An ocean of fans awaited the eclectic and electric indie-rock band, Hippo Campus. From the first glitchy synth tone to the final guitar strum, every eye in the room was locked on lead singer Jake Luppen and Company, and not a single pair of feet stood solitary.
The pure joy in the room was palpable instantly. This kind of joy was syrupy sweet and painted the walls pink and purple and perfumey like cotton candy and summer nights.
The band opened with the melodic and sultry “Bambi,” which was barely audible through the shrieks and shouts and emotions of radiant love. Next, fan-favorite “The Way It Goes” lit up the crowd like the night sky on the Fourth of July and New Years combined. Fans sang and danced to every word and basked in the warm heat enveloping the crowded room, as guitars loudly jangled.
Through the entire set, through “Doubt,” through “Simple Season,” through “Suicide Saturday,” through “Buttercup,” the airy sugary vibe in the venue hung thick in the air, suspended by the bright red, blue, pink, and violet hues of light beams.
This warmth kept fans down sweaty and damp down to their t-shirts even after they wandered out into the sub-zero degree temperatures outside. For that night, for those hours, the world outside seemed like a beach, and the music sounded unlimited.
Here’s a not-so-hypothetical hypothetical. You’ve worked all week. You’ve slaved at your laptop, you’ve been in and out of meetings, and your boss has been riding you like Seabiscuit all. week. long.
You, the weekend warrior- you, the one who works the desk– YOU deserve to dance.
This Saturday night in Kansas City, two of indie-rocks’ most dancey acts will be playing rock music. And it will be loud, and it will be fun, and it will be carefree. And you should be there.
Joywave and Sir Sly are on the bill, and both have experienced huge levels of success, on record and in concert. Both have played festivals and shows around the world, and specialize in making booties move.
Joywave has been playing high octane rock music since 2010 and hail from Rochester, NY. The group brings an electric vibrancy of sound with slick guitars, heavy drums and bass, and catchy as hell vocals. Lead singer Daniel Armbruster provides a sort of nerdy charm to his performance and guitarist Joseph Morinelli absolutely shreds licks down.
Don’t miss “Destruction” and “Somebody New” for optimal dancing tracks that are guaranteed to make you forget about your week.
In addition to Joywave, Los Angeles indie-rockers Sir Sly will open the show.
Sir Sly’s sound pulses with electronic synthesizers and chest-rattling bass. Their songs hit like a dart to the head- they STICK IN THERE.
Sir Sly has made a big name for themselves cutting up the club scene and pretty much touring constantly for years. They’ve proven to be formidable in making crowds eager to sing and dance along with their catchy tunes.
Who knew that three Jewish sisters from Los Angeles could perform one of the best rock sets of 2018? Uh, I did. It’s 2018, get over it.
(I really considered not making that my intro sentence, but I’m basically writing this for myself, so screw it.)
Danielle, Este, and Alana Haim strutted through Kansas City’s Uptown Theatre on May 10, and instantly blew the roof off the place with high octane, highly danceable rock music.
HAIM have been rocking since 2013, and creating some of the best on-stage banter in the music scene today. Their catalog, full of catchy, bold, and awesome indie-pop tunes translate to a live setting so perfectly, these three sisters are IMPOSSIBLE to dislike.
Starting off with the unstoppable one-two-three punch, also known as a PERFECT COMBO in Mortal Combat, “Falling,” “Don’t Save Me,” and “Little of Your Love,” rocked through the venue and got everyone’s feet moving. Even the coolest cucumbers in the room, those who came to the show, not to dance, but to look cool, quickly got pickled in the power of dance.
The hits kept coming throughout the impressive almost 2-hour-stunner. “My Song 5, “Walking Away,” and “The Wire,” kept the temperature of the room at about 200 degrees. I say that, because I sweated through my shirt whilst dancing. Totally. Fucking. Worth it.
HAIM’s power goes beyond the music. They are cool, funny, strong, and profoundly talented musicians. Their music hits you hard in the soul and reverberates through your bones, forcing you to dance. It is highly emotional and shoots through your heart like that scene in Pulp Fiction.
