Inside jokes are as much a part of the Steely Dan legacy as impeccable production values and jazz fusion, and the group's core — Donald Fagen and Walter Becker — has accordingly titled the current U.S. tour "Mood Swings: 8 Days to Pancake Day." But judging by recent set lists, this Midland show shouldn't be too terribly different from the one at Starlight that Steely Dan played on its 2011 "Shuffle Diplomacy" tour: lots of the big hits ("Peg," "Josie," "Reelin' in the Years"), plus a handful of deeper cuts to appease nerdling fans like myself.
Tuesday, September 3, at the Midland (1228 Main, 816-283-9921)
Interscope signed Chief Keef to a big contract last year, when he was just 17 years old. His official debut recently arrived — it's called Finally Rich; pity that Keef had to wait so long for his millions — and it's a hard-ass dispatch from the increasingly scary streets of Keef's hometown of Chicago. At a time when hip-hop stars are absorbing other genres (R&B, EDM, indie rock) and dialing back the misogyny and violence, Keef counts as something of a holdout. His raps — cold and detached, and full of gunshots, ambulance sirens, "bitches," drugs and money — reflect the worldview of a young man without much in the way of role models. Perhaps Gucci Mane, who recently signed Keef to his Brick Squad label, will be a positive influence in this young man's life. But probably not.
Saturday, August 31, at the Uptown Theater (3700 Broadway, 816-753-8665)
Reach, Heartfelt Anarchy, Stik Figa, the Abnorm
The Riot Room's patio stage at The Pitch Music Showcase in early August was a nice crash course in local hip-hop talent, and this bill (which includes two overlaps in Reach and Stik Figa) is just about as solid. If Chief Keef's gangsta style isn't your flavor of rap, the more thoughtful and playful, conscious hip-hop that these acts are laying down might be more your speed.
Friday, August 30, at the Brick (1727 McGee, 816-421-1634)
The Love Language
Don't sleep on the new Love Language album, Ruby Red. It's full of gorgeous, heady baroque-rock songs with the kind of melodies you can really cozy up to. Among other influences, I'm hearing Broken Social Scene, Burt Bacharach, Peter Bjorn and John, and John Hughes soundtracks. That mélange could easily come across as scattershot and uneven over the course of an album (or a song), but the Love Language is making it all cohere pretty expertly. Support here from locals the Empty Spaces and Schwervon.
Saturday, August 31, at Czar (1531 Grand, 816-421-0300)
Noise rock and punk music have been bleeding into each other at a more accelerated pace in recent years, and Los Angeles duo No Age is among the leading practitioners of the trend. Their new, fourth album, An Object, is by turns hazily experimental and blisteringly angular. It's maybe a little quieter than previous albums but no great departure from their core sound. With Protect Me and Lazy.
Thursday, August 29, at FOKL (556 Central, Kansas City, Kansas)