Concerts

Apr
5
Wed
Radiohead @ Sprint Center
Apr 5 @ 7:30 pm
Radiohead @ Sprint Center | Kansas City | Missouri | United States

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Apr
11
Tue
Highly Suspect @ recordBar
Apr 11 @ 8:00 pm
Highly Suspect @ recordBar | Kansas City | Missouri | United States

Festival-storming trio Highly Suspect returned with second albumThe Boy Who Died Wolf on November 18th, 2016. The moving, jubilant LP from the Brooklyn alt-renegades follows two Top 10 Mainstream Rock hits (“Lydia,” “Bloodfeather”) and two Grammy nominations (Best Rock Song, Best Rock Album) just one year from the release of their 300 Entertainment debut, 2015’s Mister Asylum. For the follow-up, the band — Johnny Stevens (guitar/vocals), and fraternal twin brother rhythm section Rich (bass/vocals) and Ryan Meyer (drums/vocals) — are reappearing stronger, livelier and more mature. The effort earned the boys a third Grammy nominated for DzMy Name Is Humandz (Best Rock Song.)

“The title The Boy Who Died Wolf, it’s like, we were so young and now we’re adults,” says Stevens. “I went through a lot of issues that I had to sort out and sometimes I can’t believe that I’m alive. And now here I am traveling the world with my best friends, making music, and living the exact dream that we had set out to accomplish a long time ago … We’re learning a different lifestyle. And it’s good, it’s positive. But it’s also hard to let go of everything that happened in the past.”

That new lifestyle comes in the wake of success that’s snowballed since 2014, featuring Grammy nods; radio smashes; stops at major festivals (Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Reading and Leeds and so on); tours alongside Scott Weiland, Chevelle and Catfish & the Bottlemen to name a few; tours around the world including Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the UK as well as multiple headlining tours in the United States one of which is currently underway. The feeling of celebration infuses The Boy Who Died Wolf, while still heading into haunted regions of Steven’s past, yowling somewhere between the metronomic robot metal of Queens of the Stone Age, the bluesy wallop of Jack White and the feedback-shrieking noise-pop of In Utero-era Nirvana.

To record the LP, the band traveled far from their New York comfort zone to Bogotá, Colombia, recording with Mister Asylum producer Joel Hamilton (The Black Keys and Wu-tang, Tom Waits, Elvis Costello,).

“Normally we would record in New York or L.A., and when we’re in those places we just have too many distractions, too many friends,” says Stevens. “When you’re trying to make art.. pure art, it’s good to be secluded. So we were literally in a fortress, 20-foot walls all around this compound in the middle of Bogota.”

“The energy around you, the culture that you’re taking in, will affect the songs,” he continues. “We were really enjoying ourselves. So I think there’s a little more step to this album. There’s happier tones. There’s some dark stuff too but there are simply more uplifting moments on this album. I think we finally realized we are supposed to be here making music. That people like what we do. We had more trust in ourselves and each other and just let the music come out.

The upbeat vibe begins to show its face lyrically in the lead single “My Name Is Human” (“I’m feeling the way that I’m feeling myself”), and then appears full force on the blazing desert-rock dynamite of “Postres” (“I’m havin’ fun for the rest of my days”), but takes a back seat in their dreamy cover of Real Life’s 1983 new wave swooner “Send Me an Angel” and on the anthemic “Little One” which reminds us all of the hopeless, lovelorn pangs that most have undoubtedly felt in the pit of their guts somewhere along the lines. But even the more serious songs are steeped in an unrelenting optimism. A great friend of theirs took his own life while the band were in Colombia, to which they responded with “For Billy,” a beaming post-grunge burst.

“The song is not a downer, it’s sad, but it’s a charged up anthem,” explains Stevens. “It’s what he would have wanted. It was a really sad moment but he was such a happy person. So that song is something he can blare through his Harley speakers wherever he is now .”

