"People are surprised that there's a rich hip-hop culture in Kansas," says 22-year-old filmmaker Jon Allen. He recently completed Looking for Today, a documentary on Lawrence's thriving rap scene. "My whole idea with the video was that people on the outside can see it for what it is. It's not the same as some of the stigmas and absurd generalities that people have about hip-hop." To counter negative stereotypes, Allen took his camera and followed a number of area artists (Mac Lethal, Archetype, Close Encounters) as they performed in clubs, recorded in makeshift studios and sweated it out during rehearsals. Then he whittled 30 hours of footage into the 35-minute documentary.
"It represents the golden era of things," says Miles Bonny, whose group SoundsGood shows up in the film. "It's a time capsule of the early stages of the scene's development, before it gained any press or before anybody had any CDs or stickers or T-shirts or was thinking about going on tour."
Lawrence-based rapper Approach -- who relocated from Kansas City last year to take advantage of the college town's built-in audience -- also makes an appearance.
"I love the fact that on a Wednesday night with relatively no promotion, you can draw a couple hundred people to a venue to watch you perform," he says.
Looking for Today -- which began as an assignment for a film studies class at KU but continued to develop even after Allen received an A -- premieres Saturday night at the Bottleneck's Lawrence Hip-Hop Night. The screening is accompanied by live sets from various Today artists as well as a few hot newcomers. But even though it looks to be one of underground hip-hop's standout events this year, Allen won't be videotaping. "I really enjoy going to a show now and not having the camera," he says. "People ask me, 'Where's the camera?' And it's like, man, I wanna actually be here and enjoy it." For information, call 785-842-5483.-- Geoff Harkness
The Brick brings out your inner Alex Trebek.
On the color wheel of drunkenness, the shade of inebriation reached after the first drink or two is characterized by complete access to information stored in the recesses of the brain and total control over speech formation -- the only sign of intoxication being a loss of inhibitions. This state, also known as a buzz, is advantageous in trivia competitions such as those from 7 to 9 p.m. Fridays at The Brick (1727 McGee). There's no second-guessing of Alex Trebek-like reflexes. After two whiskey sours, one simply knows that Harare is the capital of Zimbabwe. This week is just the third installment of the battle, which costs $5 to enter. Triviaphiles enter as individuals or teams, and prizes are involved. For information, call 816-421-1634.-- Sarah Smarsh
Mixing It Up
So, the DJ known as SCSI Bunny (not the most manly of names, so we congratulate him for having confidence in his own masculinity) has this idea. He and his pal Idledeathmike should get together and play songs from a few of the most danceable genres of music in recent pop-culture history. "We're mixing in electroclash with new wave, no wave, '80s punk -- pretty much anything you can dance to," he says. SCSI Bunny has had only one prior experience as a DJ, and that was at an art opening, so Friday night's Electroclash Noise Dance Party at El Torreon (31st and Gillham) should be pretty exciting for him. It should be exciting for people who show up to dance, too. For information, see www.eltorreon.com. -- Gina Kaufmann
Kansas City residents too scared to board a metro bus will get a close look inside those populist vessels when Das Bus premieres at 7 p.m. at the Glenwood Arts Theatre (9575 Metcalf in Overland Park). In case you haven't read this week's cover story, here's the short version: Local filmmaker Ben Meade interviewed bus drivers, passengers and "people with bus phobia" to explore fact and fiction in bus-themed urban mythology. Das Bus helps raise funds for the Kan Film Festival, which takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Lied Center (1600 Stewart Drive in Lawrence). Tickets for Das Bus cost $7. The Kan is free. For information, check www.dasbus.com. -- Casey Logan