If you get a chance to see these amazing women live, jump at the chance. And if their opening act Lizzo finds herself in your area, GO. Don’t ask questions, just go. You’ll be glad you did.
There are places and times to best experience music, music heard in its’ prime environment and ambiance. For example, it’s a well known fact that AC/DC is optimally listened to while driving 45 mph down a vacant road, dirt preferred. Beach House is best heard at, you guessed it, a cabin in Colorado in the dead of winter.
As for Issaquah, Washington indie-rock legends, Modest Mouse, the optimum viewing experience led about 6,000 music fans to the Starlight Theatre in Kansas City on Friday, May 10.
What tricks does a band that’s been rocking consistently for about 26 years still have in store? It turns out, a lot.
The band came prepared with 9 members on stage, including two drummers, horns, and theatrical violins and an upright bass. Isaac Brock and Co. really came to impress.
And impress they did! The band came out absolutely swinging with “Dark Center of the Universe” from long-time fan favorite album, The Moon and Antarctica.
The band kept going through hits played liberally from their five most recent albums. Some of the most viciously fun songs played were “Dashboard,” “Lampshades on Fire,” “Cowboy Dan,” and of course, “Float On.”
The surge of people I saw sprinting up towards the stage, to take a selfie during “Float On” was just astonishing. There was a security guard, whose only job, was to prevent people from taking selfies near the stage, AND HE COULDN’T HANDLE THE RUSH! I tried to keep tally, but lost track.
But still, can we just reflect on how good that song is? And how good this band is? I mean, everyone has heard of Modest Mouse. They’ve been around for 30 years! But they’ve kept every bit of excitement, experimentation, and catchiness for their entire career. They never receded away, and never backed down.
Modest Mouse continue their tour through mid-October, (impressive, right?) and will be coming to Wichita on the 21st. So, check them out. You’ll be glad you did.
BROCKHAMPTON are the biggest name in music right now and for a multitude of reasons. They are exciting, vibrant, blisteringly fun, and taking over the world their way.
There is no dumbing down the concept of BROCKHAMPTON. What you see, what you hear, what you feel- it is all hand-crafted by the 14 person creative unit. There is all hands on deck in every step of the process. They produce the beats, attack the tracks as a team-each member taking alternating verses, and even film the music videos and artwork.
So when it came time for BROCKHAMPTON’s first big time national tour, excitement and expectations grew to astronomical heights. Currently, there are only two shows on the 50-something show tour that are not sold out. Every piece of merch instantly sells out online, and fans wait out in line for the group all day, even through cold and snow and rain.
At 4 p.m., the line of fans wrapped around the block of the venue, for a 9 p.m. show. Fans dressed in BROCKHAMPTON’s unique orange coveralls and blue face paint. They waited, they chanted, and as soon as the boyband stepped onstage, the crowd E-R-U-P-T-E-D.
The kind of energy produced in the first four songs was enough to make the air thick with moisture, the faces in the crowd covered and sweat, and power the crowd of mostly young teenagers through one of the most exciting shows in recent memory. The rambunctious 1-2-3-4 punch combination of “BOOGIE,” “QUEER,” “STAR,” and (my personal favorite song) “GUMMY,” rattled the room and personally made my legs weak and head light. Several times I had to fight for a decent breath of oxygen, but that might have been a result of screaming every single lyric.
It was a transcendentally fun night of rap music and pure wildness. BROCKHAMPTON has always dubbed themselves as “the best boyband since One Direction” and the statement really couldn’t be truer. Each member has a persona that is infectious and easily fanboy-able. If you ask 50 BROCKHAMPTON fans who their favorite member is, you’ll get 50 different answers. However, it is such a thrill to see them all onstage together, like a supergroup. A queer, diverse, eclectic, and outrageously fun supergroup. This is absolutely a must-see event.
Five songs into Jeezy’s blistering set in Kansas City last night, he halted the music and proclaimed that the show was postponed.
The hyped-up crowd, who have spent the night rapping, smoking, and turning up was suddenly brought careening back to earth.