Johnny describes Billy as an “original crewmember” of MCID, the collective shouted out on Highly Suspect’s jackets, hats, lyrics and tattoos. “That’s our ethos,” says Johnny of the acronym that stands for “My Crew Is Dope.” “We’re trying to invite any and all positive people to what was once exclusively for us. We’ve realized its bigger than us; as long as you’re not a racist, not a homophobe and you have good intentions then we welcome you to join the family and spread the love.” In turn, Wolf’s “Viper Strike” namechecks MCID in a venomous, knives-out attack on bigots: “We’re all equal except for you/’Cause you’re an asshole with an ugly point of view”

“It’s a family of positivity that we’re really trying to build,” says Johnny. “Our whole purpose is not just about being some famous fuckin’ band, but kind of making a movement. Making a difference for our generation who are so constantly misled. We barely made it out of the wrong mentality. We want to help. We’re no fuckin hippies, those days are gone. The irony is that now you have to “fight” for positivity. Which is crazy but so be it. We’re strapped and ready to defend free thinking. When you come to our shows, it’s kind of like this family affair.”

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Apr
12
Wed
In This Moment @ Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland
Apr 12 @ 6:00 pm
In This Moment @ Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland | Kansas City | Missouri | United States

With Motionless in White, Avatar, and Gemini Syndrome

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Apr
26
Wed
Mastodon w/ Eagles of Death Metal @ Uptown Theater
Apr 26 @ 7:30 pm
Mastodon w/ Eagles of Death Metal @ Uptown Theater | Kansas City | Missouri | United States

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Apr
28
Fri
Breaking Benjamin @ Uptown Theater
Apr 28 @ 7:30 pm
Breaking Benjamin @ Uptown Theater | Kansas City | Missouri | United States

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Apr
30
Sun
Killswitch Engage w/ Anthrax @ Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland
Apr 30 @ 6:00 pm
Killswitch Engage w/ Anthrax @ Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland | Kansas City | Missouri | United States

Metalcore forefathers Killswitch Engage and thrash legends Anthrax announce today that they will hit the road this Spring to co-headline a 27-date North American tour, presented by SiriusXM.  The bands’ itinerary will also include an April 15 appearance at the Texas Independence Festival in Austin as well as each band headlining two solo shows separate from the double bill.  With Anthrax and KsE rotating the closing slot over the course of the dates, the tour will hit the ground on March 29 in Montclair, NJ and then criss-cross the continent, wrapping up in Boston on May 7.  The intense and dynamic The Devil Wears Prada will provide direct support on all dates.  Tickets go on sale to the general public this Friday, 12/16 at 10AM local time.  Log on to http://www.killswitchengage.com   www.anthrax.com  or www.tdwpband.com for all details regarding ticket purchasing and pre-sales.

For Anthrax, these dates are in support of the band’s critically-celebrated 11th album, For All Kings (Megaforce), released last February.  Celebrating its 35th anniversary, 2016 has been action-packed for Anthrax.  For All Kings debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Hard Rock Albums chart and #9 on the Billboard 200, the band’s second Top 10 chart entry.  Two striking music videos made with director Jack Bennett, one over-the-top grizzly, the other an innovative stop-motion piece, an appearance on “Late Night with Seth Meyers” that paired the band with the iconic Robert De Niro, and sharing stages with bands like Iron Maiden, Lamb of God, Avenged Sevenfold, and fellow Big Four members Slayer, were just a few of the highlights.

“Anthrax and Killswitch will be a really good blend for fans,” said Anthrax’s Charlie Benante.  “We both play metal, but we play two different forms of the genre.  I think fans of both bands are in for a ‘Total Explosion of the Senses.’”  Added the band’s Frank Bello, “This Anthrax/KsE tour is a powerful ball of energy ready to unleash the metal in the U.S.”   “Anthrax and Killswitch – KillThrax!  Holy crap!,” said Scott Ian.  “I am so excited about these upcoming shows with our old friends Killswitch Engage.  Get out your pit pants and start stretching now for all the glorious action and fun!” 

