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When Concerts Blow Your Mind: Flying Lotus live at the Midland Theatre

When was the last time a concert blew your mind? Did you lose track of time while your jaw dropped to your feet? This kind of response is rare, and it takes a special show to cause this.

Flying Lotus took over the Midland Theatre on 11/16 with his incredible 3D show. In the space of the venue, he ascended to supersonic levels.

A Flying Lotus show is something to marvel at. There are few artists who create sounds so complex and challenging as FlyLo. His beats, which can span from hip-hop to freeform jazz to G-funk, incorporate some of the most eclectic sounds imaginable. They take so many turns, they could be mistaken for a race down the Autobahn.

FlyLo opened with some of his more ethereal, jazz-based jams, “Getting There” and “Computer Face/ Pure Being.” These songs were a good introduction to the weirdness that was going to become the night. Behind a large, asteroid-looking DJ table, a wildly braid-haired Steven Ellison, aka Flying Lotus, fiddled with controls and laid down the intense tracks. Behind him, a screen projected one of the wildest light shows I’ve ever seen.

The entire show was in 3D. What does that mean, exactly? After all, everything in life is 3D.

Well, every attendee at the show was given 3D glasses to effectively perceive the vision FlyLo was trying to portray. On the screen, colors and shapes flashed vividly, puzzles and landscapes became marbled and warped as they cascaded into each other. All of these visions erupted out of the screen and crawled toward the audience.

As the show progressed, FlyLo was handed a red solo cup, and the show took another, darker turn. It was time for Flying Lotus’ alter-ego, Captain Murphy, to arise. As the beat for “The Killing Joke” eerily crept in, like a demented lullaby, FlyLo grabbed the microphone and rapped every bar of the menacing verse.

The moment of the night occurred when Flying Lotus played his dark, spacious Earl Sweatshirt featuring “Between Friends” from the Adult Swim singles series. The beat is deadly and the crowd vibes to it in a major way. As FlyLo played Kendrick Lamar “Wesley’s Theory” followed by fellow BrainFeeder label artist, Thundercat’s “Friend Zone,” the show reached it’s climax.

Finally, FlyLo unleashed his ace in the hole, “Never Catch Me” featuring an unstoppable Kendrick verse and a blitzing bass solo.

During the show, cosmic beats collided with bombastic weirdness in a perfect space. The 3D imagery was perfectly conceptualized and completed. The beats thrown down were filthy and unexpected. The show was magnificent and bizarre.

There is no other way to watch a Flying Lotus show than with your mouth slack jawed and your mind blown.




Outrage! Is Now: Death From Above Bring the Noise to Kansas City

On Wednesday, Toronto indie-rockers Death From Above played a rambunctious and hard-hitting set at the Record Bar in Kansas City, MO. The two-piece tore the roof off the venue with their heavily distorted bass and bruising drums.

The world was a much different place when Death From Above 1979 released their acclaimed 2004 album “You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine.” The album was beloved by rock fans who were captivated by the amount of sound these two guys could create. The group then took a 10 year hiatus before returning with “The Physical World.” Now, back and better than ever, Death From Above performed in support of their new album “Outrage! Is Now.”

The band opened with the first song off the new album “Nomad,” which blared out of the speakers so loud that my earplugs almost seemed useless, as hearing damage was inevitable, and accepted. It just seemed like part of the deal of going to a Death From Above show.

The song “Virgins” pounded out of the enormous speaker stack the band had onstage as guitarist Jesse Keeler strummed his distortion-heavy bass guitar and vocalist Sebastian Grainger crashed into his drum kit while singing with amazing range. He shouted every word while hammering his drums, which is honestly one of the most impressive things ever.

Fans in the audience said that they have waited 10 years to see the band live and in person, and the energy in the room mirrored this feeling. Fans shouted every word along to “Turn It Out” the album’s opener, which screeches with aggression and absolutely blistering drums. Fists pumped emphatically in the air.

The unstoppably catchy song “Freeze Me” got every foot in the venue moving. The band experienced difficulties with the sampler while performing the track, but didn’t let it stop them.

The band concluded their regular set with a blistering trifecta of “Trainwreck 1979,” The Physical World” and crowd favorite “Romantic Rights.” During “Romantic Rights,” the band built the anticipation and power of the song until the exact right moment before unleashing the final chorus. The amount of energy the band produced during this song could crumble buildings and collapse regimes.

