Day 2 of Boulevardia was a hot one. Per usual, the annual festival occurs on just about the hottest weekend of the year, Father’s Day in downtown Kansas City. Day 1 featured many favorite local acts, an array of vendors (some of which provided a reprieve from the heat), and a metric ton of photo opportunities. Day 2 brought much of the same, with an earlier start time that easily drained the battery on many of us throughout the day.
But at 5:05 pm, the legendary Big Freedia took the main stage. If ever there were someone to reignite the flame on a fiery – yet sweaty – festival, she is that person. Her catalog of high-energy music brought the whole crowd to their feet, encouraging people of all ages to dance. (In fact, I witnessed many employing her twerking tactics throughout the evening as we got deeper and deeper into our alcohol consumption.) The show was an absolute work of art
Big Freedia brought beauty to the beginning of the evening on stage. She continued to bring good energy in her kindness to those who approached her after her performance as she roamed the festival grounds with her friends.
**Big Freedia was introduced by Kansas City’s current mayor in what many are considering to be a performative move. While he is championing legislation to make our city a safe haven for trans people, he is fighting against affordable housing for tenants and has voted down vital mental health, housing, and arts funding for the city. He has also pumped more money back into policing in Kansas City while defunding public health resources, a controversial and uneven approach.
On 4/20, Kansas City, Missouri hosted its inaugural cannabis and music festival experience on the grounds at the future home of the Smokey River Entertainment District. The venue, which is located just off 291 Highway in River Bend, Missouri, built a mecca for cannabis, its fans, and supporters to celebrate the yearly event. Berner is the infamous owner of the cannabis brand Cookies, so he was especially excited to help celebrate legalization in Missouri. In fact, he stopped to tell the crowd how incredible it was multiple times.
A particularly wonderful moment for me was when he included “Pass Me the Green” in his setlist. This feels like a no-brainer, based on the subject matter, but it still wasn’t an expectation. In the song, he rhymes:
Hopped out the game for a minute But I’m back now My bitch take trips out of state She from Sac Town
Directly following Berner was the indelible Joey Bada$$, who came out and immediately said he was happy to be in Missouri. The crowd lost their minds completely when he correctly identified the state, because that is a very rare thing. The name “Kansas City” leads many performers to believe that they are in Kansas. Bada$$ earned any respect he was lacking in that moment, and the crowd settled in to an absolutely phenomenal performance as he built the energy for the king himself, Wiz Khalifa.
And this crowd? Beautiful, calm, happy. All set with food trucks surrounding the stage space, and a cannabis village accessible to 21+ attendees. What a beautiful experience for the city, and a great way to kick off legalization in Missouri.
Last night was one for the books. As the sun set on Kansas City, Missouri’s first 4/20 with legalized marijuana, a crowd sprawled out over acres of land at the future site of the Smokey River Entertainment District got to bask in a new glow. Wiz Khalifa headlined the inaugural 420Fest, performing for thousands with the distant glow of car headlights from 291 Highway lighting the backdrop. Smoke filled the air, with the delicious scent from the food truck bay wafting over the attendees. It was a certain type of bliss, and Wiz was the ultimate soundtrack.
Joey Pintozzi, president of the event sponsor Besa Hospitality Group, is particularly excited about what the event means for Missouri at this time. “This is going to be an amazing event, on a special day, marking the beginning of a new era for Missouri during a historic time in our state.”
420Fest hosted a cannabis village area for attendees over the age of 21. Rows and rows of vendors – both local and those who drove in from an array of different states – brought us their own unique cannabis experiences. A stage brought us speeches on equity from lawmakers, nonprofit leads, entrepreneurs, and those who were formerly incarcerated for cannabis-related crimes. We also got to glimpse Mike Tyson and Ric Flair, as well as glass artists, edible extraordinaires, and so much more. The event aimed to normalize and celebrate the cannabis lifestyle, with a portion of the proceeds going toward equity in the space.
The evening of September 15th was a night to remember. Idles made a special appearance at the historic Kings Theatre in Brooklyn, and brought some high energy with them. Photographer Anthony Mulcahy nabbed some action shots for us to enjoy.
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.
Dashboard Confessional was slated to headline Boulevardia 2019. Then, a massive summer storm blew threw and everyone ended up hanging out under shelter, many in a parking garage in Kansas City’s West Bottoms region.
Kansas City was ready for a Dashboard Confessional show. Way past due, Carraba started the show by addressing that night, and explaining how much he had been looking forward to hanging out with us over the last three years. We bought it, and sang the night away under the stars–our echoes reverberating off the downtown skyline–during one of the most excruciatingly hot weekends of the summer. Ah, Boulevardia.