The music scene here – like the weather – is on fire, so let’s get on to this week’s picks, of which there are many…
Tuesday, July 17th
mewithoutYou at the Granada in Lawrence
Damn, the Granada’s been killing it lately, bringing in a wide variety of interesting acts. And this one’s no different.
mewithoutYou plays indie rock and all its members have beards. Their latest release, Ten Stories, is a throwback to the band’s truer sound, after it ventured into more commercially accessible territory with its prior album.
“They’re not quite children’s songs,” vocalist Aaron Weiss explains, “with not quite coherent storylines, but there is an overarching and kind of child-like narrative: a circus train crashes in 19th century Montana. Some animals escape, others stay in their cages. The traveling menagerie re-rails, stays its course, and struggles to fill in the missing attractions. Meanwhile, freed from institutionalized life, the rice-cake rabbit takes to a peripatetic fortune teller, the monastic walrus is tempted by a hedonistic owl, a fish falls for an eggplant.”
Wednesday, July 17th
Dirty Projectors, Wye Oak at the Granada in Lawrence
I’m always impressed by the number of bands that roll through Lawrence to play small-ish venues in between playing bigger ones in St. Louis and Denver. Maybe it’s just location location, location, but the night before its Granada show, Dirty Projectors are hitting the Pageant in the Lou and the night after the Bluebird in Denver. Both are really killer, somewhat larger venues.
Dirty Projectors hail from Brooklyn, so you know that they’re way hipper than you or I can even possibly imagine. And yes, they are adorable. So expect this show to be packed to the gills with a who’s who of Lawrence scenesters. Know how I know? Pitchfork just gave their brand new album, Swing Lo Magellan a 8.8 rating and slapped the “Best New Music” tag on its ass. Just as an aside, how did Pitchfork become the Bible of Hip? Sometimes I hate them.
“Culled from a batch of roughly 40 demos, these tunes explore vulnerability and vexation, sweetness and cynicism with more manageable musical complications than ever before,” wrote Grayson Currin. “For instance, the gorgeous “Impregnable Question” finds the seam between Heart of Gold-era Neil Young and late-1960s Serge Gainsbourg.”
Thursday, July 18th
Josh Ritter at Crossroads KC
Sort of throwback singer-songwriter, Ritter sometimes seems like an old soul trapped in a schoolboy’s body. He’s had his share of critical success over the years, including his latest release, Bringing in the Darlings, a 6 song EP that he unexpectedly dropped in February.
“The six songs offer a refreshing sound compared to the grandiose sound of albums like his most recent LP, 2010’s So Runs the World Away,” writes Consequence of Sound’s Amanda Koellner. “Opening track “Can’t Go to Sleep (Without You)” sets the tone with simple chords and reserved vocals. An Elliot Smith-like earnestness comes across as Ritter sings of sleepless nights that make anyone listening want to help the guy out…”
If this sounds interesting to you, see above and win yourself some free tickets. It’s so easy, folks…
Friday, July 19th
Chicago, The Doobie Brothers at Starlight in KC
This one should bring the boomers out of their air conditioned hideouts for a hot night under the stars.
Though Chicago boasts only four original founding members, they still are rolling along pretty well. There’s no doubt that they sold their souls and served up the cheese in the ‘80s at times, but their live shows feature some of their more substantial earlier songs as well. And with some killer session guys tacked on to Robert Lamm, Lee Loughnane, James Pankow, and Walt Parazaider, they can still bring it.
The Doobs- a band that defined the ‘70s sound as much as anyone- are similarly retread, featuring just two of the originals, Tom Johnston and Pat Simmons after drummer Michael Hassock passed on earlier this year. But seriously, how many different lineups has this band had? From my count, at least 26. Seriously. From the reviews I’ve seen, they certainly play all the hits adequately, as well as some newer material off their 2010 release, World Gone Crazy.
Phantom Blues Band at Frontier Park in Olathe
This one is a FREE SHOW! You heard me right, cheapskates. Not only is it free, it features one of the best blues bands around.
They originally formed to back the legendary Taj Mahal on several albums, but individually its members have performed as sidemen with artists such as Joe Cocker, Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Little Feat, Jimi Hendrix, John Fogerty, Elton John, Leon Russell, Gregg Allman, Ziggy Marley. Oh and The Rolling Stones.
Saturday, July 20th
Old Crow Medicine Show, Chuck Mead at Crossroads KC
These guys have blown up in the last couple of years after touring the country relentlessly, playing festivals and smaller gigs. Their sound, which is at times straight up country and at times folk-rock, crosses demographics and pulls in rockers and hillbillies alike. Their best album to date, 2004’s O.C.M.S., features everyone’s favorite, Wagon Wheel, a song that has been covered by everyone from Mumford and Sons to Little Feat.
Plus this show features local boy Chuck Mead of BR549 fame. He’s been hanging in Nashville for a couple decades now, but frequently returns to the area to show off for his old friends and family. Recently, he was the musical director for Million Dollar Quartet, the rock musical about Sun Studios that played the Kaufmann Center a few months back.