Kansas City Events this July 2019
The Avett Brothers
The folk rock band that started as a duo has gotten bigger over the years, now featuring six members with a forthcoming 10th album and even a musical based off their work. Lively blue-eyed soul band Lake Street Dive opens, anchored by frontwoman Rachael Price’s powerful vocals. Providence Medical Center Amphitheater, 633 N. 130th St., Bonner Springs, Kan. 7 pm. $44.50-$89.50. providenceamp.com.
Commemorate America’s birthday along Berkley Riverfront at KC Riverfest. Word on the street is that Riverfest has the best Fourth of July fireworks in the metro (and maybe even the Midwest), so bring lawn chairs, blankets and plenty of bug spray. Berkley Riverfront, Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. 3 pm. $5. berkleyriverfront.com.
Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear
Missouri-bred mother and son Madisen and Ruth Ward continue to create emotionally intimate and modest folk music, whether their stage is a coffee shop or David Letterman’s studio. Their latest release, The Radio Winners, celebrates a fuller, more refined sound. The Granada, 1020 Massachusetts St., Lawrence, Kan. 6 pm. Free, VIP $60. thegranada.com.
The Head and the Heart
The Head and the Heart’s light, airy fourth record, Living Mirage, is tailor-made for summertime — it even features a piano-based love duet called “Honeybee.” There’s no venue more fitting for the folk-turned-pop band than a summer evening at Starlight. Starlight Theatre, 4600 Starlight Road, Kansas City, Mo. 8 pm. $35-$85. kcstarlight.com.
Now through July 7
Shakespeare in Love
William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is often described as the greatest love story of all time, but what might’ve happened in the bard’s own love life? This question is at the center of Shakespeare in Love, which is being staged at this year’s Heart of America Shakespeare Festival.
Shakespeare in Love is adapted from the 1998 Gwyneth Paltrow film of the same name, which won seven Oscars, including Best Picture. It was later adapted for stage by Billy Elliot screenwriter Lee Hall and made its West End debut in 2014. This production marks the first time that Heart of America, founded in 1993, is staging a play that’s not among Shakespeare’s originals. Artistic director Sidonie Garrett hopes that it’ll deepen appreciation for the Bard and “illuminate Shakespeare’s plays and help audiences find a different way of accessing them.”
Shakespeare in Love is a romance between a young “Will” Shakespeare and Viola, who disguises herself as a man to perform in his latest play. Little is known about the life of Shakespeare, so the work is historical fiction.
“It’s the greatest playwright of all time as a vulnerable lover, as a vulnerable writer,” Garrett says. “That alone puts you in a situation that’s high stakes. It’s everything you want a play to be. It has a lot of action, it’s romantic, it’s funny, it’s got Shakespeare, with little nuggets of truth.”
GO: Festival runs now through July 7, Tuesday to Saturday, with a Monday show on July 1. Southmoreland Park, 4600 Oak St., Kansas City, Mo. 8 pm. Free. kcshakes.org.
Every theatergoer needs to see Cats at least once. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s long-running Broadway musical is a choreo-focused show based on T.S. Eliot’s poetry collection, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. See the Broadway tour before the film adaptation hits theaters in December, starring Taylor Swift and Jennifer Hudson. Starlight Theatre, 4600 Starlight Road, Kansas City, Mo. 8 pm. $14-$145. kcstarlight.com.
“Smooth” is the No. 1 rock song in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Twenty years after the release of 15-time platinum Supernatural, Matchbox 20 singer Rob Thomas’ vocals are an internet joke, but there’s a serious reappraisal of Latin-jazz guitarist Carlos Santana’s large body of work. Sprint Center, 1407 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. 7 pm. $47-$173. sprintcenter.com.
Felipe Esparza’s road to stand-up comedy wasn’t easy. His journey from growing up in a gang-infested neighborhood to studying the craft of comedy independently to winning NBC’s Last Comic Standing was something of a fairy tale. He’s had a steady career ever since and is updating his 2017 identity-based HBO special Translate This with this year’s “The Bad Hambre” tour. Arvest Bank Theatre at The Midland, 1228 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 8 pm. $57-$82. arvestbanktheatre.com.
Nothing is sacred in Paris Crayton III’s Chasing Gods, a stage production following the Orlando nightclub shooting. The play is focused on a family reconciling its values with a controversial pastor. It runs at KU’s Kansas Repertory Theatre before transferring to Off-Broadway for NewYorkRep’s 2020-21 season. Crafton-Preyer Theatre, 15530 Naismith Drive, Lawrence, Kan. Showtimes vary. Prices vary. kutheatre.com.
KC Fringe Festival
The most welcoming and entertaining festival is back in Kansas City. Fringe Festival, which originated in Scotland, isn’t your typical street festival: Every performance is chosen on a first-come, first-serve basis. Acts include everything from Beatles cover bands to mind readers to films. Festival runs July 14–28. Times vary. Locations vary. $5. kcfringe.org.
Lindsey Jordan is mature beyond her years — the 20-year-old not only named her bedroom rock project after a near-outdated technology but also sings about teenage experience with a nuanced, adult perspective. Her youthful energy permeates her lyrics and energetic sound on Lush, her debut album. The Granada, 1020 Massachusetts St., Lawrence, Kan. 8 pm. $17-$19. thegranada.com.
Indie electronic-rock band Joywave has an impressive track record. The group has toured with The Killers, Brandon Flowers, The Kooks and Young the Giant. The lovable nerds who progressed from small shows at The Riot Room to sold-out shows at The Truman now headline a KC Live! block party. KC Live! 13 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. 6 pm. $15-$100. powerandlightdistrict.com/events.
The charts call him pop, but Shawn Mendes acts like a rock star, wielding his guitar as he sings lyrics about the girls after him, a slight growl in his voice when he hits big notes. The 20-year-old should have no trouble embarking on his first arena tour, a medium meant for rock stars. Soulful and honest R&B singer Alessia Cara opens. Sprint Center, 1407 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. 7:30 pm. $29.50-$89.50. sprintcenter.com.
Kansas City’s Big Picnic
This is usually the hottest day of the year in KC, with an average high of 90 degrees and low of 73. Lean into it with this event on the lawn of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, where you can picnic with hundreds of your closest friends. Pack your own basket, or grab a plate from a food truck. Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park, 4525 Oak St., Kansas City, Mo. 4 pm. Free. kcparks.org.
The defining characteristic of Khalid’s music is his syrupy smooth voice, which punctuates his coming-of-age anthems with alternating passion and disaffect. It’s what’s led him to collaborations with major stars like Billie Eilish and Shawn Mendes, not to mention his first arena tour at only 21. Sprint Center, 1407 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. 7:30 pm. $36.95-$76.95. sprintcenter.com.
Deep River by Karl Marlantes non-explicitly seeps into the story of three Finnish siblings who flee Russian fascism to make a new life in southern Washington. As wildfires affect their Finnish logging community, they turn to a new fight: labor rights. See Marlantes talk about his new novel. Kansas City Public Library–Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 6:30 pm. $30. rainydaybooks.com.
July 28–August 3
Johnson County Fair
Time to get your corn dog and fried oreo fix. The 80th anniversary of Johnson County’s fair, with the theme of “Back to Our Roots,” urges attendees to remember that Kansas’ biggest county wasn’t always neighborhoods and shopping centers. Gardner Fairgrounds, 136 E. Washington St., Gardner, Kan. Free. jocokansasfair.com.