They closed their set with “Pull Out” which was a highlight of the night as it was a crowd request, and the fastest song played. During this track, the crowd pushed and shoved each other joyously, celebrating the rarity of seeing this band play live after so many years.

Death From Above sound exactly like their name. The sound produced by these two guys is staggering, and the catchiness of the songs makes listening incredibly easy. There is no doubt that the world is a better place with them in it, even if they’re best suited for soundtracking a riot, as the new album states, “Outrage! Is NOW.”

We Found Our November: Tyler the Creator Soars in Kansas City

Tyler The Creator performed in front of a sold-out audience at the Truman in Kansas City last night as a part of his Flower Boy tour. He played a majority of new songs, with some old gems thrown in the mix, and the fervent crowd loved every minute of it.

The charismatic rapper swooned to his die-hard fans with opener “Where This Flower Blooms” and the screaming audience made the first lines of the song inaudible. Tyler performed on an elevated platform on the stage where he danced like Kanye West, grooving wildly to the music.

Tyler then kicked the show into second gear with the blistering and guitar-heavy track “DEATHCAMP.” While Tyler shows his emphatic and loving side on Flower Boy, the Cherry Bomb opener is filled to the brim with crushing aggression. The barricade, separating the audience from the stage, rattled and shook like a thunderous earthquake was hitting the venue.

Tyler played around with these two vibes perfectly throughout the show, embarking on a sweet ballads like “Foreward,” or throwing down bombardments of sound like “IFHY.” On songs like “Tamale” the crowd jumped emphatically in the air and shook the ground.

The clear-cut sing-a-long favorite was Goblin standout “She” which the crowd recited perfectly and sung beautifully along to the Frank Ocean crooned chorus.

During the intro of “Who Dat Boy” Tyler asked every member of the audience “put your phones away. I want you to remember this.” The crowd did just that, and came the closest all night to bringing down the venue with their incredible energy.

It wasn’t all turning up though. Tyler lead the crowd in a beautiful recital of “November” leading into “Glitter.” These songs clearly resonated with the audience. When the show concluded with “See You Again,” fans hugged and smiled with warmness, because they had just seen their favorite artist live. It’s moments like that, proving that concerts are clearly more than just the music.

Tyler the Creator has seen a huge evolution in his career, and on “Flower Boy,” he is at his most musically focused and lyrically gifted. His honesty has never been so relatable and with the rate that he is elevating as a musician, the sky is absolutely the limit for the Odd Future commander-in-chief.



21 Savage and Offset are the new Freddie and Jason

Album of the Week

21 Savage, Offset, Metro Boomin- Without Warning Whenever two of the most popping artists join up for a project, it’s bound to attract an unbelievable amount of attention. For example: Kanye and Jay Z, Young Thug and Future, Lil Wayne and T-Pain. In this vein, artists will consistently continue to push the envelope of the album release by dropping these massive projects.

This week’s hottest album is a collaboration of 21 Savage and Offset (1/3 of the Migos.) It’s called Without Warning. This alone could be a project worth listening to. Two of the hottest rappers in the game trading bars. However, the album gets taken up a notch severely by the inclusion of powerhouse producer Metro Boomin, who crafted all of the beats on this thing.

This album was dropped on Halloween, as a surprise release. It couldn’t have been planned any better because these songs are scary. Scary good, scary aggressive, scary focused.

“Ghostface Killers” starts off the album with an icy and eerie beat. It sounds like church bells of a deserted town that was just ransacked by two gun-slinging outlaws. The chorus is impeccably catchy and is filled with Migos-famous adlibs. It’s a total boomer. 21 shows up sounding as calculating as a serial killer. Travis Scott also spontaneously shows up to take this thing over to edge.

“Nightmare” has an equally terrifying beat, sounding straight out of a horror movie. Makes sense that the chorus goes “Freddie Kruger, give ’em a nightmare / Soon as you close your eyes, nigga we right there.” Can you imagine a scarier scenario? You’re happily sleeping and then when you wake up, Offset and 21 Savage are in your room, undoubtedly holding heavy artillery.

