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Top Shows: Die Antwoord, Balmorhea, Vijay Iyer and more

Nappy Roots

Chester "Lyfe" Jennings

Vijay Iyer, 41, is an outspoken pianist with a revolutionary approach.


El Rey de la Ranchera, Vicente "Chente" Fernández

Grammy Award Winner and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Dr. John.

Die Antwoord

Shemekia Copeland_




Die Antwoord

9 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 17 Liberty Hall

Balancing high-concept performance art with lowbrow entertainment is a tricky business. The South African hip-hop crew Die Antwoord is simultaneously arty and profane and has conducted a delicate dance in its five-year career. Songs with titles like “Hey Sexy” feature an avant-garde edge even as squeaky-voiced Yolandi Visser and impulsive rapper Ninja employ imagery capable of making Nicki Minaj blush. The tandem confronts South Africa’s history of racial injustice with correspondingly crude attitudes. Die Antwoord’s fancifully vulgar live presentation is highly recommended to indulgent thrill-seekers.

Tickets to the 9 p.m. concert are $25.50 in advance and $28.50 on the day of show.

bill brownlee, special to ink

Vijay Iyer

8 p.m. Friday Folly Theater

Vijay Iyer is one of the boldest bookings in the storied history of the Folly Theater’s jazz series. Iyer, 41, is neither reverent nor traditional — he’s an outspoken pianist with a revolutionary approach. He’ll be joined by bassist Stephen Crump and drummer Marcus Gilmore, performing the innovative music that allowed him to dominate Downbeat magazine’s most recent annual poll. He claimed five of the esteemed publication’s top prizes, including artist of the year, album of the year and best pianist. Friday’s concert will provide rewards for adventurous listeners.

Tickets to the 8 p.m. show range from $18 to $35.

bill brownlee, special to ink


10 p.m. Friday RecordBar

During the commercial apex of new age music, acts with names like Shadowfax and Nightnoise combined classical, jazz and rock elements into a sound designed to soothe and uplift listeners. Thirty years later, Austin’s Balmorhea is bewitching indie rockers with similarly discreet music. The band’s mild bursts of feedback and occasionally cathartic climaxes allow it to be characterized as ambient music or post-rock, but Balmorhea’s serene approach is capable of pleasing the most dedicated New Age fan. David Williams, the Kansas City-based guitarist behind the similarly exquisite Sounding the Deep, opens the show.

Tickets to the 10 p.m. show are $8 in advance.

bill brownlee, special to ink

Nappy Roots with Houston Zizza

8 p.m. Monday Riot Room

“Watermelon, Chicken & Gritz,” the provocative title of Nappy Roots’ acclaimed 2002 album, reflects the Southern hip-hop crew’s audaciously confrontational sensibility. Proudly out of step with the hip-hop mainstream, the members of Nappy Roots rap about their rural roots and taking satisfaction in simple pleasures on refreshingly earthy material like “Po’ Folks” and “Roun’ the Globe.” At their best, Nappy Roots evoke a less materialistic and overall-clad version of Outkast. Kansas City-based hip-hop act Houston Zizza opens Monday’s show.

Tickets to the 8 p.m. show are $12 in advance.

bill brownlee, special to ink


5:20 p.m. Saturday Beaumont Club

Hammerween is the heavy metal equivalent of a haunted house. Just as the scary attractions in Kansas City’s West Bottoms induce thrills and chills every October, the similarly creepy event at the Beaumont Club is well on its way to becoming a seasonal ritual. The third annual blowout features several hours of horrifyingly brutal music. Hammerlord, the evening’s reliably merciless headliner, is the region’s most popular thrash band. Troglodyte, At the Left Hand of God, Tennessee Murder Club, Enemies Laid to Rest, In the Shadow, David Hasselhoff On Acid and High Rise Robots round out the bloodcurdling assault.

