After spending two months opening for Kings of Leon, L.A.'s Local Natives might be relieved to headline its own tour, which kicked off earlier this month. The five-piece specializes in a far more sensitive brand of indie rock, after all, with its three-part harmonies and gentle, washing melodies. Last year's Hummingbird was a generally pleasing assembly of those things: a soothing sophomore album meant to show the world the band's serious intentions. Go see for yourself Friday at the Granada.
Friday, April 25, the Granada (1020 Massachusetts, Lawrence, 785-842-1390)
Arcade Fire's Reflektor was one of the most highly anticipated albums of 2013. An epic, sprawling record — part dance pop, part indulgent art concept — it was instantly acclaimed as brilliant and adventurous while simultaneously demolished as unfocused and overachieving. I count three great songs on its latest effort (the title track is big and catchy and fits anywhere from your car stereo to a club playlist, and the Haitian beats are a nice touch), but I am among those who could do without the monstrous ambition to mean something deep. Not that any of that matters come Saturday, when Arcade Fire — determined to make the arena-rock experience a special one — encourages concertgoers to "dress up" and have fun.
Saturday, April 26, Starlight Theatre (4600 Starlight Road, Swope Park, 816-363-7827)
Say what you want about her, but Diana Ross deserves her status as a legend. She's a diva's diva, it's true, but that's really just one more reason to admire her. In March, the soul queen turned 70 — though you'd never know it with the way she struts, all decked out in feathers and glitter. And at this point in her career, Ross knows exactly what a crowd wants from her: the big hits, the sentimental ballads and the Supremes-era cuts that made her a household name. Onstage, Ross' joy is infectious, and every last person in her age-spanning audience feels it.
Sunday, April 27, the Midland (1228 Main, 816-283-9921)
The Hold Steady, Deer Tick
In some ways, I'm kind of surprised that the Hold Steady still draws crowds. A decade ago, the Minneapolis-by-way-of-Brooklyn band made waves when it blended punk rock and slivers of 1990s grunge on Boys and Girls in America. On that album, lead singer Craig Finn shouts and spits his lyrics like a steroid-abusing Springsteen, offering a straightforward alternative to other vogue bands at the time (including Arcade Fire). Hold Steady's latest release, last month's Teeth Dreams, has Finn doing more of what he's good at — gruff vocals and punchy lyrics — but somehow, the band seems less relevant. Longtime fans probably approve of this lack of evolution. For everyone else, Deer Tick — and lead singer John McCauley's irreverent wild side — should prove more than entertaining.
Monday, April 26, the Granada (1020 Massachusetts, Lawrence, 785-842-1390)
The Black Lips
This week's forecast is pretty heavy with bands that really, really want your approval. Arcade Fire tries so, so hard. Local Natives just wants to hold your hand while the sun comes up. The Hold Steady wants you to know it's mature. It's refreshing, then, that the Black Lips couldn't care less what you think of them. After all, the Atlanta band has a history of putting on live shows that involve more outrageous stunts than even Miley Cyrus has pulled — vomiting, peeing, the occasional make-out session. (OK, that last one sounds a little like Miley.) The Black Lips' latest album, Underneath the Rainbow, retains all the scuzzy, grimy, blues-tinged garage rock that first gave the band its edge, so we can only assume that the band is still into bodily fluids. Wear a raincoat.
Tuesday, April 30, the Riot Room (4048 Broadway, 816-442-8179)