The team of almost-certified-killers sounds most treacherous on “My Choppa Hates Niggas” which has an ominous flute on the beat and a little girl’s laughter randomly appearing. If there is anything scarier than a little girl laughing during a horror movie, than I don’t know what it is. I mean, those two little girls from The Shining still terrify me to this day.

As we’ve seen before, this formula works. Surprise release an album, have two or three enormous stars, and watch the internet implode. This will almost definitely continue happening, and I’m perfectly okay with that. These super albums are just part of the culture now.


Single of the Week

N.E.R.D. & Rihanna- “Lemon”

I’ve been waiting for new N.E.R.D. music for over three years now. The unstoppable production duo of Pharrell and Chad Hugo make the most accessible yet off-the-wall music of our generation. They also compile some of the biggest artists in the game to put on features, in unique ways. For their return single, “Lemon,” they come back in a major way.

On “Lemon” Pharrell bodies the first half of the track, which bounces around and bumps with unbelievable booming bass. Then, without any warning, RIHANNA COMES THROUGH SPITTING BARS! Rihanna raps better than 95% of the rappers doing it today, and she sounds so fucking cool. “It’s Rihanna nigga, my constellation is Space” she says, and honestly, she’s completely telling the truth. It’s Queen RiRi’s world, and we don’t deserve to occupy space, but I’m so glad we do.

Music Videos of the Week

Rich Tha Kid & Kendrick Lamar – “New Freezer”

This song is a feel good banger. This is just a really fun time to watch. The beat is a boomer with some insane bass line ripping through this thing. It clicks and clanks around while Rich Tha Kid flexes throughout the his verse. The reason this is a music video of the week is because we get to see Kendrick Lamar rap his verse, looking unbelievably cool in a Lakers sweatsuit, eating Chinese take-out. If that’s not the best thing you’ve seen all week, you must be having a pretty good week.


The War on Drugs – “Nothing to Find”

So this music video is incredible, and it’s incredibly simple. A young girl is on the road with a plant man. He’s a man made out of plants. They dance, the shoplift, they are best friends. Until life, as it tends to do, gets the best of us. The emotional ending of this thing is a lot to handle. You don’t think it’ll hit you as hard as it does, but next thing you know, you’re at a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf spilling tears into your Green tea and the saltiness is kind of nice, but you wish it wasn’t there.


Craig Finn Amazes in Kansas City with Literary Solo Set

The Pen is mightier than the sword. That’s what they say. Now I’ve never seen a sword, and I don’t know much about armory, but who in the indie-rock world is mightier with the pen than Craig Finn?

Craig Finn and his backing band, the Uptown Controllers played an intimate and powerful show at the Record Bar in Kansas City, MO on October 17. The Hold-Steady leader, and prolific lyricist rattled off nearly an hour and a half of his solo-work to a room of dedicated and literary-inclined fans.

A story, a tidbit about the past, a joke, often punctuated each song or lead seamlessly into the next track. Finn reflected on such heady topics as: fear, faith, love, pain, loss, and finally honesty. “We have to be honest with one another,” was his response to the insanity that seems to found itself into society today.

As if he was an author, reading off pages of his latest work, Finn and his band strummed coolly through several tracks off his latest album, “We All Want the Same Things.” Some crowd favorites were “Jester and June,” “Preludes,” and a solo-acoustic performance of “Tangletown” that was especially emotionally hard-hitting.

Finn made eye contact with every member of the crowd, and would interact in banter with folks about baseball, books, and politics. It was the most transparent show I’ve seen all year.

With an artist as skilled with the pen as Craig Finn, each word hangs on the one before it. Each line anticipates the next.  I found myself listening to the songs like reading a book I didn’t want to put down.

Craig Finn can be explosive with his singing and performing, or he can be subtle and thoughtful. During his performance at the Record Bar, he was both, in equal parts, for maximum effect. The show didn’t feel overly folksy, but definitely didn’t feel like a regular rock show. Imagine Bob Dylan in Greenwich, Neil Young in Tennessee. Craig Finn in Kansas City.


The Pixies Captivate Kansas City, Perform Epic 34 Song Set


Some rock bands weren’t meant to last. The Smiths, Girls, Oasis. The hours spent arguing over E-chords over G-chords and crammed in a van can rip apart bands more quickly than an STD. Then there are bands that, defiant in the face of unrelenting conflict, persist.