Tickets to the 5:20 p.m. show are $10 in advance.

bill brownlee, special to ink


7:30 p.m. Saturday The Granada

The United States military has allegedly employed extreme music in the belief that the violent noise is capable of breaking the spirit of its captives. Yet hundreds of fans will gladly subject themselves to the sound in Lawrence on Saturday. The Granada’s five-band bill includes several of the world’s most revered punk-metal acts. Headliners Converge are Massachusetts-based veterans of the hardcore scene. Miami’s Torche and Norway’s Kvelertak are just as loud but slightly less abrasive. Coalesce, a hardcore band formed in Kansas City in the mid-’90s, and Mansion, a self-described “doom pop” band from Lawrence, complete the excruciatingly savage bill.

Tickets to the 7:30 p.m. show are $15 in advance and $17 on the day of the show.

bill brownlee, special to ink

Shemekia Copeland

8 p.m. Friday Knuckleheads Saloon

The blues are an inherently conservative genre continually dominated by male guitar slingers. Three of the world’s most compelling blues artists will appear Friday at Knuckleheads. And they just happen to be women. Vocalist Shemekia Copeland, 33, is likely to eventually claim the late Koko Taylor’s title as the queen of the blues. Marcia Ball’s rollicking piano-based version of the blues has been entertaining party-minded listeners for decades. The searing guitar work and emotive vocals of Samantha Fish have made her one of the most exciting Kansas City-based musicians working in any genre.

Tickets to the 8 p.m. show are $26 in advance.

bill brownlee, special to ink

Joe and Lyfe Jennings

8 p.m. Sunday Midland Theater

The legacies of old-school rthymn and blues crooners Gerald Levert and Luther Vandross are being perpetuated by Joe and Lyfe Jennings. While Joe and Jennings freely incorporate hip-hop into their approaches, both men respect the core values of their soulful tradition. A collaboration with Big Pun on the hit “Still Not a Player” and his sweltering work on the smooth ballad “I Wanna Know” made Joe a star. Jennings’ raspy voice is featured on Three 6 Mafia’s “Hood Star” and Rick Ross’ “It’s My Time.” His gritty original material like “Statistics” and “Never Never Land” is even more memorable. Vocalist Jackie Michaels, a familiar presence at area R&B concerts, opens the show.

Tickets to the 8 p.m. concert range from $35 to $65. bill brownlee, special to ink

Dr. John and the Blind Boys of Alabama

7 p.m. Sunday Yardley Hall

Two influential concerts at Carnegie Hall titled From Spirituals to Swing improved the public’s perception of jazz, blues and gospel in the 1930s. A new tour featuring American music icons Dr. John and the Blind Boys of Alabama bears the intriguing title “Spirituals to Funk.” Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Dr. John and five-time Grammy Award winners the Blind Boys of Alabama don’t suffer from a lack of respect, and both acts merit every bit of their sterling reputations. Dr. John, a pre-eminent ambassador of Louisiana music, recently released one of the most vital albums of his remarkable career. The Blind Boys of Alabama, a gospel institution for decades, are also on an artistic roll.

Tickets to the 7 p.m. show in Yardley Hall in the Carlsen Center at Johnson County Community College range from $37 to $80.

bill brownlee, special to ink

Vicente Fernandez

8 p.m. Friday Sprint Center

The phrase “big hat, no cattle” doesn’t apply to Vicente Fernandez. While the 72-year-old King of Ranchera is known for wearing impossibly big hats, his correspondingly sprawling career justifies the audacious fashion accessory. The native of Mexico specializes in robust songs of romance and fervent tributes to his homeland. He’s a veteran of more than two dozen films and doesn’t hesitate to ham it up. He sobs on his hit “Por tu Maldito Amor” and laments his broken heart on his classic song “Aca Entre Nos.” The innate drama of Fernandez’s repertoire promises to make Friday’s concert one of the year’s most joyously entertaining events.

Tickets to the 8 p.m. concert range from $39 to $150.

bill brownlee, special to ink


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