On Friday, September 23rd, the rock aficionados of Kansas City fled to the Midland Theatre in search of a beauty they hadn’t witnessed in years. The Gaslight Anthem recently announced their full-time status together again after a 4-year tour hiatus. Just two weeks into this leg of the tour, they almost immediately had to cancel a show. It had been scheduled earlier in the week in Denver, and openers Tigers Jaw were able to finagle a last-minute headlining set for all ticketholders to the original show to attend in addition to the reschedule.
While they didn’t want to postpone the show altogether, lead singer Brian Fallon had to keep himself and the fans safe and encourage his healing while he dealt with some form of sickness. (Not Covid, but he was a big congested.) Fallon had quite a bit to say about the fan reaction to that decision, which was entirely supported by his empathetic – and emphatic – fans in the heart of America. He even took time during the set to explain that – while he wasn’t at 100% quite yet – he was doing his absolute best on stage because he missed this crowd in this particular city.
Whether it was pandering or not, his stories were sincere, the joy on everyone’s faces was moving, and the night was a blissful continuance of a band we have all come to know and love.
Who was a band or artist you played on repeat in your adolescence? Were you band or genre-loyal in your teens? Did you cling to lyrics, composition, or a specific type of energy to help inspire you and get you through the insanity of high school? Chances are, many millennials are getting into their feels thinking about emo and emo-adjacent music right now. A genre known for hosting nasally voices, lyrics that utilize a person’s entire vocabulary, titles that are longer than most novels, and theatrics that harkened a bit of darkness. While Panic! at The Disco absolutely belongs in this genre, lead singer (and now solo artist) Brendon Urie’s voice didn’t quite belong in the “nasally” category, as was the case for a handful of others who dominated the genre in the aughts.
2006 brought us “I Write Sins Not Tragedies,” an edgy track that immediately caught my attention, with a music video that utilized more stage makeup than a three-ring circus. In the words of Blades of Glory’s Chazz Michael Michaels, “it’s provocative.” Emo kids rejoiced as they saw themselves–their hair, at the very least–in the music videos and performances that ensued over the years from Panic. Even with the band’s evolution – from a band to a (mostly) solo act, with phenomenal cohorts, session musicians, and tour players, and as they’ve dipped their toes into different genres and sounds – their fanbase has held strong.
February of 2019 was the last time Urie made an appearance in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Aside from a less crowded atmosphere on the evening of September 13th, the crowd was no less invigorated and was loud enough to cause a visceral reaction from the entertainer multiple times. He looked shocked, he noted that he was impressed, and the pure joy on his face could be felt all the way “in the back back back back.”
Panic! at The Disco has always done its best to incorporate a wide range of tracks from various titles in every single one of their shows. While the Viva Las Vengeance tour was pretty meticulously planned – from pyrotechnics to sound effects, lighting and confetti – there is still wiggle room for a variety of songs to be interspersed depending on the date. Our stop seemed particularly magical, as the crowd sang along to the following tracks.
The tour itself – as high energy and incredible as the performance has been – has experienced some setbacks over the first few weeks. As most may know by now, two dates were postponed because of Covid, and the night after they were in Kansas City, there was a small fire incident on stage in Minnesota. And still, Brendon moves on with the energy and enthusiasm that we have come to know and love him for.
August 13th was a Saturday night unlike any I have seen in a very long time. Approaching the outside of T-Mobile Center Arena in Kansas City, MO, you would have no idea by the soothing, music-filled area outside the gates that you were entering an almost-sold-out show in a multi-thousand-seat arena. an enigmatic atmosphere. Those in attendance had been waiting to see The Lumineers since the show was announced prior to the pandemic setting in.
The 25-song set included crowd favorites like “Ho Hey,” “Dead Sea,” “Ophelia,” and “Stubborn Love.” Their spin on “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” masterfully blended original track “Leader of the Landslide” into an easily digestible and beautiful new work of art. One of the most notable tracks, however, was their Petty cover “Walls (Circus)”, which was performed with their openers, Gregory Alan Isakov and Daniel Rodriguez.