Killswitch Engage released the universally regarded Incarnate (Roadrunner) this past March, which debuted #6 on the Billboard 200, and #1 on Billboard’s Hard Rock Album chart.  2016 also saw KsE appearing on a Stars Wars-themed Revolver cover, staging an unforgettable and intimate, five-club NYC takeover for album release week, and embarking on an impressive Incarnate World Tour. On November 25, the band released Beyond the Flames: Home Video Vol. II on Blu-ray, a treasure trove of gripping content, containing over 3.5 hours of footage.  At the heart of this release is a 75-minute documentary that chronicles the return of original vocalist Jesse Leach, after nearly a decade away, to the band he helped form back in 1999.  It picks up right where their 2005 {Set This} World Ablaze release left off, revealing the rest of the untold KsE story.

KsE singer Jesse Leach echoed Anthrax’s enthusiasm about the upcoming trek, saying. “We are so stoked to tour with thrash legends Anthrax! We are sure this will bring a powerhouse of a live show with the combination of both bands. This is, hands down, the most excited we’ve been to tour alongside a band in a long while. This will be one you won’t want to miss. KillThrax is coming for you!!!!”  

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May
12
Fri
Opeth w/ Gojira @ Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland
May 12 @ 6:00 pm
Opeth w/ Gojira @ Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland | Kansas City | Missouri | United States

There are few bands that can or will match Sweden’s Opeth. Since forming in the tiny Stockholm suburb of Bandhagen in 1990, the Swedes have eclipsed convention, defiantly crushed the odds, and, most importantly, crafted 12 stunningly beautiful, intrinsically intense albums to become one of the best bands on the planet; whether that be live or on record[A1] . Ask any Opeth fan. Enquire with any band that’s shared the proverbial pine with the Swedes. Or, get a label representative to talk Opeth. They’ll all tell you the same thing: Opeth are peerless. And they’re only getting better.

Opeth’s new album, Sorceress, their first for Nuclear Blast via the band’s [CD2] imprint[A3]  label Moderbolaget Records, is proof chief architect Mikael Åkerfeldt has a near-endless well of greatness inside. From the album’s opener “Persephone” to “The Wilde Flowers” and “Strange Brew” to the album’s counterpart title tracks “Sorceress” and “Sorceress II”, Opeth’s twelfth full-length is an unparalleled adventure, where visions cleverly and secretly change, colours mute as if weathered by time, and sounds challenge profoundly. Sorceress is, by definition, moored in Åkerfeldt’s impressive record collection—his one true vice—but, as always, there’s more invention than appropriation at play.

“This time around I didn’t think about what I wanted to do,” Åkerfeldt reveals. “I was forced to write. But once I started, it was easy. This record, like the last record, didn’t take long to write. Like five or six months. The thoughts behind this record developed as I was writing. The only thing I was thinking about with this record was to write that songs didn’t musically connect. I made sure if I had a song that was new sounding for this record, I’d make the next song completely different. I think the songs are very different from one another. It’s very diverse.”

Certainly, every Opeth record has had diversity. In 1995, Orchid reset the rules of death metal. Six years later, Blackwater Park hit the high note for musicality in a genre generally devoid of it. Damnation, in 2003, was the work of a band determined to upend the norm. Five years after that, Watershed closed Opeth’s chapter on death metal by visiting its darkest corners and holding its native brutality aloft. And in 2014, Pale Communion officially bridged the progressive music gap by twisting the intrepid sounds of ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s into contemporary brilliance. So, really, what’s so different about Sorceress?

“My music taste got a little wider,” grins Åkerfeldt. “I started listening to jazz. I bought a lot of Coltrane records. I never really thought Coltrane would be for me because I like ‘dinner jazz.’ I like comfortable, soft, nice, and lovely jazz. Like Miles Davis’ ‘50s stuff. Porgy and Bess, for example. I guess Dave Brubeck fits in there, too. So, that’s the only new influx of musical inspiration for me. Other than that, I’ve been buying the same type of records I always have. Prog, symphonic rock, singer/songwriter, metal, hard rock… But there wasn’t anything that set me off like The Zombies or Scott Walker. Nothing got me going this time.”

