich, who runs the hardy, little Fresh Sounds label there. As far back as 1981, Rich was issuing the first pressings by the Lawrence bands Get Smart! and the Embarrassment, both of whom went on to underground-cult fame. Alt URL
  4. ^ Gintowt, Richard (February 19, 2003). "Inside the Outhouse". Retrieved Jan 6, 2011.
  5. ^ "The Bottleneck History". Retrieved January 6, 2010.
  6. ^ Wall, Matt. "The Embarrassment History". Retrieved January 5, 2010.
  7. ^ Thomas, Frank (2004). What's the Matter with Kansas? (paperback ed.). p. 57.
  8. ^ Hitchcock, Doug (December 14, 1986). "New year's Eve reunites Embarrassment". Lawrence Journal-World. Retrieved Jan 5, 2011.
  9. ^ Hitchcock, Doug (December 25, 1988). "The Embarrassment reunites to rock after five-year hiatus". Lawrence Journal-World. Retrieved Jan 5, 2011.
  10. ^ "The Embarrassment's back". Lawrence Journal-World. January 5, 1989. Retrieved Jan 5, 2011.
  11. ^ a b Niccum, Jon (August 20, 2006). "The best band you never heard of". Lawrence Journal-World. Retrieved Jan 5, 2011.
  12. ^ Brown, Ashley (August 24, 2006). "The Embarrassment with the Mortal Micronotz and Kill Creek". the Kansas City Star. Retrieved Jan 6, 2011.
  13. ^ "THE EMBARRASSMENT TO REUNITE FOR TWO SHOWS". Wichita Eagle. August 18, 2006. Retrieved Jan 5, 2011.
  14. ^ "The Embarrassment News". Retrieved January 5, 2010.
  15. ^ a b Hitchcock, Doug (November 24, 1985). "Homestead mulls Embarrassment disc". Lawrence Journal-World. Retrieved Jan 5, 2011.
  16. ^ Pick, Steve (April 27, 1990). "The Embarrassment Can Be Proud Now". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved Jan 5, 2011.
  17. ^ "THE EMBARRASSMENT: GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN". Wichita Eagle. May 7, 1990. Retrieved Jan 5, 2011.
  18. ^ "My Pal God Records - Blister Pop". Retrieved January 5, 2010.
  19. ^ "PUNK PIONEERS -- NEARLY 18 YEARS AFTER ITS DEMISE, WICHITA'S THE EMBARRASSMENT HAS A NEW CD". Wichita Eagle. April 8, 2001. Retrieved Jan 5, 2011.
  20. ^ Hitchcock, Doug (October 19, 1986). "The Embarrassment's time for album is coming". Lawrence Journal-World. Retrieved Jan 5, 2011.
  21. ^ "The Embarrassment LP Review". Faster Louder. June 29, 2005. Retrieved Jan 5, 2011.
  22. ^ "EMBARRASSMENT WON'T FADE AWAY". Wichita Eagle. November 1, 1995. Retrieved Jan 5, 2011.
  23. ^ "Discography". The Embarrassment. Retrieved January 5, 2010.
  24. ^ The Embarrassment discography at Discogs
  25. ^ Appelstein, Mike. "Embarrassment - Blister Pop". Retrieved March 15, 2011.
  26. ^ Robbins, Ira; Green, Jim; Partain, Jack. "Embarrassment". Trouser Press. Retrieved March 15, 2011.
  27. ^ Phares, Heather. "The Embarrassment Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved March 15, 2011.

External links[edit]