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KC concerts July 20-26: Gretchen Wilson, Luke Bryan, Gucci Mane, Journey, Nickelback

Luke Bryan will perform Friday, July 21, at the Sprint Center.
Luke Bryan will perform Friday, July 21, at the Sprint Center. Invision/AP

Gretchen Wilson

Thursday, July 20, at KC Live

The earthiness of Gretchen Wilson songs like “Redneck Woman” and “Here for the Party” were a breath of fresh air in 2004. Her unprocessed sound and lyrics about shopping at Walmart and guzzling whiskey made most of the year’s other country hits seem affectedly dainty. While relative newcomers like Sturgill Simpson receive more critical attention, Wilson remains a genuinely defiant country outsider. She’ll play old favorites and rugged new material from her excellent new album, “Ready to Get Rowdy,” at Thursday’s free concert. They’re Loving Mary Band and Marianne Michaels will open.

7 p.m. Thursday, July 20. KC Live. 816-842-1045. Free.


Thursday, July 20, at the Riot Room

Inspiration can spring from the most unlikely of places. A bout of postpartum depression led Kansas City singer/songwriter Riley Brown to create new music. She said she began working on material “right after my son was born when I was feeling a little bit blue.” Under the banner of Shells, Brown will perform wispy, electronic-laced folk-rock material from her new release at a matinee show Saturday on the patio stage of the Riot Room. With Jake Wells.

6 p.m. Thursday, July 20. Riot Room. 816-442-8179. Tickets are $10 through

Luke Bryan

Friday, July 21, at the Sprint Center

Luke Bryan knows his audience. By naming his current string of dates the Huntin’, Fishin’ and Lovin’ Every Day Tour, Bryan acknowledges the vigorous lifestyle embraced by his vast fan base. Yet Bryan didn’t become country’s most popular artist by being a stodgy traditionalist. Recent concerts have balanced renditions of Bryan hits like the lusty “Country Girl (Shake It for Me)” with interpretations of material by pop artists Flo Rida and the Chainsmokers. With Brett Eldredge and Adam Craig.

7 p.m. Friday, July 21. Sprint Center. 816-949-7100. Tickets are $49.75-$75 through

Gucci Mane

Saturday, July 22, at Providence Medical Center Amphitheater

Serving time in prison isn’t ordinarily an advisable career move, but incarceration did wonders for Gucci Mane. Before he was sentenced to a three-year term on firearms-related charges in 2014, the rapper who embraces the nickname East Atlanta Santa was an underground legend. Shortly after he was paroled in 2016, he become a mainstream star. Gucci Mane’s unlikely ascent makes him the obvious headliner of the auspicious inaugural edition of the Flyover Festival. Rae Sremmurd, Lil Uzi Vert, Playboi Carti, Smokepurpp and SuperShaqGonzoe are among the opening acts.

6 p.m. Saturday, July 22. Providence Medical Center Amphitheater. 913-825-3400. Tickets are $29.50-$104.50 through


Saturday, July 22, at Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland

AFI sparked a revolution in 2003 with the release of the album “Sing the Sorrow” and a series of corresponding performances on the Warped Tour. In addition to cosmetic flourishes such as making eyeliner an essential accessory for like-minded young men, AFI’s synthesis of traditional punk, sensitive emo and hard-hitting metal laid a musical foundation for innumerable bands. Led by charismatic tastemaker Davey Havok, AFI will indulge old fans eager to relive the good old days and show young admirers what they missed. With Citizen.

9 p.m. Saturday, July 22. Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland. 816-283-9921. Tickets are $19.65 through


Saturday, July 22, at Starlight Theatre

Journey’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three months ago was fraught with peril. Rather than resuming their rancorous disputes, however, the men who made a series of massive hits together in the ’70s and ’80s opted for civility. Steve Perry, the vocalist who sang on “Don’t Stop Believin’” and “Faithfully” before falling out with the band in the ’90s, even had kind words for his replacement, praising Arnel Pineda as “a man who sings his heart out every night.” With Asia.

