Bon Iver, with Kathleen Edwards
Critics seem to love it, but I'm sensing that the self-titled sophomore album from Bon Iver (aka Justin Vernon), released earlier this summer, isn't such a huge hit with the more casual fans who were drawn in by Vernon's soulful, wintry guy-and-a-guitar debut record, For Emma, Forever Ago. That's understandable, given the new release's fewer hooks and stranger instrumentation — most notably, a synthy undercurrent that calls to mind the 1980s work of guys like Steve Winwood and Bruce Hornsby. But Vernon's trademark choirboy falsetto has remained intact, as has his gift for pulling surprising beauty out of gray spaces.
Friday, September 9, at the Uptown Theater (3700 Broadway, 816-753-8665)
Crossroads Music Fest
A reliably fun party, Bill Sundahl's Crossroads Music Fest this year features DJs and 25 bands at six downtown venues: Crosstown Station, Press Bar, Mercy Seat Alley, Czar, Kansas City Café and the Brick. The bill is heavy on Americana-ish acts — Sundahl's band the Columns, Dollar Fox, Rural Grit All-Stars — but also includes some hard rock (Cherokee Rock Rifle), indie rock (Capybara) and reggae (the New Riddim). I'm most excited to see former It's Over frontman Jamie Searle's new project, My Brothers & Sisters, which reportedly contains something like 20 members, including a horn section and a string quartet. See the music-fest website for the full schedule.
Saturday, September 10 (at various venues, cmfkc.com)
Sherwood Center Blues and Bar-B-Q Benefit
This weekend, the Blues and Bar-B-Q Benefit for Sherwood Center enters its 21st year at B.B.'s Lawnside BBQ. Blues fanatic (and B.B.'s owner) Lindsay Shannon is still hosting the event. Raising money for the Sherwood Center, a nonprofit serving children and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities, remains the primary objective. The variables are the blues acts that perform. This year, the bill includes, among others, Scotty Boy Daniel Blues Band and Bobby Smith Blues Band on Friday, and Trampled Under Foot and Four Fried Chickens and a Coke on Saturday. See bbslawnsidebbq.com for the full schedule.
Friday, September 9, and Saturday, September 10, at B.B.'s Lawnside BBQ (1205 East 85th Street, 816-822-7427)
Steddy P and the IndyGround crew got in on the festival action last year when they held the inaugural IndyFest at RecordBar. This year, the party has moved to the Riot Room, but the theme — hip-hop and urban art — is the same. The fest is featuring local rappers, including Approach and Greg Enemy, as well as importing out-of-towners (Imperfekt from Iowa, Dusty Wallets and Nato Caliph from St. Louis). Also on the bill is Humans, a sax-driven, non-hip-hop instrumental act I caught recently and enjoyed. See indyground.com for the full schedule.
Saturday, September 10, at the Riot Room (4048 Broadway, 816-442-8179)
Radkey, with Ponyboy
Radkey is made up of three brothers from St. Joseph, Missouri (ages 18, 16 and 14), about whom I'm not going to make a Hanson joke. Their energetic blend of punk and classic rock earned them an invitation to perform a few weeks back at the Afro-Punk Festival in Brooklyn — an event that ultimately was canceled due to a fake hurricane. Ponyboy, a scuzzy Lawrence two-piece, decorates its noisy garage rock with aggressive and occasionally disturbing lyrics. The band's most recent release is a demo called Little Dick Demo, which contains the songs "Bro Is the New Word for Faggot" and "God Hates Your Feelings." I'm not entirely sure what the serious-to-humorous ratio is with these guys, and I think I prefer it that way.
Monday, September 12, at RecordBar (1020 Westport Road, 816-753-5207)