Actually, that’s not entirely true. Åkerfeldt’s always mining for progressive gold. Good, rare music is particularly good at getting his motor running. He found double-gold in one-off Italian outfit Il Paese dei Balocchi and Bobak, Jons, Malone’s ultra-obscure Motherlight album. To wit, get Åkerfeldt talking about either and he’s all too pleased to discuss the finer points of Il Paese dei Balocchi’s string-based darkness or how he fan-boyed Malone via email to get the famed British orchestrator and one-time Iron Maiden producer to contribute to Sorceress.

“I absolutely love Il Paese dei Balocchi,” Åkerfeldt professes. “They did one album. It’s insanely good. It has everything I love about progressive rock in it. This album is so orchestrated and epic. It’s got lots of string sections. It’s very moody, dark, and sad. It’s a mystery they didn’t do any more. As for Will Malone, he did the strings and stuff for the Sabbath records—Sabotage and Never Say Die! But now he does strings for pop artists like Joss Stone, The Verve, Depeche Mode. I looked him up, mostly because he was the house engineer for Morgan Studios in the ‘60s. He was also in a few bands. Like Orange Bicycle and played on the Motherlight album. He also had a solo record, which is also amazing and superbly rare. It’s orchestral. The bulk of it is strings. It’s kind of like Nick Drake.”

Åkerfeldt’s quick to point out, however, his newfound progressive music loves didn’t directly inspire him to write Sorceress. The majority of the album was penned in Opeth’s rehearsal space, where, nestled comfortably in a corner, a computer, a keyboard, and a microphone sit ready for the next Opeth epic. It isn’t plush, but it’s exactly the type of environment the frontman needs to focus his creative self into song.

“When I’m in a writing mode, I have tunnel vision,” says Åkerfeldt. “I have a really good work ethic. I go down to the studio everyday early in the morning and I work. I absolutely love it. It’s so much fun. It’s much easier now, too. I write complete demos. I sequence the songs in the order I want them to be on the record. I do mixing. I do overdubs. Once I’m done, I give copies to the guys so they can listen to the album. They practice to it on their own. When it’s time to go into the studio, everybody does their own thing. It obviously works.”

For Sorceress, Opeth returned to Rockfield Studios in Wales, where the Swedes had tracked Pale Communion in 2014 with Tom Dalgety. The experience was so positive and historical—the countryside studio was also home to pivotal Budgie, Queen, Rush, Judas Priest, and Mike Oldfield recordings—there really was no other option for Opeth and crew. Rockfield Studios or bust! The studio, with Dalgety yet againin tow, provided the necessary isolation, the right bucolic atmosphere, the best gear, and three square meals a day for Sorceress to come out the other end spitting fire. All in 12 bittersweet days, too.

“There was a time when I came out of our recordings a wreck,” Åkerfeldt bemoans. “But now I come out with a wish. I wish it wouldn’t have gone so quickly. There’s emptiness after I leave the studio. I love writing and recording in the studio. It’s lovely at Rockfield. It’s in the sticks. It’s got horses and cows. There’s lots of sheep in Wales. But the studio is just a studio. It’s so beautiful there. So quiet. It’s a residential studio as well, so we live there while we’re recording. We have chefs for us, too. So, we can just be there, playing, recording, and hanging out.”

If life is like a Peter Max poster, the lyrics to Sorceress aren’t. There’s color, but they’ve been treated, corrupted, and befouled. That is to say, they’re much darker. Some of bleak lyrical tones stem from Åkerfeldt’s personal life—and are thusly contorted beyond recognition—while others touch grimly on topics like love and what happens to people on the other side of it. In fact, some of the lyrical ideas are similar to what was happening on Blackwater Park.