But before the air was entirely left from the room, Jeezy stated, “let’s turn this show into a mothafucking Gangsta Party.” As the music blasted back out of speakers, fake snow erupted from cannons at the front of the stage, coating everyone in attendance in powder, courtesy of “The Snowman.”
There are few rappers who have as prolific a footprint as Jeezy. The Atlanta, Georgia icon began his reign in 2005 with the hit album Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101. This album was the streets in Atlanta. Out of every Cadillac, rattled speakers blasting “Standing Ovation,” “Trap Star,” “Bottom of the Map,” and pretty much every other song on this album. In fact, Kendrick Lamar even referenced it on his debut album Good Kid m.A.A.d City, when his friends sang in unison “last time I checked, I was the man in these streets.”
That’s what this music does. It emboldens the spirit. It gives life to the dread of the grind that is life. It pulls us up from the dirt and shows us that there can be something more. It’s all about finding the (thug) motivation within ourselves.
So when Jeezy took stage in Kansas City, it was a jubilant moment for the entire community. Everyone in the venue has had something in their lives that stopped them in their tracks, put them down, incarcerated them in doubt. It would make sense that an artist like Jeezy could get them through that.
The man has CHARISMA. He’s a natural performer. He sells these songs like a hungry battle rapper, putting his heart and soul into every syllable. He looks out at the crowd like a sea full of diamonds. He carries himself like the most confident rapper I’ve ever seen. Not even 50 Cent had this kind of swagger when I saw him years back.
Jeezy performed deep tracks from his storied discography, as well as new tracks off his latest album, “Pressure.” All of them, every song, was sung by the entire audience. I haven’t seen so many smiles from a crowd in a very long time.
Jeezy was supported by hard-nosed Detroit rapper Tee Grizzley, who is one of the fastest emerging rappers in the game. I first heard Grizzley’s music from an Instagram live video LeBron James posted of him working out to Grizzley’s song “First Day Out,” just a couple days after losing the NBA Championship. LeBron wasn’t just listening to the song, he was rapping along, pounding his fist to the beat, refusing to let the defeat get to him.
This is the epitome of Grizzley’s music: success in the face of adversity. In fact, “First Day Out” was released immediately after his freedom from a three year prison stint. To see him onstage, covered in diamonds— side note— rappers have started wearing multiple watches, like, I get it, you’re rich- but you really only need one watch. And even with one watch, a phone is the way most of us check the time. But back to Tee— to see him covered in diamonds and flexing a wad of cash, watching a crowd full of people rap along to his songs, is pretty triumphant. And Tee is a pretty awesome.
Rap shows can be a mess, but they can also be glorious. Sometimes rap shows can reduce what we all have to endure everyday, and lift up the joy that we save for life’s most precious moments. Jeezy made a crowd full of people happy and reminded us that it’s never too late to get it.
When taking photos of a rock show, it’s easy to be distracted by the band. These are the guys that are on stage, shrouded in fog and lights, slinging the expensive equipment, creating the sound. But there’s a moment, when you turn around, and take a look at the real rockstars: the fans. The folks who worked hard day in, day out, to buy a ticket to their favorite band’s show, got there early, wore their tattered t-shirt, and get to experience true effervescent, visceral joy. This joy dissolves all troubles in the world, just for a moment. This joy, this power that music brings, makes more sense to me than anything else ever could.
Drive By Truckers are a Southern rock/ alternative country band from Athens, Georgia, with a deep -fried Alabama sound. It’s the kind of crunchy, soulful, rebellious music that could soundtrack a dusty-road expedition, a cookout, maybe even a mild riot. That’s because this music just sounds BIG. It sounds like three guitarists trading solos, a bassist laying down heavy grooves, a heavy handed drummer, and two vocalists with pipes that can belt out with the kind of emotion that really moves people.
When DBT, as their fans know them, arrived in Kansas City, they carried a pride in their walk. It was a strut like they were so glad to be back on stage, and were ready to rock. Kansas City was their first show on their tour, and they had quite a bit to get off their chests. As singer Mike Cooley stated in a Rolling Stone interview, “These are fucked up times we’re living in.”
