Nikki Hill, with the Blank Tapes
Nikki Hill has superwoman vocal cords. Think Mavis Staples meets the Alabama Shakes' Brittany Howard. On last year's full-length, Here's Nikki Hill, the St. Louis singer delivered a dazzling concoction of roots, blues and rockabilly tunes. She shrieks, whoops and slides over the album's 10 cuts, including the roadhouse rambler "I've Got a Man" and the slow-dripping, heart-melting "Hymn for Hard Luck," a tune to cure anyone's bad-day blues. What Hill does on record, she does a hundred times better live. Thursday at Knuckleheads, you'll see why she has earned the nickname "Southern Fireball." L.A. psych-pop act the Blank Tapes opens.
Thursday, February 6, Knuckleheads Saloon (2715 Rochester, 816-483-1456)
2 Live Crew
For old-school rap connoisseurs, Club Hammerjacks in St. Joseph offers a very special — if not bizarre — concert. Brother Marquis and Fresh Kid Ice, original members of 2 Live Crew, apparently are still making music together. The As Wild As We Wanna Be Tour is in support of the duo's as-yet-untitled album due out later this year. It'll be hard to top 1994's charmingly unsavory "Me So Horny," but I'm sure Marquis and Fresh Kid will make a solid effort. This show could be the most awesome thing you do this year or the biggest letdown of 2014. Either way, it does offer the chance to relive your impetuous youth and create new memories.
Friday, February 7, Club Hammerjacks (512 Felix, St. Joseph, 816-617-6668)
Betse Ellis, Brandon Phillips, Cody Wyoming, Tommy Donoho
The Midwest Music Foundation has quite the local lineup assembled for Friday night. Betse Ellis is one of Kansas City's go-to fiddle players, and last year's High Moon Order was one of The Pitch's top albums of 2013. Ellis blends an Ozark sound with her own folk sensibility, making the sort of front-porch-at-twilight music that feels so natural. Brandon Phillips, frontman for punk-rock outfit the Architects, also performs a solo acoustic set. Cody Wyoming, of the Pedaljets and the Philistines fame and a dozen other projects, is also slated to appear. Tommy Donoho, the man in charge of the rowdy, roots-rocking Dollar Fox, rounds out the night. Proceeds from the show go to funding the Midwest Music Foundation's SXSW showcase.
Friday, February 7, Bandwagon Merch (408 East 19th Street, 816-298-0691)
Despite divorcing frontman Daniel Blumberg in early 2013, English alt-rock band Yuck soldiers on, much to the delight of nostalgic 1990s-rock enthusiasts. In September, Yuck released Glow & Behold, its second album and the first without Blumberg. Guitarist Max Bloom has taken over as lead singer, and the 11 tracks on Glow revel in fuzzy guitars and give what the band must have considered heartfelt odes to that grunge subculture. But Glow feels like a parody of its 2011 self-titled debut, an honest-to-God, best-of-the-'90s reincarnation. Glow is the album your mom would buy if she was trying to understand your taste in music. She's close, and it's sweet, but it's not quite right. The band's Riot Room gig should give us an idea of how well Bloom does as the man leading the new fight.
Saturday, February 8, the Riot Room (4048 Broadway, 816-442-8179)
When Pink turned the Sprint Center into her own trapeze studio last November on the Truth About Love Tour, her opening act was Australian trio the Kin. Brothers Isaac and Thorald Koren, along with drummer Shakerleg (really), gave an unadorned, enthusiastic performance for a scattered handful of people who may have been paying attention in the packed arena. All I wanted was for these spectacularly fit Australian dudes to play a smaller venue, where their radio-ready, high-energy rock could really be heard. The band's debut EP, Get on It, is full of swagger and promise. We'll see how the svelte trio adjusts to Czar after their arena stint.
Monday, February 10, Czar (1531 Grand, 816-421-0300)