Music News & Reviews

May 20, 2014

Top music shows this week around Kansas City

From a Blues Cruise Reunion at Knuckleheads to Skillrex at Cricket Wireless Amphitheater, there’s a stop for everyone.

Hoodie Allen

Thursday at Czar Bar

The fervent fantasies of hundreds of young women were dashed when tickets for Hoodie Allen’s appearance at the Czar Bar sold out almost immediately. The up-and-coming teen idol works in the style associated with a new breed of crossover rappers spearheaded by Mac Miller. Hoodie Allen, the man born as Steven Markowitz in 1988, primarily raps about taking advantage of his burgeoning career by breaking the hearts of his admirers. He’ll be able to interact with every member of his audience at the intimate Czar Bar.

Tickets were $30 in advance through The show is officially sold out.

Tivon Pennicott with Dominique Sanders

Thursday at the Blue Room and Friday at Take Five Coffee + Bar

Contemporary hit-makers like D’Angelo are no less important than jazz giants like Art Blakey among a new wave of jazz musicians. The resulting groove-based music is winning over a new audience. The leading practitioner of the movement is Esperanza Spalding, the winner of the Grammy Award for best new artist in 2011. Tivon Pennicott, a saxophonist who has worked with Spalding and likeminded jazz stars including Gregory Porter, will be featured at three area shows. He’ll be backed by versatile bassist Dominique Sanders, keyboardist Andrew Ouellette and drummer John Kizilarmut.

Thursday’s show at the Blue Room is free. The cover charge for Friday’s show at Take Five Coffee + Bar is $10

Blues Cruise Reunion

Friday-Sunday at Knuckleheads

The three-day Blues Cruise Reunion serves as an annual gathering of veterans of the blues-themed cruises organized by a Kansas City-based company. But even blues fans who have no intention of climbing aboard a boat would be foolish to miss the rare area appearance of Otis Clay on Saturday. The old-school vocalist who combines the silkiness of Al Green with the gruff testifying of Otis Redding will be backed by a 10-piece band. Clay will share the bill with an ensemble led by guitarist Rick Estrin. Royal Southern Brotherhood kicks off the weekend on Friday, while Ronnie Baker Brooks and Eden Brent perform Sunday.

Tickets are $20 in advance for each night through


Friday at the Granada

The sleek fusion of electronica and indie-pop that recently began dominating the playlists of modern rock radio stations is nothing new to longtime fans of Metronomy. The London-based ensemble has been ahead of the times since its formation 15 years ago. The project led by Joseph Mount may not be as well known as many of the acts it has inspired, but enlightened members of the in-crowd will be packed into the Granada to dance to the band’s trend-setting dance-pop. Cloud Control, an Australian band that has followed the path partly blazed by Metronomy, opens the show.

Tickets are $15 in advance through


Friday at the Riot Room

Those who have sung along to Young the Giant or danced to Imagine Dragons might suspect they’ve been backing the wrong horse when confronted with the sparkling music of Geographer. The San Francisco-based band performs an exceptionally ingratiating form of radio-ready electro-pop. Michael Deni’s ravishing voice and the submerged soul crafted by his bandmates Nathan Blaz and Brian Ostreicher represents a stylish refinement of the profitable formula. The homespun pop of Pioneer, a project led by Kansas City’s Chase Castor, and Orthon Anderthon, a locally based offbeat folk-rock trio, open the show.

Tickets are $10 in advance through


Saturday at Cricket Wireless Amphitheater

Skrillex’s many detractors suggest that the DJ and producer is a talentless button-pusher who managed to ride the dubstep craze to stardom. “Recess,” the new album by the diminutive man born as Sonny Moore, suggests that a great set of ears is the key to his success. The collection is a carefree survey of Jamaican dancehall, old-fashioned disco, good-time hip-hop and riotous funk punctuated by explosive dubstep drops. The second date of Skrillex’s the Mothership Tour promises to be a feel-good party. The celebratory music of Los Angeles’ Dillon Francis, the Australian duo What So Not and trap duo Milo & Otis are along for the ride.

Tickets are $45.50 in advance through

Westport Roots Festival

Saturday on two stages in Westport

Billy Joe Shaver is accustomed to overshadowing other musicians. He’s far and away the most notable artist at the Westport Roots Festival. In addition to writing classic songs like “Live Forever” and “Honky Tonk Heroes,” the legendary Texas troubadour continues to live a colorful life loaded with stellar highs and devastating lows. Most of the two dozen complementary acts are hometown heroes. Locally based honky-tonk traditionalists Rex Hobart & the Misery Boys and Outlaw Jim & the Whiskey Benders are among the noteworthy acts that will appear on the festival’s two stages.

Tickets are $28 in advance through

The Pharmacy

Saturday at the Replay Lounge

As pop stars and practitioners of electronic dance music fill large venues, the garage-rock revival continues to thrive underground. The Pharmacy, a band formed a dozen years ago in Washington, typifies the stealthy trend. The trio’s splendid repertoire falls into two categories. Selections like “Josephine” resemble long-lost songs by the Kinks, complete with English accents and the slightly tinny recording aesthetics of 1967. On exceptional songs like “Dig Your Grave,” the Pharmacy expertly apes the psychedelic sound of vintage bands like the 13th Floor Elevators. The show will open with the scuzzy attack of Kansas-based garage rock duo Mr. & the Mrs.

The cover charge is $3. Details are available at

Abigail Williams

Tuesday at the Riot Room

Metal fans for whom vocalists can’t shriek loudly enough, drummers can’t play fast enough and guitarists can’t shred ferociously enough will find satisfaction at the Riot Room. The return of the black metal band Abigail Williams represents an unexpected resurrection of sorts for the evil-minded ensemble. Founded 10 years ago in Arizona, Abigail Williams called it quits in 2012. A revamped lineup will bring the noise on Tuesday. South Carolina’s Lecherous Nocturne will contribute a potent dose of brutality to the bill. Panzerfaust, a correspondingly violent band from Toronto, opens the metal blowout.

Tickets are $8 in advance through

Trans Am

Wednesday, May 28, at the RecordBar

Trans Am is partly to blame for the fragmented state of rock ’n’ roll. Founders of the post-rock movement, Trans Am began tinkering with radically disparate elements including European electronic rock, grunge and dance music in 1990. The band’s innovative experiments on influential albums such as 1997’s “Surrender to the Night” resulted in the proliferation of the usage of awkward hyphenated terminology like indie-electronica. San Francisco’s Kelley Stoltz, an acclaimed innovator in the tradition of Harry Nilsson, and Major Games, a shoegaze-oriented band from Lawrence, open the show.

Tickets are $12 in advance through

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