Center of the City
Middle of the Map takes over Westport this weekend, but you can escape the fray for a different kind of madness at Center of the City. Thirty-five KC punk and hardcore bands spend three nights battering two stages at Vandals - the remodeled indoor stage at the Black & Gold Tavern and an outdoor courtyard. The lineup is intimidating: Red Kate, the Bad Ideas, Stiff Middle Fingers, Bummer, and Black on Black are just a few highlights, along with a few regional acts that play Kansas City somewhat less often. Eardrums will be blasted. Beer will be spilled. Prepare yourself for a sweaty, gnarly good time.
Thursday, April 3, through Saturday, April 5, Vandals at Black & Gold Tavern (3740 Broadway, 816-561-1099)
Five-piece Colorado band Elephant Revival keeps enough instruments among its members to be considered a tiny traveling orchestra. Lead singer Bonnie Paine plays the washboard and the saw, and there's no snubbing a woman who can coax music out of those "instruments." Last fall, the band released These Changing Skies, a collection of songs that incorporates some delicate Celtic slivers into field-ready bluegrass. None of that explains a band name that, at a glance, gives false hope of a circus coming to town. Lawrence's Olassa opens.
Saturday, April 5, the Bottleneck (737 New Hampshire, Lawrence, 785-841-5483)
The four boys who make up New Madrid are, somewhat disappointingly, not from Spain. They're from Tennessee and now call Athens, Georgia, home. Their sound is more inspired by early 1990s guitar rock than any perceived soundtrack for the running of the bulls. No one can fault them for romanticizing the exotic, especially in the band-swallowing genre of Americana. On New Madrid's latest album, Sunswimmer, the band recasts Americana with elements of psychedelic rock and lengthy (like, stretching into the 10-minute mark) instrumentals. Don't let that scare you: New Madrid has opened for plenty of larger acts - the Avett Brothers and Dead Confederate among them - and by now should be used to formatting their lengthy tunes for a live audience.
Tuesday, April 8, Czar (1531 Grand, 816-421-0300)
Chick Corea and Béla Fleck
Renowned jazz pianist and composer Chick Corea and banjo master Béla Fleck would make for excellent concerts on their own. The chance to see both artists share a stage and collaborate on pieces, well, that show is on another level. With their 2007 collaborative album, The Enchantment, Corea and Fleck expanded the minds of jazz and bluegrass fans with their brand-new fusion. They don't get together for concerts terribly often, so we suggest seizing the opportunity and catching a set that will challenge whatever you think you know about these musical styles.
Sunday, April 6, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts (1601 Broadway, 816-994-7222)
If you like searing and smoking blues, look no further than Tab Benoit. The Louisiana singer and guitarist swings into Knuckleheads Friday with his own sound - big helpings of Delta blues with a healthy side of Creole culture. After his 1993 debut album, Benoit released an album a year, until his last full-length in 2012, Legacy: The Best of Tab Benoit. He does indeed have quite a legacy in the national blues community, thanks in part to the startling breadth of styles at his disposal. Local blues star Samantha Fish opens.
Friday, April 4, Knuckleheads Saloon (2715 Rochester, 816-483-1456)