Strange Music Inc.’s move into pop music
Kansas City’s garishly vibrant live music scene possesses an extra helping of swagger this summer.
From touring superstars headlining at arenas and amphitheaters to hometown heroes proving their worth in intimate clubs, scores of musicians will perform in indoor and outdoor venues every night. The 10 auspicious concerts by legendary rappers, pop upstarts, country troubadours and groundbreaking innovators detailed below reflect the range of offerings coming soon.
5 p.m. Saturday, June 1, at KC Live
Tech N9ne, the man born Aaron Dontez Yates in 1971, is one of Kansas City’s most successful entrepreneurs. The rapper and his business partner Travis O’Guin are the music industry moguls behind Strange Music. Based in Lee’s Summit, the independent record label is stupendously successful. StrangeFest acts as a celebration of the implausible achievement. Artists affiliated with Strange Music including Tech N9ne, Krizz Kaliko, Mackenzie Nicole and Joey Cool will perform rap, hip-hop, rock and pop on two stages. 816-842-1045. Tickets are $31 through powerandlightdistrict.com.
2. Billie Eilish
7:30 p.m. Friday, June 7, at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena
One of the biggest pop stars in the world isn’t old enough to vote. Billie Eilish, 17, thrives by breaking rules – she looks and sounds nothing like a typical teen idol. With help from her older brother, the Californian creates disaffected pop characterized by odd electronic effects, whispery vocals, unstable beats and insinuating lyrics. The singular approach on startling songs like “Bury a Friend” has resonated with millions of fans. Every date on Eilish’s global When We All Fall Asleep Tour is sold out. With Denzel Curry. 816-442-6100. The face value of tickets is $50.69 and $60.69. Details are available at silversteineyecentersarena.com.
3. Snarky Puppy
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 11, at Muriel Kauffman Theatre
The celebrated collective Snarky Puppy will make its long overdue Kansas City debut in June. Founded by Michael League in 2004 when he was a student at the University of North Texas, Snarky Puppy has dramatically expanded the artistic and commercial possibilities of jazz. The rotating cast of elite musicians blend jazz, rock, funk and pop with the sort of precision associated with Steely Dan. Released in March, Snarky Puppy’s 13th album “Immigrance” is its slickest effort to date. With Breastfist. 816-994-7222. Tickets are $35.50-$85.50 through kauffmancenter.org.
4. Rickie Lee Jones
8 p.m. Wednesday, June 19, at Crossroads KC
Rickie Lee Jones is a bona fide beatnik. She follows a capricious muse rather than pursue a conventional career. Jones never made a wholehearted attempt to replicate the success of the fluke hit “Chuck E.’s in Love,” the jazz-inflected lead single on her 1979 debut album. The Californian’s latest album, “Lonely People,” has a pair of Kansas City connections. The locally based artist Peregrine Honig created the cover art and the former Kansas City resident Mike Dillon produced the project. With the Mike Dillon Band. 785-749-3434. Tickets are $32.50-$44.50 through crossroadskc.com.
7:30 p.m. Friday, June 21, at the Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland
Red, White & Boom, the annual concert presented by radio station Mix 93.3, has long served as a reliable showcase for up-and-coming pop stars. A month after his debut single was released in 2009, future icon Justin Bieber opened a Red, White & Boom for David Cook. Lizzo possesses similar potential. In combining the most appealing traits of the groundbreaking artists Janelle Monaé and Missy Elliot, the Minneapolis artist’s new album “Cuz I Love You” is a convincing bid for stardom. With Bazzi, Betty Who and Ally Brooke. 816-283-9921. Tickets are $39 through arvestbanktheatre.com.
6. Kane Brown
6 p.m. Saturday, June 29, at Providence Medical Center Amphitheater
Kane Brown is one of the most likable members of the latest wave of country stars. In addition to being young and handsome, the artist from northern Georgia sings with a resonant baritone in the tradition of the country notables Josh Turner and Randy Travis. Yet Brown isn’t bound to the tradition he clearly respects. He’s collaborated with the pop star Khalid and rejects the customary unwillingness of country artists to address social issues like racism and gun violence. With Lanco and Morgan Evans. 913-825-3400. Tickets are $19-$59.50 through providenceamp.com.
7. Randy Rogers Band
7 p.m. Thursday, July 25, at KC Live
Randy Rogers Band is a highlight of the 2019 Hot Country Nights concert series at Power & Light District. The Texans’ burly songs about booze and romance such as “Drinking Money” and “Kiss Me in the Dark” feature furious fiddling and blaring electric guitars. With Parker McCollum. 816-842-1045. Additional information about the free series – one of Kansas City’s best bargains – is available at powerandlightdistrict.com.
8. Brandi Carlile
6:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 2, at Providence Medical Center Amphitheater
Brandi Carlile took the scenic route to stardom. The Seattle singer-songwriter toured relentlessly for more than a dozen years. Yet it took her epic 2017 song “The Joke” to break into the mainstream. After receiving six Grammy nominations (winning three) and performing a riveting version of “The Joke” on the awards show in February, Carlile is on the cusp of becoming household name. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit top the bill on Aug. 2. With the War and Treaty. 913-825-3400. Tickets are $46-$66 through providenceamp.com.
9. Mary J. Blige and Nas
8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 6, at Starlight Theatre
Mary J. Blige insists that it’s “time for us to go and get the money” on “Thriving,” her new collaboration with Nas. That’s precisely what the New York natives will do on their co-headlining tour. Nas asserts that he’s “the greatest of all time” on “Thriving.” That’s debatable, but he merits a position near the top of any credible list of the best rappers. The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul, Blige ranks alongside the likes of Aretha Franklin in the history of R&B. 816-363-7827. Tickets are $40.50-$250 through kcstarlight.com.
10. Samantha Fish
9:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 23, at the Paola Roots Festival
Observers of Kansas City’s blues scene knew it was just a matter of time before local fans would have to share Samantha Fish with the rest of the world. Fish moved to New Orleans and signed to the venerable roots music label Rounder Records after becoming one of the brightest luminaries in Kansas City. The rugged vocalist and outstanding guitarist will return to the area as the headliner of the first day of the Paola Roots Festival. A band led by the funky steel guitar hero Robert Randolph tops the bill on Saturday, Aug. 24. 913-294-6427. Admission on Friday is $15. Additional information is available at rootsfestival.org.