Posts Tagged ‘Kansas City’

The Naked and Famous “Higher” and “Punching in a Dream” Live at the Midland

November 25, 2016
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The Naked and Famous at the Midland, 11/4/16

The Naked and Famous recently smashed Kansas City with an energetic, two-hour set of indie-pop at the Midland. Check out footage I shot of the new single “Higher” and the classic “Punching in a Dream.”

The Happy Clappy Glory of Grouplove

November 16, 2016
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Grouplove at the KC Live Block, 10/21/16

Grouplove recently smashed an energetic two-hour set at the KC Live Block. I consider the California-based band to be the “Kings of Happy Clappy” indie rock. They have a special relationship with KC and always bring the heat live. Grouplove’s latest album, Big Mess, is one of my favorite albums of the year. The songs are more intricate and feature more dynamics and texture than some of their earlier material. Live, the new songs meshed well with the older tunes. Check out live footage I shot of the new track “Good Morning” and the classic “Tongue Tied” below:

Bishop Briggs “River” Live at the Midland

November 16, 2016
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Bishop Briggs at the Midland, 10/14/16

Bishop Briggs released one of the biggest songs of 2016 with “River.” Live, Bishop really brings the energy and her vocals are passionate. Check out this soulful version of “River” I shot during her recent set at the Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland.

Interview: GGOOLLDD

November 16, 2016
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GGOOLLDD live at the RecordBar, 11/11/16

I recently did a quick live interview with two members of the up-and-coming indie group GGOOLLDD. The Wisconsin-based band played Sound Machine, an event at the RecordBar curated by Kansas City label The Record Machine.

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GGOOLLD at the RecordBar, 11/11/16

Check out my interview and the video for “Boyz” below:

A Complete Vision of Silence: Notes From My First Experience with Sensory Deprivation Floating.

July 1, 2016
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Floating KC (Image via http://www.floatingkc.com)

A few months ago, I had a dream about floating in a sensory deprivation tank. I told myself if I saw any indicators to do it that I had give it a shot. I felt a really strong pull to attempt floating. The morning after my dream, I opened up Facebook and the first post I read was from a friend of mine that tried a sensory deprivation tank in my neighborhood. Here are some notes about my experience with sensory deprivation at Floating KC.
The session begins with a 15 minute chair massage. The float lasts for an hour.
You are in 10 inches of water with 1,200 pounds of Epsom salts, when you first enter the tank, there are lights and soft music. However, the sounds fade to silence and total darkness. The water is 93 degrees, the same temperature as your skin.
The experience felt like the complete vision of silence. My mind kept repeating that is was the complete vision of silence.
Feeling weightless, any mental weight/stress seems to slip away.
You really meld with the water. Things just seem to blend together. It’s hard to tell where your body ends and the water begins.
Everything seems slow, but the concept of time doesn’t matter.
Floating feels like you’re in zero gravity.

I could really hear my breathing.
The feelings of bliss and euphoria were very joyful. Seriously chill vibes.
It felt like the best, deepest meditation ever.
Floating felt like a really good massage, but for your brain as well.
I moved around the tank. I would push off and my mind told me it would take 1,000 years to get to the other side of the tank.
I stretched lengthwise. My mind told me I was 1,000 feet long.
I saw little flashes of light. They were these quick, golden, flickers of light. “These are excitement bolts,” my mind stated.
My mind thought about how my eyelids were heavy. I visualized a sack of cartoon style eyeballs.
Near the end of the session, a realization come to me. Whatever happens in life, I have to be peaceful about it. No matter what happens, I have to greet it with peace.
The lights came back on, the music started playing and it jolted me back to reality.
Floating in a sensory deprivation tank was an extremely chill experience. Everyone might have different experiences, but I would recommend it.

McClain Approved: Laura Gibson “Two Kids.”

June 30, 2016
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Laura Gibson in Kansas City, 6/20/16

Laura Gibson is a passionate songwriter and vocalist. She recently showcased her quality songwriting and glorious voice while opening for David Bazan in Kansas City. Gibson’s solo, acoustic set focused on songs off of Empire Builder, her excellent new album. Once you learn about Laura Gibson, you will have discovered one of the best singer-songwriters in music today. Her take on indie-folk is entrancing.

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Laura Gibson in Kansas City, 6/20/16

The jaunty, weird love song “Two Kids” is a great example of Laura Gibson’s appeal. Gibson’s emotive vocals soar over the sparse accompaniment of her acoustic guitar. The song is simple, direct and beautiful.

Here’s a solo, acoustic version of “Two Kids” recorded live at RecordBar:

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Myself and the lovely Laura Gibson

Big Gigantic Bring the Saxy Dance Party to the Midland.

April 5, 2016
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Big Gigantic at the Midland, 4/2/16

Big Gigantic brought their live electronica jams to the Midland April 2nd. The Colorado-based drums and sax duo represent a fresh take on dance music. Big Gigantic’s sound is a mixture of dubstep, house, hip-hop and jazz. Their instrumentation and sound is a nice change of pace from the standard DJ playing beats. The songs flowed effortlessly and the mix of bass drops and breezy sax lines got the crowd moving.

