This weekend’s music calendar is light on national and regional touring bands, but the good news: It’s loaded with opportunities to see some of the best local bands in Kansas City for free or less than $10.
So that you can adjust your attendance to suit your music tastes, here’s a look at bands performing at the Plaza Art Fair and the lowdown on Sunday’s CD release party.
- Not a Planet, 7 p.m. Friday: Says its Facebook page: “Similar to bands such as Delta Spirit, Spoon … the Killers, Dr. Dog, Young the Giant.” It’s a blend of sounds drawn from the world of pop and rock from a few genres and eras with some canny twists and turns.
- Beautiful Bodies: 8 p.m. Friday and 10 p.m. after-party at O’Dowd’s on the Plaza: Their bracing blend of punk, hard rock and indie/alternative rock has earned the Bodies a spot on the Warped Tour and an opening gig with Goldfinger. Lead vocalist Alicia Solombrino is the visual focal point, but the rest of the band raises a ruckus that is equally commanding.
- The Empty Spaces, noon Saturday: Guitar/bass/drum trio plays raw, hard rock ’n’ roll that is melodic, funky and slightly deranged.
- Fullbloods, 1 p.m. Saturday: A three-song player at fullbloods.com exhibits the diverse and high-energy sounds issued by this quartet of sound engineers. Rock is the foundation, but plenty of other accents are added: pop, country, surf … and on. You might like them if you like bands like Grouplove, Jellyfish and Toy Matinee.
- Sons of Great Dane, 5 p.m. Saturday: Their winning sound arises at the confluence of several influences. It’s rock at its base but accented with elements of jangly pop and alternative country, all delivered with authority by a quartet of seasoned musicians. Think of the Connells or an Americana version of the Lemonheads.
- Victor & Penny, 5 p.m. Friday: Jeff Freling and Erin McGrane perform engaging “antique pop” songs — ukulele/guitar duets that sound of another era.
- Hidden Pictures, 11 a.m. Saturday: A blend of classic FM pop and indie-pop that is immediately appealing: lots of engaging hooks, sweet melodies and warm harmonies rendered in guitars and keyboards with a sprinkling of glockenspiel and flute.
- Kristen May, 6:30 p.m. Saturday: The former lead singer of Veda/Vedera has headed out on a solo odyssey. The bright, hard and catchy single “Sadman” sounds made for Top 40 and like she could easily attract fans of songwriters like Natasha Bedingfield and Brandi Carlile.
- Sara Swenson, 1:30 p.m. Sunday: She’s not really pop, but neither is she folk or country or rock. Swenson is an accomplished songwriter who, in 2010, put out “All Things Big and Small,” an arresting mix of strong songcraft and impeccable production. Its sounds blend folk and pop and tinges of country.
- The Canes, 3:45 p.m. Sunday: The Chicago-based Canes are the festival’s one out-of-town band. Their music is pop, along the lines of the Fray or One Republic or a touch of Coldplay: groovy and melodic, except when they veer into balladry.
- The John McKenna Band, 10 a.m. Saturday: Folk, soul and country songs burnished with soulful keyboards and lap and pedal steel guitar from a songwriter who can craft some handsome melodies and can sound like David Gray or Ryan Adams or something in between.
- Blackbird Revue, 2 p.m. Saturday: A celestial mix of country, folk and modern bluegrass. Highly recommended for fans of Alison Krauss and Over the Rhine, thanks to the lovely vocals of Danielle Prestidge.
- The Grisly Hand, 3 p.m. Saturday: One of the better live bands in the city featuring one of the better lead vocalists, Lauren Krum. A six-piece — guitars, bass, percussion, steel guitar and mandolin — that mixes insurgent country, rock and soul, like some classic Bloodshot Records bands.
- Quiet Corral, 9 p.m. Saturday: They are compared to bands that play manic folk and folk-rock, like the Lumineers, and rightfully so. It’s the perfect blend of melody, harmonies, tight songcraft and earnest energy. Irresistible at times.
- David Burchfield and the Great Stop, 11:30 a.m. Sunday: Old-time/Appalachian-style folk, rendered with refinement in guitars, fiddle, banjo and warm, resonant vocals with harmonies.
- The Natural State, 12:30 p.m. Sunday: Ethereal folk, like a cosmic mix of the Sundays and the Roche Sisters. The melodies are delicate and pretty. The harmonies are supernal.