“I made sure to write good lyrics,” Åkerfeldt laughs. “This sounds very old-fashioned black metal to say, but the lyrics are misanthropic. It’s not a concept record, so there’s no theme running through the record. Most of the record deals with love. The negative aspects of love. The jealously, the bitterness, the paranoia, and the mind games of love. So, it’s a love record. Love songs. Love can be like a disease or a spell.”

Luckily, for Åkerfeldt and crew—bassist Martín Méndez, drummer Martin Axenrot, guitarist Fredrik Åkesson, and keyboardist Joakim Svalberg—the lineup doesn’t have to deal with Sorceress’ main theme. They’ve been together since Heritage was completed, and according to Åkerfeldt he’s not been in a better band situation before. Not since Orchid. Not since Still Life. Not since Ghost Reveries.

“It’s the best band situation I’ve ever had. Fans will look at our eras and have their favorite lineup, but this is the best. Even the happiest days of the first and second lineups aren’t comparable to what I have now. We never fight. It’s like a good work team. We know each other professionally and personally. As much as we’re a band, we’re also friends. We hang out when we’re not doing Opeth.”

A core team is a good thing, when Opeth’s credibility is in full view of fans and critics. Åkerfeldt’s very aware of what the masses have had to say about Opeth since Watershed. While some disliked the musical shift on Heritage, most have applauded it. They’ve come to expect something new from Opeth. True to form, Sorceress will give long-time fans and weary critics reason to re-think Opeth and what it takes to be musically fearless.

“I hope they’ll like the record,” posits Åkerfeldt. “I can only talk from my perspective and taste here, but we offer diversity that’s not really present in the scene today. Whatever genre. We’ve always been a special band. We’ve gotten a lot of shit for being different. We still do. Our time will come, I think. It comes down to perseverance. It comes down to not giving up or giving in to public opinion. Music is about doing your own thing or going your own way.”

Opeth – Biography 2016

By Chris Dick

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May
14
Sun
Soundgarden @ Starlight Theater
May 14 @ 6:30 pm
Soundgarden @ Starlight Theater | Kansas City | Missouri | United States

With Dillinger Escape Plan

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Korn @ Uptown Theater
May 14 @ 7:00 pm
Korn @ Uptown Theater | Kansas City | Missouri | United States

With All That Remains and Ded. 

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May
16
Tue
Amon Amarth @ The Cotillion
May 16 @ 7:00 pm
Amon Amarth @ The Cotillion | Wichita | Kansas | United States

Heavy metal is a way of life, but it is not for the faint of heart. The history of metal is strewn with fading memories of bands that fell apart when times were tough. But history is written by the victors, and Amon Amarth have been marching purposefully from triumph to greater triumph for the last two decades. Formed amid the fertile Swedish metal scene in the mid ’90s, these dedicated diehards brought a new sense of drama and destruction to the world of heavy music, propagating tales of Viking mythology and mortal combat over a devastating soundtrack of crushing rhythms, refined melody and rousing, rebellious refrains. From the release of their debut album Once Sent From The Golden Hall in 1998, Amon Amarth’s trajectory was firmly upward, as this band’s devotion to touring the world and spreading their inspirational creed began to resonate with ever-growing hordes of like-minded metalheads, first across Europe and then, in true Viking style, across the Atlantic and into North America.

With each successive album, Amon Amarth’s reputation grew; their arsenal of heroic hymns gaining strength and depth at the same time. Perhaps the most significant breakthrough came with cast-iron classic Twilight Of The Thunder God in 2008, wherein the band – vocalist Johan Hegg, guitarists Olavi Mikkonen Johan Söderberg, then drummer Fredrik Andersson and bassist Ted Lundström – seemed to perfect their formula of pulverising, fists-in-the-air anthems and shift into a higher creative gear. The impact was immediate and vast, and since that moment they have been unstoppable, as Surtur Rising (2011) and, most recently, Deceiver Of The Gods (2013) consolidated that success and took Amon Amarth’s explosive and exhilarating live show around the world many more times, and in front of ever-multiplying audiences.