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Big Gigantic at the Midland, 4/2/16

A lot of the set was focused on remixes and covers. Their remix of Major Lazer’s “Wave” was a highlight. It was a quality evening of party music. With their mix of sax and hard driving beats, Big Gigantic kept the crowd fired up and hype all night.

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Big Gigantic at the Midland, 4/2/16

An Uncomfortable Question for White Hip Hop Fans.

January 14, 2016
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A$AP Ferg (Image via RapDirect.com)

A local music journalist talked to me after A$AP Ferg’s opening set for G-Easy in Kansas City Tuesday night. “You went to school in New Orleans, I’m sure you have an opinion on this, ” he began. “The crowd here is 99 percent white. This might be an uncomfortable question, but how does it make you feel to hear 3,000 white kids shouting back the n-word to a black rapper when it’s in his lyrics?” “Not good,” I responded meekly.

Ferg’s set hit the crowd hard and the trap beats had them going wild. The sold out audience on this night was mostly young white kids, between the ages of 13 and 19.  The nasty, excellent track “Shabba” completely smashed 3,000 people at the Midland. They loved every raunchy second and rapped along with each line.

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A$AP Ferg Crowd, at the Midland, 1/12/16

I hope the kids learn someday. As a fan, you have to make the conscious choice. The question might be rough, but the answer is simple. Even in the sometimes trashy world of hip hop, as a fan and audience member, it is all about respect.

Finding the Hipness Within.

January 5, 2016

A friend of mine told me a cautionary tale the other day. “My roommate named her cat David Bowie Waffles. She was trying way too hard,” she said. Just because you can do something, it doesn’t mean you should. You don’t have to try that hard. “At first, I thought it was Tom Hanks Pancakes. I remembered that the cat’s name is David Bowie Waffles,” she clarified.

The people I know that are actually hip often just let it flow effortlessly from themselves. They aren’t out there trying to impress, they just do what they do. You shouldn’t have to force the hipness. It sounds cliche, but being true to who you are is the hippest way you can be. Realness over everything. Being real never goes out of style.

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YJs Snackbar

David Ford is one of the hippest people I know in KC. An artist, Ford is also the owner of the legendary YJs Snack Bar. YJs is a laid back, funky spot in the Crossroads. David recently gave me a rundown about a trip to Ethiopia, “The cities featured a lot of cosmopolitan  jazz and the countryside was very rural. It was a lot of goat slaughter, 2,000 ritual goat slaughter.” It was a strange description, but had me intrigued.

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The next night, I was watching Anthony Bourdain on CNN. He was in Ethiopia, of course. He described the cosmopolitan, jazzy vibes of the cities and the ritual goat slaughter of the countryside. David Ford is a man that is ahead of the curve, constantly pushing forward. David Ford is hip because he is true to himself.

Personal hipness comes from deep within yourself. Being open to the wonder of the world around you can help make you hipper. Being present in the moment can help you tap back into the realness of yourself. No need to try too hard, just be real.

 

 

 

The Wilco Double Up.

December 30, 2015
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Wilco at Pitchfork Music Festival 2015 (July 17, 2015)

Wilco proved (yet again) this year why they are one of the best live bands ever. I was able to catch two Wilco shows in one week this year. It was my attempt at the Wilco Double Up. I was was also finally able to catch the famed Chicago band in a hometown show, which was nice to cross off of my concert goals list.

One of the criticisms I’ve heard thrown at Wilco over the years is that some people label it as “dad rock.” You wish your dad was Nels Cline. When he uncorks solos like this on “Impossible Germany,” it will melt your face off of your face.

Like many great live bands, I respect that Wilco never play the same set/show twice. They will play some tracks you love, some songs you would never expect and some curve balls. The quality of Jeff Tweedy’s songwriting is best showcased at a Wilco gig, because you get so many songs from different eras of the band. Sometimes, they remind you how great some deeper cuts can be. They got really expansive on “One Wing” and covered the Uncle Tupelo song “New Madrid” at the Kansas City show. The Crossroads KC show also served as a great use of dynamics. The majority of the show was rocked out, fully electric. However, the encore was acoustic. This was a nice change in pace and made for a very well-rounded show.

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Wilco at Crossroads KC (July 15, 2015)

After over 20 years, it would be easy for a band to rest on their laurels and phone it in. This is not the case with Wilco. Between the KC gig on Wednesday and the Pitchfork Music Festival set in Chicago on Friday, Wilco dropped their first album in four years Star Wars.

At the Pitchfork set, Wilco played the entire new album, released the day before, live for the first time. Playing a whole new album live is risky, but Wilco is constantly pushing forward and being innovative. The new songs have a looser, carefree quality. The sprawl of some of the new songs reminded me of Sonic Youth. The crowd seemed confused at first, but warmed up at the songs wafted through the Chicago breeze. They followed up Star Wars with a bunch of classics. Watching people freak out to “Handshake Drugs” in the summer sun can be a glorious thing.

Wilco had a big 2015. They showed why they are still one of the best live bands touring today by never settling, consistently busting out setlists that clear 25 songs, and always being willing to surprise. The shows are always solid and the sense of something unexpected happening can create so much joy. Even after over 20 years, it will be fun to see what the future holds for Wilco.

 

 


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