Acts to Catch at Outer Reaches

Kansas City is lucky to have all the great festivals around the area. From Middle of The Map to Westport Roots Fest, from Porch Fest to Center of the City, there’s no shortage of great groupings of musicians, artists, and people. This Friday and Saturday, another great festival will be taking place. Outer Reaches (formerly KC Psych Fest) will unwind its tentacles, taking over the recordBar for two nights and 18 acts of incredible music and accompanying visuals. Featuring local and national acts, Outer Reaches will undoubtedly be the best way to bring in the fall. While each night is packed to the gills with talent, I want to highlight four acts I cannot wait to catch.

First is Open Fields. The Arkansas four piece makes dizzyingly layered soundscapes. Dusted with vintage distortion and electric hum, Open Fields has all the depth of Grizzly Bear and all the weird pop style of The Beatles’ later material. Whether the band is exploring a lush soundscape or belting out crisp and arresting harmonies, there’s no denying the band is able to create moments of pure beauty. Open Fields is able to take the expansive qualities of their recorded material and open them even more on stage. Progressing to bigger and bigger sounds, the band will put on a stage show not to miss.

After Open Fields, L.A. WITCH will take the stage. The LA trio hides fire within their chunky riffs and grimy vocals. Part sludge punk, part heavy pop, part paranoid psych rock, L.A. Witch knows how to maximize every bit of tension from their guitar forward sound. Their condensed and distorted riffs sound best when played at high volume–which the recordBar will be sure to take care of. Simultaneously driving like Black Angels and all enveloping like Expo 70, L.A. Witch is giving the psych world the best of both sides of its sonic continuum. Slow burning yet full of stored energy, the trio will definitely end the first night well.

Starting the second night of Outer Reaches will be Emmaline Twist. The Kansas City band flits between folk-pop (think Okkervil River, Nico Case) and heavy atmospherics (think Chelsea Wolfe, Helen Money) for a sound that transcends both. Taking the stage, the quartet burns through their songs with a presence that is as powerful as it is vulnerable. Whether Emmaline Twist is moving through a slow jam or rocking through quick riffs, the band structures their songs with subtle shifts and surprises, keeping things fresh as their music unfurls. If you haven’t seen or heard this band play live, this Saturday will be the perfect time to change that.


Magic Sword has been an obsession of mine since their 2015 debut, Vol. 1. The duo’s dark synthwave is as dance-inducing as any Daft Punk track and as ominous as any John Carpenter score. Adding to their stunning music, that Magic Sword has an overarching concept to their music, their stage shows, and their album designs could seduce even the most stalwart opponent of conceptual work in music. Perhaps, this is due to the band’s music being the forefront of their aesthetic. Constantly taut and driving, Magic Sword’s songs make make even the most mundane task feel otherworldly. Combine this with a stage show that knocks the socks off anything you’ve seen this side of Burning Man, and you have a recipe for a great set.

While every act on the show bill will put on an amazing time, I’m most excited to these four bands play this year’s Outer Reaches. Whether it’s L.A. Witch’s psych heaviness, Open Fields’ lush soundscapes, Emmaline Twist’s distorted pop, or Magic Sword’s driving electronica, Outer Reaches will deliver a two day fest to bring in Autumn right.

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