Once again waking from their post-victory slumber, Amon Amarth are due to return with their most monstrous and spectacular album to date. A tour-de-force of cinematic melodic metal that combines the best of the genre’s traditional wing with modern heft and heart, Jomsviking is a concept piece inspired by the elite Viking mercenaries of its title, conceived and written by Johan Hegg and brought to life by the band which for the recording sees drummer Tobias Gustafsson [ex-Vomitory] slotting in neatly as a special guest session drummer.

“Deceiver Of The Gods was very successful for us and we had a good run with that and did some really great tours,” says Hegg. “Even before we changed drummers for this record we had the idea to make a concept album. It was something we’d never done before and it gave us a challenge. I started writing the story, went into it wholeheartedly and once you start going down that path there’s really no turning back.”

By far their most ambitious project to date, Amon Amarth’s tenth album unfolds like a synapse-melting multi-dimensional epic, with countless moments of classic metal grandeur and deathly aggression but also a newfound mastery of atmosphere and evocative dynamics that perfectly compliment the highs, lows and furious battles of Hegg’s narrative.

“It’s a pretty simple story where a young man is in love with a girl but unfortunately she’s being married off. He accidentally kills a man when this happens and he has to flee,” the frontman explains. “But he swears to have revenge and win her back. He can’t let go of the past. He feels that he’s been wronged and his life has been destroyed. The story of the Jomsviking is the background – it’s the way he finds to go back and claim his revenge. The way the story evolves is not a happy story… it’s a tragedy, I guess! But I like sad endings, because they’re the ones that affect you the most.”

Veering from the thunderous attack of opening statement First Kill to the victorious heavy metal sing-along of Raise Your Horns and on to the brooding drama of the closing Back On Northern Shores, Jomsviking sounds colossal – thanks, once again, to the supreme talents of producer Andy Sneap – and confirms that Amon Amarth are bigger, bolder and better than ever before in 2016. Neither deviating from their trademark sound nor restricted by it, they have simply evolved to the next level of metallic might, broadening their sonic horizons while simultaneously glorying in their cherished metal influences.

“When you write an album like this one, you’re basically making music for a movie,” says Mikkonen. “You have to follow certain moods and we had to figure out where we needed the aggressive songs or the more mellow or sad moments, and then we had to find the right ideas for that. It was difficult and it was challenging, but it was more fun! Before we were writing typical Amon Amarth songs, but this time we felt like we had to write something different. After ten albums you really need a challenge. We rose to the challenge and we’re really proud of what we’ve created.”

Bolstered by the regal presence of legendary heavy metal vocalist Doro Pesch, who duets with Johan Hegg on the heart-rending squall of A Dream That Cannot Be, Jomsviking flies the flag for authentic, red-blooded and unapologetic heavy metal while skillfully tapping into metalheads’ unerring love for epic tales of heroism, struggle, love, death and glory. Plainly the finest record of their career to date, Amon Amarth’s tenth album is certain to thrill and delight their global fanbase while the irresistible allure of Jomsviking’s cinematic heart will surely draw many more people into this band’s extraordinary sonic world. This campaign will not be stopped: 2016 will be the year that Amon Amarth conquer the world like never before.

“We just want to be more,” Mikkonen concludes. “Bigger shows, more production, everything bigger and better. I’m pretty sure it’s gonna be that way too. There’s a very good vibe in the band and I think it’s gonna be one hell of a year.”

“The shows are always absolutely fantastic,” Hegg enthuses. “When you’re onstage, performing, whether it’s a festival or a club, and you have that connection with people and you feel that reaction to all the hard work you’ve put in, that’s when you know that all the hardships you’ve experienced over the years were worth it. We are still growing. We grew with each album and we were never a trend. We’ve never followed trends and no trend has ever followed us. We’re on our own. We do what we love. There are so many shows planned in 2016 that it’s almost insane, but that’s what we live for.”

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