Whoever said "It's all been done before" never got to see the YoungBlood Brass Band combine a horn line with hip-hop.
LL Cool J brought rap and acoustic rock together when he played MTV's Unplugged back in the day, and, yeah, the Roots cornered the market on hip-hop and live instrumentation, but nobody had the nerve to bring out a sousaphone until the YBBB. Filling stages with six horns, two drummers (one on snare and one on bass) and a sousaphonist, the YoungBloods do it all, from New Orleans-style marches to head-bobbing hip-hop to Afro-Cuban beats.
The nine-piece outfit brings something fresh to the table and backs up the product with serious talent. The tuba player provides unwavering bass lines and occasionally -- and mysteriously -- imitates the sounds of turntable scratches with his lumbering instrument. John Philip Sousa is doing backspins in his grave.
The YBBB plays the Bottleneck (737 New Hampshire Street in Lawrence) at 9 p.m. with Lawrence's Approach. Ticket prices vary; call 785-842-5483.-- Michael Vennard
1/23 & 1/25
The NewEar Contemporary Chamber Ensemble updates chamber music with two shows in the area. The group performs a show titled "Equilibrium" at the Lawrence Arts Center (940 New Hampshire Street in Lawrence) at 8 p.m. Friday and again at St. Mary's Episcopal Church (13th Street and Holmes) at 5 p.m. Sunday. For tickets, call 816-235-6222.-- Vennard
Like majestic creatures fabled to expel venom from water, the Unicorns (performing Thursday in Lawrence and Friday in Columbia) prance in the footsteps of a legend. The indie band has earned comparisons to Pavement and Quasi, and performances have incorporated such antics as onstage fistfights. Call the Replay (946 Massachusetts Street, 785-749-7676) or Mojo's (1013 Park Avenue in Columbia, 573-875-0588).-- Gina Kaufmann