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BREAKING: 80/35 Festival Proves the Midwest to be, in fact, Best

DES MOINES IS NOT HERE TO PLAY GAMES!

Okay, now that we have that out our systems, let’s talk about Des Moines disrespect, before we attack this absolutely incredible festival lineup.

There will be no Des Moines slander up in here. It is a magical city with charm and kind, warm folks. And they have really cool stuff, i.e. the 80/35 non-profit Festival.

This is a festival that knows who it is and what it is bringing to music fans in the Midwest and nationwide.

From headliners Father John Misty’s prophetic and lamenting beautiful prose to Charli XCX’s syrupy sweet hyperpop, filled with iconic earworms from the not-forgotten eras of dance and fun!

Jamila Woods is one of the greatest poets of our day and Japanese Breakfast is putting on the best show in music right now. Check out M. Zauner aka J Brekkie, aka THE GOAT before she wins her Oscar. ūüĎÄ

Not to mention that this festival supports countless of human beings, families, pets, businesses, and the world around us and the air we breathe. So you’ll literally be saving the world by going.

BUY TICKETS AT: https://www.80-35.com/

Weekends are for Dancing: Joywave & Sir Sly // November 2 @ Truman Theater

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.

Don’t miss “Gold,” “Fun,” and “&Run”

A Downpour at the Slow Show: The National live in Kansas City

The National’s music is notoriously depressing. Their music paints the picture of despair, heartbreak, and sorrow- so much so that “Sorrow” is the title of one of their songs. It’s the kind of music that can bring tears to your eyes. Luckily for me, and the attendees of their October 7th Kansas City show, it was pouring rain out, so nobody could tell I was crying.

Indie-rock vets from Cincinnati, the National, strode through Kansas City and brought their saddest record to date, Sleep Well Beast, with them. These downtrodden tracks found dancey life under a shroud of furiously beating down rain. Under the veil of wet, and cloaked by plastic ponchos, the crowd let loose in musical freedom of expression and euphoria.

The National’s show could best be described as the world ending all around us, so why not dance? Singer Matt Berninger often found himself striding into the crowd head first, standing on chairs, holding onto peoples’ heads for stability, and throwing beers around- just generally being a wild ball of chaos in a fiery rainstorm.

“Bloodbuzz, OH” and “Graceless” were racuous showstoppers, while “Dark Side of the Gym” and “I Need My Girl” brought all the soaked, plastic-wrapped lovers to a slow sway.

“Fake Empire” as a closer is always a staple for the National, and in these politically heated times, Berninger said “This wasn’t written for these times, but it might as well have been.”

For the encore, “Terrible Love” lit the fuse and “Mr. November” blew the place to smithereens. Amongst the rubble, we all rose our voices together in harmony to sing along to “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks.”

A beautiful night full of the ups and downs, crazy emotional rampages and quiet embraces that make up a life. Maybe that’s why the National’s music is so sad— it’s relatable. It’s us, it’s life, it is what it is. At the end of the day, whether wet or dry, happy or sad, we can all say that the concert meant something to us.

 

Brace for Impact: The National Touch Down in Kansas City

There are few bands as emotionally captivating as The National. Cincinnati’s finest have played to small clubs and large festival crowds for years. While their sound and style has evolved and expanded over time, one thing has remained the same, the reaction one feels when they hear their music.

On October 7th, The National bring their brooding, bracing and bold repertoire of tunes to the Starlight Theatre in Kansas City. The indie-rock greats will be supporting their Grammy-winning album Sleep Well Beast.

Seeing The National perform live is an unforgettable experience. The music touches the soul in such a way that immediately elicits emotion- pain, pride, and of course, “Sorrow.” Combine the beautiful artistry of the band’s sound with singer Matt Berninger’s gruff growl and coarse and snarling drawl. His deep bellow on record translates to hyper shouts and riveting stage presence.

Berninger and Co. have been playing live since 2001 and have only gotten better and better, more precise, more biting, and more poignant. Can’t miss tracks include “Mr. November,” “Bloodbuzz, OH,” and “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness.”

Tickets can be found here: https://www.kcstarlight.com/events/event-detail-production/the-national-2018

Adventure Awaits at Marfa Myths 2018

Music festivals come in all shapes, sizes- blending genres and breaking on through to the weirder side of life. How else would you describe 4 days in Far West Texas, listening to an eclectic grouping of bands and artists while transcending the very concept of what a weekend could be?

Marfa Myths is an annual experience that breaks all boundaries of what a music festival can be. Merging art installations, mind-bending scenery, and diverse music spanning all sounds and styles- somewhere in the deserts of Marfa, Texas, something unique is happening next weekend.

Packing one of the most diverse and expansive lineups of the year, Marfa never lacks a jaw-dropping combination of national and local acts. This year, Allah-Las, Circuit Des Yeux, Drugdealer, Helado Negro with an Ensemble (!), Jessica Pratt, Wire, and The Weather Station, along with several others will be transforming the landscape of Marfa into a multidisciplinary sonic-scape.

Each year, Marfa Myths features rare artist residencies, and this year, the dynamic duo of Cate Le Bon and Bradford Cox¬†(Deerhunter,¬†The Atlas Sound) will be blending their styles into musical exploration.¬†Even more heartwarming,¬†Connan Mockasin¬†and his dad¬†Ade Mockasin¬†will be playing songs spanning their generations. This will be a can’t miss experience.

There is simply too much awesomeness going on to not take a journey down to West Texas. You never know what you’ll experience, how it’ll shift your perspective, and where the festival will spiritually take you. You’ll just have to dive in head first and wade in the waters. You’ll be glad you did.

Find much more information on Marfa Myths and buy tickets here: https://marfamyths.com/

 

BROCKHAMPTON’s STAR power BOOGIES in a SWEET sold out show

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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.

Jeezy Puts On for Kansas City

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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.

 

Drive By Truckers Cruise Through Kansas City

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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.

 

 

Greta Van Fleet Stun A Sold Out Crowd

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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.

 

 

 

Phoenix Bring Nostalgia, Unstoppable Hits to the Midland

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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.

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