7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 22. Starlight Theatre. 816-363-7827. Tickets are $35-$129.50 through


Sunday, July 23, at Starlight Theatre

The long-suffering members of Nickelback had no way of suspecting that they’d become the target of merciless online bullying when they banded together 22 years ago in Canada. Nickelback has become a derisive punchline for music snobs of every stripe. Staunchly loyal fans of the melodic rock band will refuse to allow haters to spoil the fun on Sunday. They know Nickelback is one of the most entertaining live acts in rock. With Daughtry and Shaman’s Harvest.

6 p.m. Sunday, July 23. Starlight Theatre. 816-363-7827. Tickets are $39.50-$129.50 through

Echo & the Bunnymen

Tuesday, July 25, at Crossroads KC

Echo & the Bunnymen, one of the most alluring alternative rock bands of the ’80s, never attempted to hide its influences. The British group makes those reference points explicit on its new release, “It’s All Live Now.” Recorded during the group’s heyday, the collection includes covers of classic material by the Doors and the Velvet Underground. Echo & the Bunnymen made a similarly important contribution to the rock canon with the 1984 album “Ocean Rain,” a massively influential set of ornate psychedelia. With the Violent Femmes and Ava Mendoza.

7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 25. Crossroads KC. 785-749-3434. Tickets are $38-$81.50 through

Social Distortion

Tuesday, July 25, at Liberty Hall

“Story of My Life,” the signature song of Social Distortion, recast the American working-class blues associated with Merle Haggard and Bruce Springsteen into a sound that suited the sensibilities of Southern California punk aficionados. The band hasn’t veered far from the forthright style of the “outlaw love song” in the intervening years. One year shy of its 40th anniversary, Social Distortion continues to play honest songs like “Reach for the Sky” with unflagging stamina. With Jade Jackson.

8 p.m. Tuesday, July 25. Liberty Hall. 785-749-1972. Tickets are $40.50-$140 through

AY Musik and AJ Young

Tuesday, July 25, at RecordBar

Aaron Young and AJ Young suggest that embracing positivity and inclusiveness can act as a form of rebellion on their new collaboration “Ready for a Change.” The folk-oriented AJ and the pop-based Aaron, a man best known for his work in AY Musik, join forces on the anthem that includes the line “TV tells me what I should be; music tells me what I could be.” The lyric reflects the way the Kansas City brothers continue to defy convention. With Eems, Cedd the Light and Brandon Phillips.

7 p.m. Tuesday, July 25. RecordBar. 816-753-5207. Tickets are $7 through

Bent Knee

Tuesday, July 25, at the Bottleneck

The exceedingly ambitious music of Boston-based sextet Bent Knee often sounds like a combination of Tool’s thunderous art-rock, John Coltrane’s spiritual improvisations and Yoko Ono’s willfully abrasive experimentation. Bent Knee’s penchant for eccentric time signatures and obtuse lyrics didn’t repel representatives of Sony Music. The global conglomerate recently released the group’s fourth album, “Land Animal,” a project that reflects the formal training the band’s members received at the elite Berklee College of Music.

8 p.m. Tuesday, July 25. The Bottleneck. 785-749-3434. Tickets are $11 through

Mary Chapin Carpenter

Wednesday, July 26, at Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

Even as she racked up a series of mainstream country hits in the ’80s and ’90s, Mary Chapin Carpenter seemed like a proverbial square peg that had barely managed to squeeze into a round hole. Delightful songs like “Shut Up and Kiss Me” and “How Do” didn’t reflect the artistic range of the graduate of Brown University. Carpenter’s more recent work has revealed her true métier as a singer/songwriter in the vein of Jimmy Webb and Joni Mitchell. With Sarah Jarosz.

7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 26. Muriel Kauffman Theatre, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. 816-994-7200. Tickets are $35.50-$75.50 through