Written in a post-Trump era, the band’s latest album American Band, is their most political. Issues addressed in the music include gun violence, police brutality, political aggression against minority groups, and more gun violence. Scrawled on one of the amps onstage is a sign: “Black Lives Matter” written in all caps.
The weight of the music comes across in the live performance. The band, notably one of the more outspoken among their musical peers, dares to be bold. They dare to challenge their audience. They dare to wear their believes on their sleeves and play through songs like “Surrender Under Protest” and “Filthy and Fried” not because they are easy, but because they are hard. It is absolutely necessary to occupy this vital stage time breaking down the issues the band sees in America, while still providing a raucously fun rock show. Honestly, I don’t know how they do it, find the balance.
The show was one of those reminders that music is the most powerful instrument for change ever created. It’s always been a method for expressing our deepest emotions, happy or sad, exhilarated or disheartened. It can be heavy as a brick or light as a breeze. It can connect things or tear them apart. But no matter what the content, the feeling it creates in those who play it and those who listen it, is what keeps people going. This couldn’t be more true than when you turn around and notice those smiling, singing faces all around you, united, even for a moment in the sound.
There’s a tried and true expression that has found it’s way around many aspects of our lives. It comes from the great 1989 film Field of Dreams. It goes: “if you build it, they will come.” This sentiment can extend to music venues, restaurants and rock bands. If you rock hard enough, and well enough, a crowd of 2000 rowdy fans, hungry for that insatiable rhythm, will stand for hours and watch you wail.
Greta Van Fleet, the youthful and vibrant American rock band touched down in Lawrence, KS last Thursday to play a sold-out show at The Granada Theatre. The show was put on by the Kansas City alternative rock station X 101.5 FM.
As a collection of three brothers, Greta Van Fleet has a cohesiveness, a rhythm, a vibe that is truly unparalleled. These guys are seriously on the same wave length onstage, playing off each others’ energies, performing with a vigor that almost definitely took years of garage band practicing to perfect.
While performing, Greta Van Fleet is a wrecking ball of pure rocking power. The band opened with the sensational “Talk on the Street,” which shook the walls of the venue like an earthquake. In fact, the whole show could have charted on the Richter Scale.
“Edge of Darkness” is a booming and crushing track, with one of the band’s most catastrophic guitar riffs. The song builds and builds until the chorus stands 25 feet tall and could tackle a mountain. The power behind Josh Kiszka’s vocals is so strong as he belts out the lyrics “All my brothers we stand / For the peace of the land / Is there meaning / I’ve got love in my heart / For an army apart / I am bleeding.”
Then Jake Kiszka takes that six-stringed ax of his, and absolutely melts faces for about 6 minutes of pure, unadulterated guitar shredding. I’ve seen great guitar solos, and this was ranking in the top 5 of them.
The band belted out eight more high-octane rock tunes before sauntering off the stage. They eventually emerged for a fiendishly-craved encore. They performed two of their heaviest, more riff driven anthemic songs, “Highway Tune” and “Safari Song” to the ravenous crowd. That night, everyone in the venue was electrified by this pact of incredible brother musicians.
Even as I’m writing this, I’m reminded of the power I felt that night. The soul emitting from Josh’s voice, the insanity pouring out of Jake’s guitar, Sam’s booming bass. Everything about this band is impressive, and elevated to the highest power in a live setting. Greta Van Fleet’s sound is unlike anything else right now, and when they’re headlining major festivals, it will be because of the way they wow a crowd in towns like Lawrence, KS.
Remember 2009? Damn, what a good year! “I Gotta Feeling” was on the radio, Silly Bandz were stacked on our wrists, and this was the Internet craze your family sent you over and over
Those were simpler times, and the brighter days of ’09 feel so far away. But sometimes, a band, a song, an album is so powerful, it pulls you back to that year, and that feeling. That feeling only comes around rarely. That feeling happens during “Listzomania” and “1901” by the formidable French indie-rock troupe Phoenix.
During an incredible opening night of 96.5 FM’s “The Nights Buzz Stole Christmas” concert series, Phoenix brought their decadent lights, silky smooth music, and over-the-top cool persona to the Midland Theatre in Kansas City.
