Middle of The Map: Saturday

There’s nothing like opening day jitters. Today is the first day of the music portion of Middle of The Map. Moving from now until the 7th, Middle of The Map will have over 100 bands playing all over the city. I’ve written about some of them: here, here, here, here, and here. Now, on the first day, I want to write about three acts that will play the final day of the festival: Charles Bradley, STRFKR, and Heartfelt Anarchy.

For those of you who haven’t heard Charles Bradley, let me introduce the man who may single-handedly revive soul-funk. The singer’s ability to convey such a range of emotion through his rasping melodies is unequaled. If James Brown was the hardest-working man in show biz, then Charles Bradley is the deepest-feeling man in music. Belting out lyrics over His Extraordinaires funk rooted soul, Bradley can turn even the simplest phrase into a lover’s plea, a tortured howl, or an indictment. He can even put some soul into the original demons of rock, Black Sabbath. And this video is as hypnotizing as it is emotive.

STRFKR (or starfucker, PPRRYYMMIIDS, or any of their monikers) makes some brilliant indie pop. Part post-modern electronica, part sad-pop masterpiece, part EDM gone saccharine, STRFKR can do no wrong in my book. The Portland group definitely has a sound a structure from which they rarely deviate, but this consistency makes them a monolithic force in the ever-changing scene of pseudo-underground pop. But enough about their recorded music. STRFKR puts on some of the most fun shows (second only to Dan Deacon) I’ve attended. A mix of music, lights, and dresses, STRFKR knows how to start the most melancholy dance party.

Keeping with an explosive live show, Heartfelt Anarchy (the collaboration between Conductor Williams and Les Izmore) puts on a show that can win over even the coldest audience member. Splitting the difference between the grimy heaviness of Clipping or Vince Staples and the charismatic delivery of Busta Rhymes or Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Heartfelt Anarchy is perfect for fans of dancing or raging. The duo’s ability to create and recreate lush beats and intricate flows on stage is arresting. Definitely an act to catch at Middle of The Map, Heartfelt Anarchy is proving there’s more to Kansas City’s hip hop scene than Strange Music.

These bands and more will close Middle of The Map 2016 with verve. The four day music festival is full of the best local and national acts. Running the gamut between blues and rap, pop and psychedelia, rock and electronica, there will be at least one show for everyone no matter their tastes. The festival starts this evening at 6pm at Mills Record Company.

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