KC concerts May 18-24: Lil Pump, Bluegrass in the Bottoms, Red Hot Chili Peppers
Thursday, May 18, at Liberty Hall
There’s a reason Lil Pump’s songs sound like the somewhat amateurish product of a teenager fiddling around with music software. That’s precisely what they are. “Flex Like Ouu,” the most popular selection by the 16-year-old Floridian, is more of a sketch than a proper composition. Yet the radical democratization of music discovery made possible by streaming services has made instant stars of ambitious rap dilettantes like Lil Pump. Gee Watts is among his opening acts.
8:30 p.m. Thursday, May 18. Liberty Hall. 785-749-1972. libertyhall.net. $10 in advance.
Ha Ha Tonka
Thursday, May 18, at RecordBar
Ha Ha Tonka’s long affiliation with insurgent country label Bloodshot Records is misleading. Although the band from Springfield prominently features organic instrumentation, including mandolin, Ha Ha Tonka has the pop instincts associated with groups like the Head and the Heart. Inviting songs like “Going That Way” on “Heart-Shaped Mountain,” Ha Ha Tonka’s recently released fifth album, confirms an eagerness to expand well beyond its roots in Americana. With Trapper Schoepp & the Shades.
8 p.m. Thursday, May 18. RecordBar. 816-753-5207. therecordbar.com. $15 in advance.
Bluegrass in the Bottoms
Friday, May 19, and Saturday, May 20, at Knuckleheads
The home-style picking of more than a dozen bands and the refreshing offerings of event sponsor Boulevard Brewing Co. will fuel the two-day Bluegrass in the Bottoms festival. Greensky Bluegrass, a jovial quintet from Kalamazoo, Mich., is Friday’s headliner. The Infamous Stringdusters, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, Joshua Davis, the Naughty Pines and Betse & Clarke also perform on Friday. Railroad Earth, a New Jersey band indebted to the late Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, tops a bill on Saturday that includes the Yonder Mountain String Band, Fruition, the Shook Twins, the Hardship Letters and Whiskey for the Lady.
5:30 p.m. Friday, May 19, and Saturday, May 20. Knuckleheads. 816-483-1456. knuckleheadskc.com. Single-day tickets are $41 in advance. Two-day passes are $71 in advance.
Friday, May 19, at the Uptown Theater
“Once you have heard it, you have to get it.” The lyric from the 2002 hit “Floetic,” the debut single of Marsha Ambrosius’ group Floetry, was prophetic. The Liverpool, England, native has an impressive track record of creating sophisticated but popular R&B. She co-wrote the silky ballad “Butterflies,” Michael Jackson’s last big hit. As a solo artist, Ambrosius has specialized in lush neo-soul songs like the 2010 chart-topper “Far Away.” With Eric Benét.
8 p.m. Friday, May 19. Uptown Theater. 816-753-8665. uptowntheater.com. $37-$87 in advance.
Friday, May 19, at Crossroads KC
Tracking the confusing careers of the five members of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony is a headache-inducing pursuit. Bizzy Bone, Flesh-n-Bone, Krayzie Bone, Layzie Bone and Wish Bone often work at cross-purposes, firing off inscrutable messages on social media. It’s entirely clear, however, that the initial volley of hits created by the Ohio group sound better with each passing year. The glorious vocal harmonies and durable beats on the classic 1990s hits “Tha Crossroads,” “1st of Tha Month” and “Thuggish Ruggish Bone” are timeless. With Twista and Cure for Paranoia.
8 p.m. Friday, May 19. Crossroads KC. 785-749-3434. crossroadskc.com. $25-$76.50 in advance.
Friday, May 19, at Grandview Amphitheater
Earl Dibbles Jr., the alter ego of country artist Granger Smith, often threatens to upstage his creator. Working as Dibbles, Dallas native Smith creates parody songs like “Merica” and “Country Boy Song,” a goofy novelty in which Dibbles boasts that “I like to gig frogs, like to gut hogs, like to swim in the creek with my bird dog.” Smith scored his first chart-topping hit last year with the more conventional “Backroad Song.” With Michael Tyler.
