Buzz Under the Stars Night One
Newly minted pop stars the Lumineers have been delighting audiences across ye olde land with all their hoin' and heyin'. The Denver neo-folk group has played both Riot Room and Liberty Hall in the past year, and this weekend it steps up to the stage at Cricket Wireless Amphitheater for the first installment of KRZB 96.5's annual Buzz Under the Stars concert series. Also on the bill: the piano-heavy indie-rock act Cold War Kids; the very Buzz-like alt-rock of the Neighbourhood; the Mowglis, who are working the same 1960s flower-power folk-throwback terrain of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros; and the Southern, piano-driven boogie rock of J Roddy Walston and the Business.
Saturday, June 1, at Cricket Wireless Amphitheater (633 North 130th Street, Bonner Springs, 913-721-3400)
Mace Batons, with Nature Boys and Uzis
The Mace Batons (formerly the Pink Socks, sorta formerly the Litigators) is a garage-rock group led by Jeremiah Kidwell, a practicing lawyer whose onstage convulsions call to mind Elvis peaking on angel dust. Joining the band here are two very badass local punk groups: Uzis and Nature Boys. Prediction: It will be an extremely loud evening on Broadway.
Saturday, June 1, at MiniBar (3810 Broadway, 816-326-8281)
Phil Neal & the Wornalls
Phil Neal has been fronting KC bands for something like 30 years now. His latest venture, Phil Neal & the Wornalls, finds him performing the kind of pleasant power-pop songs that you might hear the Jayhawks or Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers play. It should be an ideal soundtrack for a Friday-night, happy-hour wind-down. (This is an early show, 6 p.m.)
Friday, May 31, at Czar (1531 Grand, 816-421-0300)
A brooding, British band that wears all black and stands more or less motionless in the dark while playing ambient music is basically the opposite of what I'm looking for in a live show. The xx's textured, minimalist songs — in which you can hear a bit of Portishead's watery trip-hop, the indie-rock R&B of the Weeknd, and some classy-smooth Sade tones — is, for me, better experienced alone and on headphones. But: Different strokes for different folks, y'all.
Tuesday, June 4, at the Uptown Theater (3700 Broadway, 816-753-8665)
Surfer Blood, with Foals
Surfer Blood's 2010 album, Astro Coast, is one of the better guitar-rock albums in recent memory, borrowing some Pixies rock structure, infusing it with some of Weezer's Blue Album-era tunefulness and presenting it all with a fresh, youthful breeziness. Its follow-up, Pythons, due out in June, is one I'm eagerly awaiting. Foals' sound is harder to pin down with each record; its Cure fetish has given way to a grander, dancier sound on its latest, Holy Fire — think early Phoenix by way of U2.
Wednesday, June 5, at the Granada (1020 Massachusetts, Lawrence, 785-842-1390)
The Whigs was one of the best bands I caught at Middle of the Map back in April, and part of the reason I dug its set so much was because it wasn't what I thought it would be. My understanding was that the Athens, Georgia, trio trafficked in semicorny Southern rock, but really what they do is smart, hooky rock and roll with some Southern flavor. They can fucking play: I lost my shit as they tore through "Staying Alive," an eight-minute song that whips into a balls-out rock frenzy. It's the opener on the group's most recent album, Enjoy the Company, which is worth looking into if you dig Buffalo Tom, early Kings of Leon records, or straightforward American rock music in general.
Wednesday, June 5, at Riot Room (4048 Broadway, 816-442-8179)
Guns N' Roses
Guns N' Roses is set to release a 3-D concert film this summer titled, LOL, Appetite for Democracy. Can't wait till then for your Axl fix? This Midland show is your jam. (Speaking of jam: Google "fat Axl meme" for some hilarious photos and captions mocking Axl's recent weight gain; my favorite is Welcome to the bakery, we've got pies and cakes.) I kid, but last time GNR was here, in November 2011, the band played a rocking arena show that shook Sprint Center until nearly 2 a.m.
Sunday, June 2, at the Midland (1228 Main, 816-283-9921)