The band wasted no time kicking off the show. They opened with their latest hit, “J Boy” from new album Ti Amo, and then instantly gave the fans what they wanted to hear. They tore into a raucous rendition of “Lasso,” from 2009’s breakout album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. It won over the hearts of the large crowd within seconds of the song starting.
Over the course of the night, they continued to play gem after gem, hit after hit, until the dancefloor was theirs. “Rome,” “Girlfriend,” “Entertainment,” “Trying to be Cool,” and more. Relentless they were with the amount of hits they played. The band sounded insanely tight knit, and every guitar stroke or drum beat was impeccably perfected.
They closed with the stellar track “1901,” but that didn’t mean the show was over. Not by a long shot. Lead singer Thomas Mars strolled out into the crowd casually, carrying a microphone with a extended, light up red chord. He strutted through the entire crowd, before finally standing up above the fans. With balloons bouncing around him, he chugged a fan’s drink given to him, and surveyed the audience. He led the crowd in singing the final notes of “1901” and wished everyone goodnight. It was an extraordinary end to an extraordinary show.
Phoenix were supported by Hembree, a local Kansas City indie-rock band with a sound that is supremely ready for the biggest of stages. They truly have everything necessary for a successful band that will go the distance: incredibly catchy guitar riffs, pounding drum rhythms, fantastic lyrics, likable band members, and a readiness to have a fun time on stage that is infectious for the crowd, (i.e. their tremendously fun cover of the Gorillaz’ “DARE, that got the party going.)
While watching them onstage, I couldn’t help but imagine them on the festival circuit- starting low in the bill, playing the 3pm time slot, building an audience in the sunny afternoons. However, their audiences continue to build until they find themselves playing to the sunset, and maybe, just maybe, closing out the day. This may be idealistic, but I absolutely think that this is a capable goal for Hembree. Their love for music is palpable, and that kind of appreciation for the music, and the enjoyment of playing it for people, will get you far in this business.
The first opener of the evening was another local outfit, Y God Y. Led by Garrett Marsh, their sound is unique and inviting. Driven by warm synths, and spacey drum beats, Marsh’s voice carries the sound into another dimension. Their style is equally indie-rock and electronic-synth pop. The combination of styles works well for them, and they created a big hit with fans. With their Afentra-approved cosign, I can see this band growing into a prominent touring band, taking their weird and fantastic sounds on the road to audiences all over the world.
Shoebox Money, the Lawrence-based four piece blues-rock band can be found playing shows at an alarming rate. They’re almost consistently performing showcases and headlining gigs throughout the Midwest. The band has now released a compliation of live songs recorded at KKFI 90.1 in Kansas City, MO.
The first track, “Riverside” is a bluesy jam rock track that’s instantly catchy. The song is a party starter for sure, and the chorus is outrageously catchy. The heavy guitar riffs on this thing, and the hypnotic bassline make for a ludicrously likable hit.
The band shows their range by slowing things down on “Bring it Back.” Lead vocalist Ben Schenberg shows off his superb pipes on the crescendo-building hook. It’s a smooth jam with an unsuspecting chorus that hits like a homerun. The lyrics on this thing are phenomenal, and the guitar breaks unreal.
“Mary” is the slowest track on the release and allows the band to show off their bluesy side. The song sounds like a slow walk through a snowy and serene park at night. The emotive nature of the track cuts to the core as guitars dance delicately over Schenberg’s voice and bassist Patrick Spanier lays down a heavy riff.
The live session concludes with the barn-burner, “Lifeline.” The guitar shredding track is a hit in the making. The band punches with full force on this thing, and the result is something that could set a dancefloor on fire. There is life erupting from this song, and it’s impeccable pacing is stunning. The guitars, the drums, the lyrics, everything about this song crushes.
Shoebox Money have two shows this week, Friday at Davey’s Uptown in KC and Saturday at Kirby’s Beer Store in Wichita. They have more shows planned before December is up and will be touring the Midwest soon.
They also have their debut EP, “Chasing the Moon” dropping soon. Keep updated with everything Shoebox Money on their Facebook page