8 p.m. Friday, May 19. Grandview Amphitheater. 816-316-4888. grandviewamp.com. $20 in advance.
Saturday, May 20, at RecordBar
The commanding voice of Big Freedia was introduced to hundreds of millions of people last year when it was sampled on Beyoncé’s “Formation.” Big Freedia emphatically declares “I came to slay” on the landmark hit. That’s precisely what the entertainer known as the Queen of Bounce does during every performance. The colorful New Orleans celebrity will bark out dance instructions to modern-day party classics including “Booty-Whop” and “Feeling Myself” at RecordBar on Saturday. With Childish Adults and DJ Diehard.
9 p.m. Saturday, May 20. RecordBar. 816-753-5207. therecordbar.com. $15 in advance.
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Sunday, May 21, at the Sprint Center
Rock fans know that death and taxes aren’t the only things that are inevitable. The unwavering popularity of the Red Hot Chili Peppers is also a sure thing. The funkateers’ hits like “Can’t Stop” are radio staples. T-shirts with the Los Angeles band’s logos continue to fly off the shelves of big box stores. The durable group is touring the world in support of “The Getaway,” an album that features more of the bass-popping and clipped singing that propelled the Red Hot Chili Peppers to stardom 30 years ago. With Irontom.
8 p.m. Sunday, May 21. Sprint Center. 816-949-7100. sprintcenter.com. $51-$101 in advance.
Meat Puppets with Mike Watt’s Jom and Terry Show
Monday, May 22, at the RecordBar
Meat Puppets and Minutemen were among the American punk-inspired bands that set fire to the conventional rock ’n’ roll playbook in the 1980s. The fried guitar jams of Arizona’s Meat Puppets still sound unlike anything else. The self-styled “scientist rock” of Minutemen, led by Mike Watt and the late D. Boon, were also at the vanguard of a musical revolution. While neither band achieved the commercial success of spiritual heirs like Nirvana, Meat Puppets and Watt remain faithful to their original visions.
8 p.m. Monday, May 22. RecordBar. 816-753-5207. therecordbar.com. $20 in advance.
Tuesday, May 23, at the Uptown Theater
Warren Haynes waxes nostalgic on Gov’t Mule’s impressive new track, “Dreams & Songs,” moaning that “we can never go back home.” The North Carolina native’s composition echoes the classic work of the Allman Brothers, the legendary ensemble he first joined in 1990. He has stayed busy since the Allman Brothers’ final show in 2014. In addition to pursuing his commendable solo career, Haynes continues to advance the Southern rock tradition with his stalwart band Gov’t Mule.
8 p.m. Tuesday, May 23. Uptown Theater. 816-753-8665. uptowntheater.com. $38 in advance.
Wednesday, May 24, at the Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland
Trey Songz attempts to outdo the outlandishly salacious music video for Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” in the promotional clip for his recent single “Animal.” Surrounded by a bevy of scantily clad women, the R&B crooner suggests that he intends to “turn the bed into a jungle.” Songz has made a career out of similarly steamy songs. The silky voiced Casanova first topped the charts in 2009 with the assertive come-on “I Invented Sex.” With Mike Angel.
8 p.m. Wednesday, May 24. Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland. 816-283-9921. midlandkc.com. $39.50-$59.50 in advance.
Low Cut Connie
Wednesday, May 24, at the Riot Room patio
Low Cut Connie is living proof of the ineffectiveness of rock critics. In spite of accumulating reams of plaudits from professional music journalists, the verbose bar band from Philadelphia remains virtually unknown among the general public. A writer for Rolling Stone insists that Low Cut Connie is making “living, fire-breathing, furniture-tossing history.” Noted rock critic Ken Tucker referred to the band’s morose songs as “hangover cures set to music.” With Shadow Rabbits and Violent Bear.
8 p.m. Wednesday, May 24. Riot Room patio. 816-442-8179. theriotroom.com. $10 in advance.