Last night, one of these persistent groups, The Pixies, put on an absolute ripper of a show at the Midland Theatre in Kansas City. They performed an absurd number of tracks, played back-catalog tracks with impeccable skill, and kept the crowd captivated for nearly 2 hours.

The Pixies are indie-rock royalty as far as I’m concerned. And to a nearly sell-out audience, their no-bull shit rock shows are a must-go event. The amount of hits they’ve racked up, including the easy 10 on 1989’s Doolittle alone, make for an unbelievably interesting concert experience. They have at least another 20 hits on other albums, and just relased a new record. All and all, they played 34 songs. Unheard of.

Black Francis, the mastermind of the group, held up like a fucking champion the entire show. He was funny, yet brief with his comments- he and the rest of the band, chugging right along with song after song.

Of course, there were the heavy-hitters. The tracks that got everyone in the venue excited. “Where Is My Mind?,” “Wave of Mutilation,” and “Hey” all were stunningly performed with skill and uniqueness. As I would expect from a band who has played these tracks upwards of 10 million times.

My favorite of the hits was the stellar rendition of “Here Comes Your Man.” It was thrilling to see the song performed live finally, as I’ve loved it for years, and consistently sing it in karaoke, hoping to sound half as good as Joseph Fucking Gordon Levitt and win over a Zooey Deschanel 

Opening artist, Mitsky, stunned the rest of the audience with her subtle yet heart-demolishing indie rock. I say the rest of the audience because I have loved everything about Mitsky since I heard the fuzzy, distorted guitars and superb lyricism of “Townie”

Since then, everything she has done has been stellar, and absolutely nothing less. Her bold and excellent sophomore album Puberty 2, was atop my best albums list of 2016.

During her stop in Kansas City, she certainly proved her awesomeness with each and every song played. Each track garnered more applause and cheering than the one preceding it.

The entire show was a display that indie rock is still alive and well. Further, there are thousands of people who love The Pixies. The Pixies too proved that they love their fans and are capable of playing and sounding like they’re 30 still.

Benjamin Booker Soulfully Slays Lawrence, KS

The neo-Soul revival, which includes artists such as Leon Bridges, Gary Clark Jr., Jacob Banks, and more, touched down in Lawrence, KS last night when Benjamin Booker played his guitar at the Bottleneck.

Booker, a young and quickly ascending musician from Virginia Beach, VA played to a semi-packed, dimly lit room and astonished everyone in it with his soulful, dusty voice and unbelievably skilled guitar playing. Together with his tight-knit four piece band, Booker ramshackled through an hour long set.

The vibe Booker puts out is a young soul artist way beyond his years. His voice sounds airy and gravelly, with an inflection of hurt within the words. As any good soul singer will testify to, the backbone of soul is this deep, confounding hurt. The kind of pain that drives you to strum that guitar in such a way that everyone listening can tell, damn this guy’s been through it. 

But Booker’s style isn’t just soul, his sound incorporates a lot of rock and roll as well as the blues. On songs like “Wicked Waters” he rocks out to a fast-paced, riff-driven melody. On tracks like “Witness,” he incorporates the blues into a smooth, gospel-y sound that sounds warm and vintage.

“Have You Seen My Son” is a wild rocking song that stays tight in the pocket before unleashing into a hair-raising chorus. It’s a fiery song that could easily find a home on a work out playlist and sounds superb in a life setting.

Booker’s ability to sound both new and old is what makes him so appealing. His voice and his music sounds like a throwback, but it’s still new enough to be cutting edge and fresh.

His voice is able to capture a mood, a feeling that is truly unique. For someone so young to be able to have such a diverse sound is incredibly impressive. Benjamin Booker is at the beginning of a very long and successful career, and his first impression last night at the Bottleneck is an indication of that.


The XX Prove Music Is Stronger than Hate

Concerts can be, and should be, much bigger than music. They can be momentous culminations of emotions, anticipation, freedom, and life. Lately, they have been covered in a shade of darkness following the horrific events in Las Vegas.

As a festival-goer myself, I still can’t look at some of the photos. I know I have to, I just can’t yet. That’s my hometown, and that’s my life. I have always said that festivals are my favorite thing in the world because it’s three days full of music, sunshine, friends, vice.

