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Crossroads Flock Party and Center of the City Fest Celebrate 5 Years

While there have always been talented acts scattered across venues, basements and garages all over Kansas City, there hasn’t always been a proper way to uplift all of them. Somewhere between five and 10 years ago, more local artists and supporters began forming festivals, record labels and collectives that featured more local talent.

“Our most valuable lesson has been to let this be a bullhorn for the truly resonant,” said Jerad Tomasino, co-organizer of Crossroads Flock Party. The summer kickoff concert — billed previously as The Crossroads Summer Block Party — is entering its fifth year and continues its mission of presenting local and regional music to a broader arts community. This free First Friday event features performances from eight musical artists, plus plenty of food and drink options, live art printing, a pop-up art installation, a skateboarding demonstration, a performance from Quixotic and a neighborhood maker’s market.

Since starting in 2012, Tomasino and his co-organizers, Evan Ashby and Ross Brown, have crafted the music lineup with artists who inspire them from varying styles and scenes. “Each one has a story,” noted Tomasino. “Sometimes it’s a stellar performance, sometimes a brilliant lyric that catches our attention. Our lineup is less a concentration of style and more [and more] an expanding definition of our local and regional music. Our lineup inspires us, and that inspiration is what we try to amplify with this event.”

This year’s Flock Party lineup runs the gamut from the “soulcially conscious” hip-hop of Duncan Burnett and his backing band, The Outer Circle (Eddie Moore’s extraordinary jazz quartet); to The Conquerors’ swirls of catchy pop and ’60s psychedelia; to the dreamy post-punk of Omaha’s See Through Dresses; and many more. For a full lineup, click here. Crossroads Flock Party starts at 5 p.m. on Friday at the intersection of 19th and Wyandotte streets. 

Center of the City V lineup

Center of the City Fest also will be celebrating its fifth year this weekend. In previous years, it’s been billed as KC’s biggest punk/hardcore event, embracing the DIY ethos of the punk scene. This year, the organizers continue to serve these independent artists, but they’ve widened the playing field.

“We all collectively thought we needed to expand the adopted boundaries of the punk/hardcore/metal genres we’d been in for the past four years and really make an effort to have the fest be even crazier than in years past,” co-organizer Mike Alexander said.

This year, 48 acts will perform back to back on both stages at Davey’s Uptown on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Many of the bands that have performed in previous years will again take the stage, including The Rackatees, Red Kate and Alexander’s band Hipshot Killer. But COTC also has diversified its heavy-hitting arsenal, bringing in surf rock, ska, hip-hop and even acoustic acts. “We’re really looking forward to having more diversity at the fest that has been sort of lacking in years past,” Alexander said. “My personal hope is that it keeps getting broader as the events go into the future.”

Here are a few must-see acts at COTC:

To put it simply, an Ebony Tusks’ show is a sacred experience, amplified by the urgency that Marty Hillard brings to the stage through his exigent, savvy lyrics and sharp vocal phrasings.

William Malott: If you’re a fan of Bent Left’s driving political punk, catch their bassist and songwriter perform stripped-down, acoustic versions of the music.

Sundiver’s deep-cutting guitar riffs and heavy rhythmic patterns grab listeners, but their dense soundscapes will keep audiences hooked.

The Abominable Showmen: This Columbia, Missouri, act blends instrumental surf rock with sinful metal riffs that are certain to get a crowd on its feet.

Check out this week's Eight One Sixty podcast with music from artists playing and interviews with organizers of Crossroads Flock Party and Center of the City Fest at this link!

— Michelle Bacon is a musician and writer dedicated to the Kansas City music community. She advocates for and helps spotlight music in the area, writes web content for 90.9 The Bridge and plays with The Philistines and Chris Meck & the Guilty Birds. Her grandma is 102 years old and by far the coolest person she knows.