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Shuttlecock Music Magazine: Elevating the Underground

He only recently turned 21, but there’s a good chance that Aaron Rhodes knows more about #kcmusic than you do.

“I started going to concerts when I was 13, asking my mom or dad to take me to see bands like The Offspring, Green Day and Blink 182,” he said. “My dad played a big role in my love of music. During middle school, I got really into playing his Clash records on the turntable in my basement.”

A little later, a friend’s older brother took Rhodes to his first DIY punk show – which just happens to be in the house he now lives in. Throughout high school, he worked on the school’s newspaper, keeping an eye on a future in music journalism. At the age of 18, Rhodes launched his own music website, Shuttlecock Music Magazine.

“I figured I could go to concerts over the summer and write reviews to boost my portfolio,” he said. “Eventually, people outside of my friends and family started reading my content and gave me encouragement, so I kept it going.”

Now, with its three-year anniversary coming up in June, Shuttlecock has become an influential voice for the area’s underground acts. Since launching, Rhodes has released two physical photo zines under the Shuttlecock brand, expanded into a weekly podcast and regularly hosts showcases from local and touring acts.

While his interviews and reviews sometimes span notable acts from The Melvins to SZA, Rhodes also works tirelessly to represent KC’s local artists. He said he had little knowledge of the local music scene before starting Shuttlecock, but now routinely spends hours combing social media, Bandcamp, Soundcloud and YouTube for new artists. It's also not uncommon to see him at venues on any given night, ranging from the city’s notable spots to the DIY punk houses.

“Three to four times a week, I’ll be at a show,” he said. “Otherwise, I'm probably on the internet searching for local music, listening to releases I've heard about or doing research for an upcoming interview. In KC, there are people making almost every type of music I like – cool street rap, jazz, punk, etc. You could make an awesome playlist of strictly local music.” A few of those acts include rapper Aaron Alexander, one of the first local artists Rhodes got into and his first Shuttlecock interview; Warm Bodies, a band Rhodes called "the most chaotic and weird punk band KC has ever seen;” and Spine, a hardcore group recently signed to an independent label that houses artists like Agnostic Front and BoySetsFire.

And though Rhodes remains modest about his contribution to KC’s music scene, he also recognizes the value in taking a closer, journalistic look at artists who often eschew the mainstream.

“Punk and hip-hop traditionally don't get a lot of publicity, especially hardcore and DIY stuff,” he said. “Giving them serious attention, analyzing their music and writing about the narrative that their scenes go through hadn’t been done much until this point.”

Shuttlecock is celebrating its third anniversary on the 4th of July with two fundraiser concerts — one for the Harrison Street DIY Skate Park and another later in the evening for the Kum-N-Go house. For more details, visit this page.

Michelle Bacon writes about music for 90.9 The Bridge and plays bass and drums in bands. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter at @michelleobacon.