If the annual Buzz Beach Ball festival is a referendum on the state of indie rock, this weekend’s bill indicates that traditional guitar-based rock is making a comeback.
Computer-generated chillwave, synthesizer-based dance music and sincere neo-folk have been favored by alternative rock radio stations such as Kansas City’s 96.5 the Buzz in recent years. Yet two conventional rock ’n’ roll bands — Alabama Shakes and Cage the Elephant — top the bill of this year’s Buzz Beach Ball festival.
Cage the Elephant, the headliner on Saturday, works in the brawny tradition of the White Stripes.
Sunday’s headliner, Alabama Shakes, is even more formidable. Fronted by powerhouse vocalist Brittany Howard, the blues rock band is one of the most substantive influences in modern rock. Their excellent recordings and dynamic live shows make the ensemble a worthy successor to the Rolling Stones.
The presence of the exceptionally loud Eagles of Death Metal is also particularly noteworthy. Sunday’s appearance is the band’s first Kansas City area show since the terrorist attack at its concert at the Bataclan in Paris last November.
Three Kansas City groups are among the less abrasive 21 additional acts performing at Buzz Beach Ball. Saturday’s bill includes the jangly Hembree and the spirited pop-rock of Brave the Spirit. The folk-based son-and-mother duo Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear have earned a prestigious slot in the lineup on Sunday.
2 p.m. Saturday, July 16, and 2 p.m. Sunday, July 17. Children’s Mercy Park. 800-653-8000. beachballkc.com. $35-$131 in advance for Saturday and $45-$131 in advance for Sunday.