This week’s top KC concerts: Little Tybee, Pat Metheny with Bruce Hornsby, Matthew Sweet

07/23/2014 7:00 AM

07/21/2014 1:58 PM

Miniature Tigers

Thursday at the Jackpot

Hits by stars like Iggy Azalea and Sam Smith are dominating this year’s version of the annual debate about the song of the summer. Anyone who has heard “Swimming Pool Blues,” however, is likely to insist that the song by Brooklyn’s Miniature Tigers defines the steamy months of 2014. The chorus of the effervescent indie-pop song — “If we swim, we can make it/ I wanna make it with you” — is irresistible. Australia’s the Griswolds open the show. As might be expected of a band named for Chevy Chase’s hapless cinematic family, the Griswolds perform fun-loving dance-pop.

Tickets are $10 in advance through

Little Tybee

Thursday at RecordBar

If Vampire Weekend were from Atlanta rather than New York City, the indie rock band might have sounded like Little Tybee. Meticulously arty and rhythmically advanced, Little Tybee’s music will instantly resonate with fans of Vampire Weekend. Yet the differences between the two ensembles are subtle but important. The Georgia band seems more relaxed than Vampire Weekend, a divergence enhanced by the stringed instrumentation of Nirvana Kelly. Two area ensembles open the show. Ren is a new group featuring local luminaries Vi Tran and Megan Zander. Orthon Anderthon plays atmospheric rock.

Tickets are $8 in advance through

Lil Debbie

Thursday at the Riot Room patio

Lil Debbie’s arresting fashion sense and exaggerated approach to hip-hop are so outrageous that it’s impossible to know with certainty that she’s not conducting an elaborate hoax. As a member of the White Girl Mob, she co-starred in the Kreayshawn video for “Gucci Gucci” that has been viewed more than 47 million times. “Michelle Obama,” her absurd 2012 collaboration with Riff Raff, rhymes the surnames of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer and the first lady. Lil Debbie continues to subvert the hyphy hip-hop tradition of her Bay Area home into high-concept performance art on her new “California Sweetheart” EP. Kansas City’s DJ Spinstyles and Chase Compton will also entertain.

Tickets are $15 in advance through

7 Seconds

Friday at Czar Bar

The members of 7 Seconds spat, “I’m gonna stay young until I die” on their first album in 1984. Significantly older but still young at heart, the punk quartet from Reno, Nev., is touring in support of its new release, “Leave a Light On.” One of the most important bands in the American hardcore punk revolution, 7 Seconds has evolved into a more nuanced ensemble. Several tracks on “Leave a Light On” could be mistaken for the works of younger and milder bands like the Gaslight Anthem. Two groups that owe an enormous debt to 7 Seconds — Illinois’ the Copyrights and Lawrence’s Iron Guts Kelly — open the show.

Tickets are $15 in advance through

Pat Metheny Unity Group with Bruce Hornsby

Saturday at Crossroads KC

“James,” one of the most popular compositions in Pat Metheny’s vast catalog, is named for singer/songwriter James Taylor. Metheny, a Lee’s Summit native, has repeatedly expressed his admiration for the gentle sounds of folk-oriented musicians. It’s not surprising, consequently, that the winner of 20 Grammy Awards would team up with Bruce Hornsby for a summer tour. Just as Metheny has a penchant for pop, Hornsby’s affection for jazz is evident in the mellow swing of his hits like “The Way It Is.” The promising collaboration will showcase a rare blend of exquisite American music.

Tickets range from $40 to $86.50 in advance through


Saturday at the Phoenix

The Phoenix, the venerable neighborhood bar and restaurant on Eighth Street, presents music by locally based musicians six nights a week, but the venue ups the ante at its annual PhoenixFest. The fifth version of the family-friendly event will feature eight local blues, jazz and rock bands on indoor and outdoor stages. Feo, the Brody Buster Band, Brother Bagman and the MGDs will provide party music for outdoor revelers. The indoor stage features the Wild Women of Kansas City, Tim Whitmer and the KC Express, Jason Vivone and the Billy Bats, and the Stone Cutters Union.

Tickets are $8 in advance through

Max Frost

Saturday at the Riot Room

“White Lies” is the sort of insinuating earworm that is likely to nest in listeners’ craniums for years. The feathery song initially seems innocuous. An acoustic guitar, electronic bleeps and digital beats provide the underpinning for obsessive lyrics about possible infidelity. Once exposed to Max Frost’s musings about “sketch vibes” and a “red dress,” however, unsuspecting music fans discover that the song won’t stop reverberating in their heads. Like the other songs on the Austin-based artist’s debut EP, “White Lies” is a clever combination of slick R&B, icy indie rock and gleaming pop. Kansas City’s the Latenight Callers, a shadowy rock band, open for Frost.

Tickets are $9.65 in advance through

Matthew Sweet

Tuesday at Knuckleheads

Matthew Sweet will celebrate his 50th birthday on Oct. 6. For some rock musicians, the milestone would be an ominous indication that their careers are winding down. Partly because Sweet has always balanced disposable pop sounds with keen insights and jagged guitars, there’s no reason to think that he won’t continue producing music of substance. Although the Nebraska native’s commercial fortunes peaked with the superb 1991 album “Girlfriend,” recent projects — including an ongoing collaboration with Susanna Hoffs of the Bangles — have been equally rewarding. Well Hung Heart, a bluesy rock band from California, and regional blues-rocker Cassie Taylor open the show.

Tickets are $20 in advance through

Nick Waterhouse

Tuesday at the Riot Room

Nick Waterhouse’s wholesome appearance may be hindering his career. Given his remarkable skills as a songwriter, guitarist, bandleader and performer, it’s evident that Waterhouse’s popularity isn’t commensurate with his talent. Waterhouse may look like an ordinary guy, but he rocks like a combination of Jack White and Chris Isaak. The Californian is also an occasional collaborator with garage rock hero Ty Segall. Waterhouse’s willingness to blend old and new sounds makes him one of today’s boldest roots-oriented musicians. Various Blonde, a significantly noisier rock band from Kansas City, opens the show.

Tickets are $12-$14 in advance through

The Fresh & Onlys

Tuesday at Czar Bar

Countless contemporary bands attempt to revive the vintage indie-rock sounds of the Cure, the Smiths and Echo and the Bunnymen. The Fresh & Onlys are one of the few ensembles that manage to occasionally equal the brilliance of their inspirations. “Long Slow Dance” and “House of Spirits,” the San Francisco-based band’s two most recent albums for the fashionable Mexican Summer label, are sinister psychedelic gems. The Shilohs, a Canadian quartet touring with the Fresh & Onlys, evoke the quaint ’60s rock of the Kinks and the Small Faces.

Tickets are $10 in advance through


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