Neutral Milk Hotel
By BILL BROWNLEE
Special to The Star
Thursday at the Uptown
Very few acts are as revered as the project led by the reclusive Jeff Mangum. Neutral Milk Hotel’s 1998 album “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” is widely considered to be one of the genre’s defining statements. The news that Mangum would perform last year at Lawrence’s Liberty Hall was ecstatically received by area fans of the iconic indie-rocker. Although Mangum’s appearance at the Uptown Theater hasn’t been greeted with a similar level of giddy excitement, the concert still sold out (though some tickets may be available today through Ticketmaster or ticket brokers). Elf Power, an inspired group of Mangum’s co-conspirators in the Elephant Collective consortium, opens the show.
The show is officially sold out, but check Ticketmaster.com for new ticket information.
Thursday at Knuckleheads
Eleni Mandell has been making distinctively unconventional music for more than 15 years. The Los Angeles-based artist’s offbeat inclinations have been toned down on the new album she recorded in London with members of Nick Lowe’s band. “Let’s Fly a Kite” is considerably more upbeat than Mandell’s previous work, which has elicited comparisons to Tom Waits and Fiona Apple. Mandell’s tour mate, Vikesh Kapoor, is another hyper-intelligent singer/songwriter. Kapoor’s primary influence isn’t difficult to detect. He often sounds almost exactly like a young Bob Dylan.
Tickets are $12 in advance through knuckleheadshonkytonk.com.
Thursday at the Bottleneck
When rap icon Snoop Dogg assumed the new persona of the reggae-oriented Snoop Lion a couple of years ago, he might have been inspired in part by J Boog. Born in Compton, Calif., 14 years after Snoop Dogg, J Boog blends street-oriented hip-hop with soothing reggae. J Boog’s approach is significantly more convincing than Snoop Dogg’s shift. His summery songs like “Let’s Do It Again” are as refreshing as a cool summer breeze. With roots in Panama, the two members of the California-based opening act Los Rakas create vital reggaeton-inflected hip-hop.
Tickets are $13 in advance through thebottlenecklive.com.
Afentra’s VD Party
Friday at the Midland
Kitten went from goat to hero in Kansas City in 2013. The Los Angeles-based band’s set at Ink’s Middle of the Map Fest in April made headlines for all the wrong reasons. When it became apparent that vocalist Chloe Chaidez was in no condition to perform, the band’s set was cut short after just a few minutes. A few months later at an all-day festival at Berkley Riverfront Park, Kitten made up for that unfortunate misstep with a dynamic set of riveting synth-pop. Denmark’s New Politics and Philadelphia’s Man Man — two appealing pop bands with a sterling reputation among indie-rock fans — serve as opening acts at the radio station-sponsored Afentra’s VD Party concert.
Admission is free. Details are available at 965thebuzz.com.
Opening for Lady Antebellum Saturday at the Sprint Center
While her victories may not have shocked the world, the recognition Kacey Musgraves received at January’s Grammy Awards almost certainly upset the conservative elements of the country music establishment. In addition to performing her gay-friendly song “Follow Your Arrow” at the awards show, Musgraves claimed the prize for best country song for her bleak “Merry Go Round.” Her subversive “Same Trailer Different Park” was named best country album. Musgraves serves as one of two opening acts for the polished country powerhouse Lady Antebellum on Saturday. Kip Moore, best known for his hit “Something ’Bout a Truck,” rounds out the bill.
Tickets range from $39.50 to $94.50 in advance through axs.com.
Love Hangover Show
Saturday at the RecordBar
Even the sweetest love songs can sound vicious to brokenhearted listeners around Valentine’s Day. That dichotomy has made the Love Hangover Shows a day-after holiday tradition in several American cities. The 2014 edition in Kansas City features four sets of lovelorn duets by locally based artists. Saturday’s matinee show is headlined by members of the Americana band the Blackbird Revue. Victor & Penny will perform sepia-toned love songs. Accomplished folk singers Sara Swenson and Barclay Martin will team up for a set of melancholy songs. The show begins with the pairing of Kasey Rausch and Patrick Deveny, bandmates in the honky-tonk band the Naughty Pines.
Tickets are $8 in advance through therecordbar.com.
Sunday at Municipal Auditorium
Although the ensemble hasn’t released a studio album for more than 20 years, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly continues to headline concerts in arenas and at major festivals. The abiding affection fans have for timeless hits like “Joy and Pain” and “Back in Stride” seems to grow stronger with each passing year. Three compelling acts will open for the R&B institution on Sunday. The silky pop vocalist El DeBarge was featured on hits including his family band’s “Rhythm of the Night” and on solo material like the one-time MTV staple “Who’s Johnny.” Precursors of Destiny’s Child, SWV scored hits in the 1990s including the delectable ballad “Weak.” Rap pioneer Slick Rick rounds out the bill.
Tickets range from $47 to $77 in advance through ticketmaster.com.
Tuesday at the Granada
One of the most intriguing segments of the 2013 BET Awards was a performance billed as a tribute to “blue-eyed soul” that showcased the contributions of Jon B. and Bobby Caldwell. Mayer Hawthorne is part of that time-honored tradition. His re-creation on hits like “The Walk” of sounds associated with the Spinners and Smokey Robinson & the Miracles has injected a shot of old-fashioned soul into the playlists of commercial radio stations. Hawthorne’s love of vintage R&B is best appreciated during his exuberant live presentations. Quadron, a vibrant soul-based pop duo from Denmark, opens the show.
Tickets are $18 in advance through thegranada.com.
Opening for Bruce Robison Wednesday at Knuckleheads
Headliner Bruce Robison is a honky-tonk mainstay, but the unique attraction of Wednesday’s triple bill at Knuckleheads is a rare area appearance by Jim Croce’s talented son. A.J. Croce has been making compelling Beatles-oriented pop for more than a decade. His new album, “Twelve Tales,” features contributions from legends including Allen Toussaint and the late Cowboy Jack Clement. Austin’s Robison is best known for writing country songs including “Angry All the Time,” the smash 2001 duet by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. Rod Picott, a journeyman singer/songwriter based in Nashville, opens the show.
Tickets are $15 in advance through knuckleheadshonkytonk.com.
Wednesday at the Riot Room
2013 was supposed to be the year of Lucius. When the year opened, the Brooklyn-based retro-pop ensemble was perfectly positioned to conquer the indie-rock world. Then Haim — a heavily hyped act featuring three sisters — came along. Much of the breathless attention Haim received might otherwise have gone to Lucius. Rather than appearing at large theaters, consequently, Lucius is capturing hearts and minds at relatively intimate venues such as the Riot Room. You Won’t, an ingratiating duo from Boston, opens Wednesday’s show with imaginative left-of-center folk-rock.
Tickets are $12 in advance through theriotroom.com.
Bill Brownlee, Special to The Star