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Top Shows: Godemis, Antennas Up, Golden Republic and more

Godemis of Ces Cru performs solo.


Sam Billen


Dave Stephens Band's manic jazz routine is perfect for New Year's Eve.

Murder By Death band - L-R Matt Armstrong, Scott Brackett, Adam Turla, Sarah Balliet, Dagan Thogerson.



Friday (December 28) RecordBar

Kyle James, the son of Kansas City mayor Sly James, has achieved notoriety for all the wrong reasons. He seems to have a knack for finding himself on the wrong side of the law. James would much rather be known for his burgeoning career as half of the hip-hop duo C.O.A. Friday’s show provides an opportunity to hear how James stacks up against two of the area’s top hip-hop acts. Godemis, half of the accomplished Ces Cru, is Friday’s headliner. The prolific Steddy P. has been making vital sounds for years. Tef Poe and Adrian Truth open the show.

Tickets to the 10 p.m. show are $7 in advance.

Bill Brownlee, Special to Ink

Antennas Up

Saturday (December 29) RecordBar

“The Awkward Phase,” Antennas Up’s vibrant new album, is loaded with sterling songs that are just as bubbly as Taylor Swift’s pop anthems and every bit as peppy as Green Day’s hits. The ambitious band, which graced the cover of Ink early this month, is clearly set to pop. Saturday’s show could serve as Antennas Up’s launching pad for a extraordinarily successful 2013. Two fellow Kansas City acts open the show. Not a Planet is a hard-charging rock trio. In Back of a Black Car revives the slinky sound of 1980s rockers INXS and Simple Minds.

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

Bill Brownlee, Special to Ink

Golden Republic

Monday (December 31) RecordBar

For a glorious but fleeting moment about seven years ago, it seemed as if the Golden Republic was about to hit the big time. Yet the sleek indie rock issued on a nationally-distributed EP and album failed to resonate with the public. The band subsequently dissolved. Former members are now integral parts of Kansas City bands the Republic Tigers and Soft Reeds. The New Year’s Eve reunion offers the band and its devoted fans an opportunity to relive their glory days. Thee Water Moccasins, an elite quartet of Kansas City’s most accomplished indie rockers, open the show.

Tickets to the 10 p.m. show are $12 in advance.

Bill Brownlee, Special to Ink

Murder By Death

Monday (December 31) The Granada

Murder By Death’s sinister sensibility may not seem like an ideal match for the jubilant tone typically associated with New Year’s Eve. Yet, given the troubled tenor of the times, the bleak perspective of the Indiana-based band may provide a perfect soundtrack by which to give 2012 a fitting sendoff. On “I Came Around,” a typically Goth-tinged rocker from Murder By Death’s new “Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon” album, the narrator learns to appreciate a longtime antagonist during the man’s wake. Revelers at the Granada will likely have similarly mixed feelings about 2012. Two Lawrence-based acts — the excellent Cowboy Indian Bear and Y(our) Fri(end) — open the show.

Tickets to the 10 p.m. show are $12 in advance and $15 on the day of the show.

Bill Brownlee, Special to Ink

Sam Billen

Thursday (December 27) Replay Lounge

If the sound associated with Paul McCartney and vintage Cheap Trick wasn’t out of favor with mainstream pop fans, the area musicians featured in Thursday’s bill at the Replay Lounge might be stars. Each of the four acts specializes in a variation of meticulously crafted melodic pop that’s designed to tickle the ears. Headliner Sam Billen operates at the serene side of the pop spectrum. The peppier ACBs create intelligent songs that evoke AM radio hits of the 1970s. Jordan Geiger of Hospital Ships offers hummable art songs. The promising new band the Shy Boys are in the process of honing a comparable sound.

The cover charge is $3.

Bill Brownlee, Special to Ink

Dave Stephens

Monday (December 31) Kill Devil Club

Dave Stephens’ steadfast commitment to entertaining audiences has made him a staple of Kansas City holiday celebrations. His lounge-jazz schtick — reminiscent of the outlandish antics of Rat Pack members Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. — make him a proven companion for New Year’s Eve revelry. Stephens balances his penchant for visual gags and amusing stunts with top-flight supporting bands that are typically loaded with an assortment of Kansas City’s preeminent jazz musicians.

Tickets are $225 per couple or $125 per individual. The price includes food and drink.

Bill Brownlee, Special to Ink


Saturday (December 29) The Bottleneck

Orgone stunned an unsuspecting audience with a set of burly funk when the band opened for the Dirty Dozen Brass Band at Crossroads KC last May. Although it’s relatively unheralded, the Los Angeles-based soul review is one of today’s premier live acts. Frontwoman Niki J Crawford possesses the voice and stage presence of a youthful Tina Turner. A cultivated throwback act, Orgone appeals to old-school fans of Otis Redding and James Brown, as well as a younger generation introduced to the sound by Amy Winehouse and Sharon Jones.

Tickets to the 9 p.m. show are $9 in advance and $10 on the day of the show.

Bill Brownlee, Special to Ink

The Rainmakers

Monday (December 31) Knuckleheads

Not every band ages gracefully. Some acts embarrass themselves with dated music and off-putting behavior. The Rainmakers, however, manage to carry on with dignity. The Kansas City band’s hits, such as “Downstream” and “Let My People Go-Go,” sound just as relevant as they did in the 1980s. The Rainmakers’ roots-rock possesses a timeless appeal. These qualities make Knuckleheads one of the most desirable New Years Eve destinations for party-minded rock fans. A performance by the Bel Airs, proficient barroom rockers from Columbia, Mo., precedes the Rainmakers. Watermelon Slim, a folksy bluesman, kicks off the festivities.

Tickets to the 8 p.m. show are $47.50 in advance.

Bill Brownlee, Special to Ink

The Chi-Lights and Bloodstone

Saturday (December 29) The Midland

“Natural High,” issued 40 years ago by Bloodstone, may be the most vibrant hit to emerge from Kansas City in the post-jazz era. The soundtrack for Quentin Tarantino’s 1997 film Jackie Brown introduced the stone-cold classic to a new generation. “Natural High” is the only universally recognized hit racked up by the Kansas City funk and soul veterans. The Chi-Lights scored two hits that also helped to define the early 1970s. “Have You Seen Her” and “Oh Girl,” the Chicago-based ensemble’s definitive jams, are among the most lush and romantic songs in the soul music canon. Kharizma open Saturday’s nostalgic show.

Tickets to the 8 p.m. show are $42.50 in advance.

Bill Brownlee, Special to Ink

Mannheim Steamroller

Thursday-Friday (December 27-28) Music Hall

Chip Davis, the mastermind behind Mannheim Steamroller, would be forgiven for being furious about the success of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Decades before the Trans-Siberian Orchestra began filling arenas by amplifying Davis’ innovations, Mannheim Steamroller was dazzling audiences with a bold new approach to Christmas music. The futuristic but comforting soundtrack to the season has only recently been outpaced by TSO. The shift in popularity shouldn’t diminish the heartwarming experience offered by Mannheim Steamroller at the Music Hall on Thursday and Friday.

Tickets range from $50 to $90 in advance.

Bill Brownlee, Special to Ink


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