I respect the intensity and precision, but brutal, growling Cookie Monster metal has never really been my thing. I wish I were more into terrifying music, but alas, we can't control what we love. The closest I come to getting down with that sound is with a band like Russian Circles, which cuts its car-crash riffs and jagged time signatures with more delicate, atmospheric passages. Some people call this post-rock, which is a phrase I'm not quite sure I understand. I think of the Chicago act like a more intense version of Explosions in the Sky: locked in, nuanced, instrumental, and thunderously heavy when it needs to be.
Tuesday, July 3, at the Riot Room (4048 Broadway, 816-442-8179)
The Wilders are like the Grand Canyon of the Kansas City music scene. You hear they're great, they've been around forever, but you kind of take them for granted. Then you actually see them play a live set and understand why everybody loves them so much. Late last year, the country-Americana band announced that it would soon be going on an indefinite hiatus and, in December, played what I figured would be its last local show in a long while. Very exciting, then, to learn about this Knuckleheads gig, which is the Wilders' actual last scheduled show (at least for now).
Saturday, June 30, at Knuckleheads Saloon (2715 Rochester, 816-483-1456)
Yonder Mountain String Band
On the Venn diagram of jam band and bluegrass, Yonder Mountain String Band occupies the overlap. The Colorado "newgrass" act merges formalist string plucking with loose, improvisational jams and buttresses its sound with memorable melodies.
Sunday, July 1, at Crossroads KC at Grinders (417 East 18th Street, 816-472-5454)
Reverend Horton Heat, with Lucero, Mountain Sprout, and Rumblejetts
This packed bill offers a sampling of the warm, deranged sounds of flyover country. Lots of -billy suffixes, too: manic psychobilly from Reverend Horton Heat, hillbilly bluegrass from Mountain Sprout, and local rockabilly from the Rumblejetts. Lucero, the most compelling act here, plays hard-and-fast Southern rock with punk undertones.
Saturday, June 30, at Crossroads KC at Grinders (417 East 18th Street, 816-472-5454)
One of the hottest stars in country music today is a 300-pound former professional golfer from Georgia named Colt Ford, who raps instead of sings. His approach is rigid: He raps the verses (Ford's flow is distinctly Southern, in the mold of guys like Young Jeezy or Gucci Mane) and then brings on somebody with a pretty voice to sing the chorus. He's also unabashed about milking every last drop from cheap country clichés. His latest single is called "Back," and you won't be even remotely surprised to learn that the lyrics following that word are when life was simple.
Thursday, June 28, at the KC Live Stage, Power & Light District (13th Street and Grand, 816-842-1085)