Welcome to sweet, summery June! If there’s one thing you’ll be doing with live music this month, it’s getting outdoors and enjoying a festival or two. June is always such a beautiful time of year, and those who enjoy the sunshine will be thrilled with how many opportunities await for hitting the dance floor and the streets. The other big trend for June? Many events on the concert calendar are rare, once-in-a-lifetime moments. So clear your calendar; here are the best bets for June.
South Park | Every Wednesday
There are some things that are just so “Unmistakably Lawrence,” and one of the events at the top of that list is the weekly City Band Concert. Every Wednesday, Lawrencians young and old pull up a lawn chair and park it in the grassy sprawl at South Park. The Lawrence City Band gets together and then plays a sunset concert. Each week is accompanied by a different theme. You may get a Beach Boys medley one week and a tribute to movie soundtracks the next. Last year one of the highlights was hearing the band (which gets the setlist last-minute and rehearses a mere hour before the show) tackle Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
The event is well-loved and well-attended but never overwhelming. Even the dogs that show up seem to chill. The flowers are in full bloom, the gazebo is glistening in the yellow sunset, and the only sound you’ll hear competing with the show is the giggling and squealing children splashing around in the fountain. Come on out; everyone’s welcome at the picnic blanket.
RIYL: Summer, children playing in the fountain, lawn chair get-togethers.
The Granada | June 16
This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime shows that may never pop up in Lawrence again, so it’s best to catch it this time around. Nigerian musician Femi Kuti has joined forces (Positive Forces, pun intended) with his son Mádé Kuti for this unique experience. This is their first tour stateside in five years, and Lawrence’s stop is near the beginning of it.
Lawrence has seen a bit of an African renaissance lately. We had The Salvation Choir (Congo) hit the Replay back in the Spring, and Ata Kak (Ghana) drew a crowd of tastemakers to the Bottleneck. Now, with Femi Kuti rounding out the Summer, there’s a chance this is a trend that could continue through the rest of the year. Afrobeat is seeing a big presence in live shows this year, and this is a must-see event for those deep in the genre.
RIYL: Fela Kuti, King Sunny Ade, dancing your butt off.
The Bottleneck | June 16
If you LIVE for Summer, and we mean live-eat-sleep-BREATHE the hazy and warm days of Summer, this is the event for you.
Our friend, a roller-skating enthusiast, described it best. Cannons is the band in your headphones when you’re out skating alone, surrounded by nothing but the warm Summer air. The groovy and sultry voice of Michelle Joy (Lewish) layered over rich synths, and deep, throbbing beats is at the top of our list for Summer pop soundtracks (and they’ll be on yours too after just one listen).
RIYL: Washed Out, LEISURE, Beach House
Abe & Jake’s, Lucia, The Granada | June 24 – June 25
Full disclosure: This is an I Heart Local Music event.
There’s a reason June is our favorite time of year. That’s when we get to celebrate love and identity with Lawrence PRIDE! This year, we decided to go big and make it stretch across two days and four venues.
On Friday, The Granada is hosting ballroom (think “Pose”) with The Skittles Ball while Cuee and some drag performers head to the Lucia stage. Vibe (located between The Granada and Lucia) will host a Final Friday art event featuring queer artists. The Skittle Ball is free, but suggested donations will be accepted for Haus of McCoy.
Then, on Saturday, the Sass-a-Brass Marching Band takes us all down Mass St. Folks will gather in South Park and march as a community to Abe and Jake’s, where MsAmanda Love hosts a night of drag, dancing, and live music by Kansas City’s Stephonne (if you’ve never seen Stephonne, imagine Prince if he were seven feet tall and dressed even more scandalously).
It’s going to be one for the books this year, and as always, PRIDE remains FREE and ALL AGES.
RIYL: Billy Porter, RuPaul’s Drag Race, free love, dancing, fun, and all things Unmistakably Lawrence.
St. John the Evangelist Catholic Parish | June 25
There are a million and one things to love about St. John’s Fiesta. Maybe you’re a fan of homemade tacos? Or those little confetti eggs that you’ll be washing out of your hair all Summer? But for us, it’s the music. We know how hard the dancers and musicians work all year to get ready for this event, and it shows.
Fiesta is something you get only once during the entire year, and it’s a long-standing and well-loved tradition here in Lawrence. You’ll want to bring your dancing shoes. But if you’re not much of a dancer, you can enjoy arguably one of the best parts of this event: watching couples dance cheek-to-cheek for hours on end.
Other shows to watch:
Replay Lounge | June 3
The Bottleneck | June 4
The Granada | June 9
The Bottleneck | June 10
The Granada | June 10
Replay Lounge | June 11
Lied Center of Kansas | June 11
The Granada |June 13
Replay Lounge | June 16
The Bottleneck | June 21