KC concerts Jan. 3-9: American Aquarium, Fruition, Levels, The Ivy
8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 3, at Granada
American Aquarium’s “One Day At a Time,” an agonizing examination of BJ Barham’s newfound sobriety, is one of the most riveting songs released in 2018. The front man of the longstanding roots-rock band from North Carolina confesses that “for years the drinks were just a crutch until the drinks were just too much/I guess it comes with the job.” Barham sings that many of the wild-eyed songs he’s written for American Aquarium “fulfill a human need to stand back and watch another man bleed.” With Jamie Lin Wilson. 785-842-1390. Tickets are $15 through thegranada.com.
8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 3, at Knuckleheads
Fruition’s eclectic set at the inaugural edition of Bluegrass in the Bottoms in 2017 served notice that the ambitious event wasn’t a typical bluegrass festival. The band from Portland has roots in bluegrass, but Fruition has evolved into an unpredictable ensemble that’s equally comfortable referencing jam band icons like the Grateful Dead and indie-rock bands such as Dr. Dog. Intended as a preview of the Bluegrass in the Bottoms festival slated for May, Thursday’s show likely will infuriate bluegrass purists. With Brad Parsons & Starbird. 816-483-1456. Tickets are $15 through knuckleheadskc.com.
John D. Hale Band
8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 4, at Knuckleheads
Astronaut Linda Maxine Godwin is the most famous person from Jackson, Mo. Country traditionalist John D. Hale is vying to overtake Godwin as Jackson’s biggest hometown hero. Too rugged for Nashville and less congenial than the output of most red dirt country groups from Texas and Oklahoma, Hale’s songs chronicle the hard-knock life on the wrong side of the tracks in rural America’s small towns. As Hale croons in a thick Southern drawl on one of his most popular songs, “desperate people do desperate things.” 816-483-1456. Tickets are $8 through knuckleheadskc.com.
Mike Dillon with Earl Harvin
10 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 5, at The Ship
Mike Dillon has partnered with a vast array of collaborators in his multifarious career. The accomplished vibraphonist and percussionist is teaming with the similarly versatile Earl Harvin on his current tour. Like Dillon — a one-time Kansas City resident with an international reputation as a mischievous firebrand — Harvin is celebrated for his eclecticism. As a drummer, he has recorded with John Legend, Damien Rice, Mary J. Blige and Sam Smith. 816-471-7447. Cover charge $5. Details at theshipkc.com.
8 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 6, at Riot Room
The Riot Room will be transformed into a blues-rock paradise on Sunday. Along with locally based stalwarts Brody Buster and Nick Schnebelen, Matthew Curry, a 23-year-old hotshot guitarist from Indiana, will showcase the latest developments in the ongoing evolution of the sound associated with Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Curry has been tabbed by aficionados of the blues-rock scene as one of the form’s most promising new stars. 816-442-8179. Tickets are $8 through theriotroom.com.
7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 6, at Aftershock
Worlds collide on Levels’ cataclysmic song “Guilt.” Amid grinding guitars, rapid-fire drumming and vocals that alternate between frantic screeching and Cookie Monster-style howls, an assertive rapper insists that “reality is not what it seems” on the cacophonous track by the Little Rock, Ark., band. The other selections on Level’s self-titled 2018 album are almost as electrifying. The group’s daring fusion of brutal metal and confrontational rap promise to provide deafening catharsis. 913-384-5646. Tickets are $13 through aftershockshows.com.
8 p.m. Monday, Jan. 7, at Riot Room
The synth-pop sound embraced by millions of transfixed fans in the mid-1980s was imbued with innocence. The Ivy, a synth-pop trio from Oklahoma, revives the tender agreeability of that era by replicating the bygone tone of hits such as Howard Jones’ “Things Can Only Get Better” and the Thompson Twins’ “Hold Me Now.” “Gold,” the Ivy’s gently propulsive breakout song, sounds as if it could have been the centerpiece of a sequel to the 1984 movie “Sixteen Candles.” With the Loyals. 816-442-8179. Tickets are $10 through theriotroom.com.
A La Mode
7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 9, at The Phoenix
The appealing stage presence of vocalist Jesica “Baby J” DeLong is one of several reasons A La Mode is one of the busiest bands in Kansas City. DeLong’s flapper-style persona, enchanting voice and wacky kazoo solos are refreshingly stylish. The masterful guitar work of her partner, Clayton DeLong, is in the sublime tradition of guitarist Django Reinhardt. Performed in a hot jazz style, the band’s repertoire of familiar standards such as “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” make A La Mode a popular purveyor of elegant party music. 816-221-5299. Details at thephoenixkc.com. Free.