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The Best of 2012: Highlights from the year in local music, from the movers and shakers who made it happen

A look back at the last year in local music.



As of press time, the world had not ended. But 2012 is not yet over. Can any of us say with any degree of certainty that a comet will not crash into Earth on New Year's Eve and destroy Ryan Seacrest's Times Square New Year's Eve countdown — oh, the humanity! — and life on this planet along with it? We cannot. Nothing is certain. Do you hear me? There is no certainty in this life! We know nothing! Do you understand what that means? Do you? Do you?

So in addition to stockpiling basic necessities — bottled water, Toaster Strudels, the 2011 ensemble romantic comedy New Year's Eve — I've spent the last week stockpiling memories. Specifically, memories of the past year in local music: the shows, albums and songs that made 2012 a year worth living for music fans in the Kansas City area.

More specifically, these are not my memories but the memories of the folks around town who make our music scene tick. (Special thanks to Pitch contributors Berry Anderson, April Fleming and Leslie Kinsman for helping me gather them.) What will our local musicians, venue owners, label types and promoters remember about 2012? Read on. And see you in 2013 (probably).

Mike Alexander (Hipshot Killer, John Velghe and the Prodigal Sons, Starhaven Rounders)

Best show: Swans at the Beaumont Club, September 19. "I showed up a few minutes into their first song, which was just chimes and vocals at first, and I'm thinking, 'This isn't going to be that loud.' Man, was I wrong. When the entire band kicked in, my jacket actually filled with air being moved by the PA. I felt like I was being knocked over by the music. And then they kept that up for two hours. Also, seeing Tiny Horse finally, after many failed attempts on my part, at the Sandbox at Vinyl Renaissance on 39th Street."

DJ Sheppa (Body2Body, Beauty Magic)

Best show: Big Freedia at the Riot Room, July 22. "From start to finish, Big Freedia — the queen diva of New Orleans bounce — had the crowd eating out of her hands. I've never seen the Riot Room so packed with sweaty bodies jumping around like crazy."

Runner-up: Lemonade, with Le1f (with Sheppa and Norrit) at FOKL, June 9. "There were amazing atmospheric projections over a haze of fog at the Lemonade/Le1f show. I walked away wanting more. I also was glad that I got to experience it in a venue that does so much to help foster and give a platform for local creative talent."

Sean Hunt, aka Approach, Lawrence rapper

"I saw some pretty impressive things this year musically, but one thing that stuck with me was seeing Radkey at the Lawrence Field Day Fest. They have a fan for life.

"Also, the Kansas City beat scene is about to explode. I was living out in California for four years, and I got to witness firsthand the rise of producer-focused club nights such as Low End Theory (Daddy Kev, Flying Lotus, Dibia$e, Samiyam, etc.) and Funkmosphere (Dam-Funk) in L.A. It's nice to come back home and see showcases like Sucka Free and Elegant Knock give underrated production masters from the KC-Lawrence area — Lenny D, DRPLUS2, Dan Matic, Osiris-1, Barbaric Merits, Morri$, Starjammr — a place to showcase their skills."

Sheri Parr, owner, the Brick

"The first show I booked for 2012 was with the amazing cellist Helen Gillet, from New Orleans. Other New Orleans bands followed over the year — Mike Dillon, Yojimbo and Vagabond Swing — and all put on fabulous shows.

"And Golden Sounds Records! I love them. My favorite event of theirs was in April for Record Store Day [with Spirit Is the Spirit, La Guerre, Fullbloods and Soft Reeds]. Also, seeing Mr. Marco's V7 play a polka version of Billy Idol's 'White Wedding' made me so happy."

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