So the day after a mass shooting at an outdoor concert, I decided to attend an outdoor concert. The XX performed on October 3 at the Starlight Theatre in Kansas City, MO.

I think the band could feel the heaviness in the air, the palpable shift in tone, as I’ve always believed bands can do. They somehow have this sixth sense called crowd control- knowing how the crowd is receiving the music and can play to that. This night in specific, they played to a crowd of fans who had to view concerts under a new scope.

The XX played with extraordinary grace and substance. They first got attention with their dramatic, emotional mood music, drenched in passion and heavy feelings, like love, hope, loss, and devotion. As The XX glided their way through their silky smooth set, the songs flowed like honey- sweet and sticky. The crowd stuck on each syllable, each bass lick, each soaring guitar note.

The band’s new material “Say Something Loving” and “Dare” sounded like a depressive disco, and felt a little like a Joy Division song walked into a seedy dance club. “Fiction,” lead by bassist Oliver Sim was a highlight and instantly transported the crowd to the place they were when they first heard those lyrics, “Fiction, when we’re not together.”

The surprise hit of the night was the Jamie XX helmed “Loud Places,” which was featured on his exemplary album, Colours. The song is both extremely dancey and heart-wrenching. It tells the story of people who shared love at the club, now only to go to those same clubs alone, and how empty they feel without that person. This song resonated with the crowd on another level.

Finally, the performances of new classic, “On Hold” mixed with their biggest hit to date, “Angels,” from sophomore album, Coexist, allowed the crowd to truly melt away into pure bliss. It was truly during these songs that the air in the sky was alleviated of any heaviness and only the music remained.

Multiple times during the set, the band would thank the crowd profusely for coming to the show. They knew. They are perfectly aware that the crowd could have let the fear win and stayed home. I’m sure plenty of them did. But the ones who decided that fear cannot win, and that music is healing and transformative, they knew too that The XX were here for them. Romy Madley Croft the lead guitarist said that she felt homesick, but the Kansas City crowd fixed that, even if just for the time they were on stage. And the same can be said for me.

Goldlink Electrifies at a Fiery Show In Lawrence


Goldlink touched down at The Granada Theatre last night to perform an electrifying show, sponsored by KJHK 90.7 and SUA.

Goldlink is almost too talented. Almost to the point of being unfair to everyone else. Not only can he rap faster than 98% of the rappers in the game, he can sing and perform like a true pro. His style and his vibe elevate him from the rest of the genre. All of these components came together during his extraordinary live show.


Something that Goldlink is especially special at is his rapping ability. His toned down, mellow voice allows for his cadence to ride the beat so effortlessly. It’s like he’s running down directions of how to catch the E-Train so fast that you know you’ll get lost as soon as he finishes his sentence. His words form these parables and loops that are so infectious to listen to.

On songs like “Herside Story” he is able to dance over the melodic track and find flows I never imagined possible. He tells stories that are so relatable and his words are believable. On tracks like “Kokomoe Freestyle” he unleashes some of the fieriest bars on top of an absolute bruiser of a beat. This song is absolutely unreal, and could be any artist’s best song by a couple miles. When performing this song live, the crowd became unruly in the best possible way. Hands were flying in the air as every eye stayed on Goldlink, who delivered every word perfectly. The beat knocked hard like the next door neighbors when you play this song too loud.

It’s a testiment to how good Goldlink is that “Kokomoe Freestyle” is not his best song. That came at the end of his set. For his final song, Goldlink performed his biggest hit to date, “Crew,” a possible song-of-the-year choice. The melody on this song, the movie-esque sound, the chorus, which is catchy as hell, and Goldlink’s crushing verse played out on stage like an anthem. The crowd went absolutely ape for this song, rapping along to every word, singing the chorus like it’s a Weeknd song. They even knew every word of Shy Glizzy’s verse. Goldlink was so impressed that he performed the song twice in a row.


During his performance in Lawrence, Goldlink played through most of his new album, At What Cost, as well as some older gems. It was a vibrant and electric show that ended far too soon. He could have performed for another hour and the crowd would have eaten every song up like a snack.


Goldlink is a rare talent, one that will be revealed in time. He’s already gained recognition for “Crew,” but his star path is on a major ascension. This guy is talented enough to be the next big thing, so don’t wait. See him when he comes to your town.


Find Goldlink’s Tour Dates here