Friday, January 1, 2010

my favorite shows of the decade in kansas city - 23 of them

all these lists, when will they end? well, pretty soon. this list is a list i tried to avoid making. however after reading over all of the lists submitted on tim finn's (one of my favorite people in the world) back to rockville blog i was motivated.

the lists there were heavy on kemper arena and sprint center shows. i've said it a hundred times, your favorite band should never play sprint center, or whatever large box arena in the city you live. if your favorite show can happen in the bottleneck, in a room that can hold 400 people, where the artist walks through the room to get on stage you're guaranteed a more intimate show. and in many cases you can meet the band at the merch table or by their van (notice i didn't say bus).

so, with smaller venues in mind, i give you my favorite shows of the decade from kansas city and lawrence in the order they happened.

1/20/00 our lady peace hurricane
i loved this band. they were at their peak, playing huge rooms but took the night off and played a tiny room and on top of that it was an all acoustic show.

8/4/01 the appleseed cast hurricane
this show was ground breaking for me. their album "low level owl: volume 1" was about to come out and it was my first time seeing the cast. even now, almost 10 years later i get excited for everyone of their shows. and the best part, they're from right here in kansas city!

11/27/01 u2 kemper
10 weeks after 9-11 U2 plucked all the heart strings in that building for 2 hours. it really was an amazing show.

3/9/02 nikka costa beaumont
the crowd was small, but mighty for this funk, jam rock, dance party. unfortunately nikka continues to fly below the radar but she deserves the big stage. book her at bonnaroo before phish and she'd be huge!

4/22/02 sasha and digweed uptown
out of the way haters. back in the early 2000s kansas city had a small, but loyal electronica scene. small shows happened every weekend in the craziest of rooms. when this show was announced, in that community, it was like the beatles were coming.

11/14/02 aimee mann liberty hall
aimee's ability to spoon out her soul and feed it to her audience is amazing. that night everything was perfect. she was on tour in support of hew new album, "lost in space" coming off of "bachelor no. 2" and her contributions to the "magnolia" film soundtrack had her at her peak and earning well deserved respect.

9/17/03 rem starlight
i was with great friends and we had just lost a dear friend a month to the date of that show. michael stipe said her name twice and dedicated "nightswimming" to her. it was amazing.

04/28/04 damien rice liberty hall
i'd built this show up in my head for six months and it lived up to the hype. he turned liberty hall into a library, so quiet and attentive. damo and lisa hannigan's vocals ripped through that place.

6/18/2005 matisyahu wakarusa
his heyday has certainly passed, but that night during his 3am set on the campground stage, musically it was like seeing snow for the first time. to see a hasidic jew in full garb, suit, hat, vest, and a profound beard beat boxing it was something else.

07/08/05 the album leaf jackpot
it was a show that brought out the uber smug and man were we a happy bunch. most of the time when you love a band you want everyone to know about them. you not knowing about this band is ok with me. i'll keep it for myself. that's how good it was. please come back.

8/23/05 the white stripes starlight
from the second row, during the second song i said to my buddy, this will be one of the best shows we ever see. and it was. i know bono thinks he's god, but i'd rather believe in jack white.

10/8/05 william elliott whitmore replay
it was $2 to see this show. $2. think about that. will sat on a stool in the corner of the replay lounge and it was like a friend playing in your living room, but a friend who sounded like a young tom waits.

2/18/06 NIN kemper
i was a fan of their music but didn't know what to expect. the production was crazy, scrim, huge projector, moving stage structures and perhaps bigger than all that trent reznor's expressed appreciation for his fans standing by him while he went through a crazy period of his life.

2/22/06 sigur ros uptown
the first time i saw them was five months before this show in minneapolis and it goes down as one of the best shows i've ever seen. this was equally impressive, but better it was in my hometown and i didn't need a hotel room.

5/22/06 imogean heap bottleneck
i've never seen the bottleneck so full and so hot. the walls were sweating. she was a fast, rising star and filled the stage with her musical trinkets and gadgetry and together the room lived her music. she came back six months later to liberty hall. it was equally impressive and equally full.

10/3/06 mew bottleneck
i had never heard of them and i'd only listened to them on cd for the first time on the drive from kansas city to the bottleneck. they had a guitar tech at the bottleneck. they brought in extra boards, extra lights, extra crew... madonna could have played they had so much stuff. once they fired it up it was beyond impressive.

03/31/07 explosions in the sky bottleneck
i had no idea how anyone knew about this band. then i learned about the tv show "friday night lights" and that the explosions impressively score every episode. then it made sense why the room was so full and so young. those guys filled the room with their musical thrashings for the most receiving of crowds. i was overjoyed to see a young crowd turn out like that to see an "instrumental" band, or a band that has no singer. they would come back later to the granada and do the same thing.

11/21/07 john butler trio voodoo
every once in a while kansas city surprises me. this was one of those nights. it was the night before thanksgiving which is a great night to go to the bars, but i was imagining a terrible night to go see an australian band at a casino that had never played in kansas city before. people showed up in droves! we were all treated to one of the best performances of butler's well known "ocean" that i'd ever heard.

05/05/08 the swell season uptown
less than 3 months after giving their acceptance speech for winning an oscar for the film "once" they came through town and filled the uptown with such a great love story. as impressive as the show was, was the sold out crowd that came out for the show. again, kansas city surprised me. their return show in 2009 was also another remarkable night.

09/05/08 this will destroy you jackpot
watching their drummer andrew miller is like watching "neo" in "the matrix". no one moves like that. his drumsticks are only sticks for a few seconds before they become shrapnel flying through the air. that kind of intensity pounded the walls of the jackpot all night. i love these guys.

05/11/09 manchester orchestra record bar
06/24/09 phoenix record bar
11/09/09 leonard cohen midland

you can read my thoughts on these shows in an older post HERE.

2010 to 2019 has some lofty goals. good luck.



  1. U2 at kemper was amazing, REM was indeed spiritual. What about Pearl Jam in the pouring down rain at Sandstone in 2003? Or Beck at The Uptown in 2008? Both of those at least deserve an honorable menion.

  2. pearl jam in st louis at the fox on 10/5/05 and beck in tulsa at cain's on 6/9/06 were better than the local shows and this was a kc list so it didn't work out. steve, you should go to more shows this year!


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