- She’s a Keeper, 2:30 p.m. Sunday: Like Quiet Corral, this five-piece is compared to folk/roots ensembles like Fleet Foxes, Mumford and Sons and the Lumineers. And they’ve earned it, too. Their songwriting is strong, their arrangements are organic (guitars, mandolin, cello, drums), their harmonies are warm and clean, and their live shows crackle with energy.
- Cadillac Flambe, 4 p.m. Saturday, midnight Friday/Saturday after-party at Fred P. Ott’s: Gritty and grimy mix of blues rock, Delta blues and country soul. It’s all visceral and invigorating.
- Diverse, 6 p.m. Friday, midnight Saturday/Sunday after-party at Fred. P. Ott’s: A trumpet/bass/drum trio featuring Hermon Mehari, Ben Leifer and Ryan Lee. Influences, from its Facebook page: “Michael Jackson, John Coltrane, Common, Bobby Watson, A Tribe Called Quest, Logan Richardson, Mos Def, D’Angelo.”
- The New Riddim, 9 p.m. Friday: Seven-piece ska/reggae/soul band with a three-piece horn section plays music influenced by the Slackers, the Skatalites, the Specials and Hepcat.
- Making Movies, 7:45 p.m. Saturday, 10 p.m. after-party at O’Dowd’s on the Plaza: The band is about to release a record produced by Steve Berlin of Los Lobos, who is so enamored with the band’s live show and its percussive mix of rock, rock en espanol and Afro-Cuban music that Making Movies has opened twice for Los Lobos at Knuckleheads, joining them onstage each time.
The music moves to the RecordBar, 1020 Westport Road, on Sunday night, where five acts will perform starting at 7 p.m. The lineup, from start to finish: Gemini Revolution (“indie/soundtrack/psychedelic” groove music, says the Facebook page), Reach with Diverse (hip-hop and jazz), the Grand Marquis (swing, jump-blues), Antennas Up (electro-pop) and Everyday/Everynight (ambient indie-rock). The show also celebrates the release of “Midwestern Audio, Vol. 1,” a double-CD compilation comprising 41 tracks by 41 local bands. Admission to Sunday’s 18-and-older after-party is $10, which includes a copy of “Midwestern Audio.”
THE MAIN STAGE
Broadway and Ward Parkway
This stage features a variety of bands performing covers, originals or both.
- 5-6:30 p.m.: Patrick Lentz (covers and originals)
- 6:45-8:15 p.m.: The Shanks (multi-decade cover band)
- 8:30-10 p.m.: The Zeros (’80s covers)
- 10-10:45 a.m.: Rockin’ Rob (children’s music)
- 11 a.m.-12:45 p.m.: Last Chance Flight (originals in classic-rock style)
- 1-2:45 p.m.: Brandon Miller Band (original rock-blues)
- 3-4:30 p.m.: Red Guitar (original rock, in the vein of Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young)
- 4:45-6:30 p.m.: Lip Riddle (multi-decade cover band)
- 6:45-8:15 p.m.: Rattle and Hum (U2 tribute)
- 8:30-10 p.m.: Sellout (’70s and ’80s disco and pop covers)
- 11 a.m.-noon: Shades of Jade (jazz/soul)
- 12:15-1:45 p.m.: Menage of Twang (country/bluegrass)
- 2-3:15 p.m.: Kim Osborne Band (rock/blues/R&B)
- 3:30-5 p.m.: The Magnetics (alternative-rock, -pop, -folk covers)
THE PLAZA UNPLUGGED STAGE
Nichols Road and Central Avenue
If you’re in the mood for something acoustic and mellow, the Unplugged Stage features singer/songwriters and acoustic ensembles.
- 5-6:30 p.m.: Heather Thornton
- 6:45-8:15 p.m.: The Radio Flyers
- 8:30-10 p.m.: Lyal Strickland
- 10 a.m.-4:45 p.m. Project Dance presented by the Culture House
- 5-6:30 p.m.: Bret Bourquin
- 6:45-8:15 p.m.: Colby and Mole Unplugged
- 8:30-10 p.m.: John Joiner Band
- 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m.: A La Mode
- 12:30-1:45 p.m.: Sean McNown
- 2-3:15 p.m.: Troy Ganson
- 3:30 to 5 p.m.: Terry Wright