Much as their name suggests, The Lumineers’ set design left the crowd ensconced in the warm glow of the lights. Their multi-runway stage gave the show a dynamic we have not had the privilege of seeing in the past. While each member of the band is a multi-instrumentalist and talented as all get out, we are more familiar with a stage presence that keeps them all solitary, in a straight line with equal lighting for the audience to enjoy. For this show, we witnessed climbing on pianos, jumping from one part of the stage to the next, and dancing under the most magical disco ball the crowd has ever seen. Add the flurry of confetti mid-show to the mix and you’ve got yourself a kaleidoscope snow globe experience.
Before the pandemic, it truly was all about the music. Now, it seems to be about creating a joyful atmosphere. Sure, the music holds as the firm base and is what gets the audience in the doors. But this band has taken their set design to a level that makes everyone — whether you are in the VIP pit or in the nosebleeds — feel as though they are snuggled with a blanket under starry skies as summer fades.
On March 18th at 1 pm, Isla De Caras took the International Day Stage by storm. In celebration of SXSW 2022, the Argentinian-based outfit brought their special blend of psych-rock to America, and we absolutely reveled in it. (If you need a track to set a particularly blissful mood, look into their music catalog. You will not regret it.)
TEKE::TEKE is absolutely phenomenal live. Hands down, their performance on the International Day Stage at SXSW 2022 was one of our absolute favorites. Their unique genre-bending sound, vibrant style, and enticing energy brought dozens of new listeners into the tent, dancing from the beginning of the first song. We definitely had perma grins on our faces, and were thrilled when they did a takeover on our Instagram during their stint in Austin.
If you haven’t gotten a chance to experience them yet, check them out on our official soundtrack. And peep the photos below for a hint of their vibrance.
We hate to admit that Enjoyable Listens led in the ranks of the most “enjoyable” set at SXSW 2022, but they – ahem, HE – totally did. While the Oxford-based act normally performs as a duo, brainchild Luke Duffett appeared solo this time around, as his bass guitarist partner-in-crime was stuck overseas for WORK. (Something he mentioned multiple times during his set.)
In all honesty, we almost didn’t stay for the set. We had the privilege of covering an array of international artists over the course of the week, and when a slightly sunburnt man in a suit with a bolo tie and slicked-back hair was sound-checking, I prematurely judged him and suggested we leave the Registrant’s Lounge. Luckily, our dear friend Whiteclaw (sorry – they sponsored the fest and I was already a few deep) kept us glued to the spot when Duffett took the stage.
While their Facebook page boasts that they are “a bloodstained fur coat floating on the undulating beat of street talk,” we were absolutely delighted by the theatrics employed by Duffett on that fated Saturday afternoon. He introduced the act, pushed a button on the soundboard, and walked off the stage to make a grand entrance. And this was only after he verbally commanded the attention of everyone in the area three separate times.
A type of Baroque-pop, the music took on an experimental vibe at times. This man was absolutely the manifestation of if one of our best friends from high school had a child with Rick Astley. In all honesty, the vocals and blazer were the only traces of Astley. (After sending a video to Erin’s husband, we received word that we weren’t the only two who had this exact thought.) His vocal range was unexpected and alluring, while the lyrics were poignant, funny, and utilized an expanse of vocabulary. (One of the best ways to pinpoint a favorable lyricist, if we do say so ourselves.) At times, he would do more of a spoken word situation over the music, which we found later to be a common thread in the recorded versions of the tracks. He would also interrupt his own songs to talk to the audience. He even warned us about “spontaneous clapping” and “crowd surfing” he predicted for later in the show — all of this to a still rather small crowd.
But as his set went on, the crowd grew. And the smiles multiplied. And his dance moves got even more outlandish. He jumped off the stage, lunged at attendees, and performed for the (non-operating) camera, all the while maintaining this artistic persona that we all grew to love over the course of his set.
If you get the chance to see this act live, run… do not walk. I promise it will change your life.