Middle of The Map: The Riot Room

Middle of The Map is next week. The three day festival turns the entire city into a veritable music factory. From Thursday night to Saturday night, national and local acts share stages across Kansas City–which, coincidentally, makes for a perfect weekend of discovering new favorite bands and venues and bars. The line up for Middle of The Map is stacked to the gills with talent, and writing about every act worth seeing would be an impossibility, so instead I’m focusing on a few venues and covering some bands I’m particularly excited to catch. One of the venues is The Riot Room. This venue has become a mainstay in Westport. Whether you want to catch a metal show or dance the night away on the patio, The Riot Room has something going on.

And Middle of The Map is no different. On the festival’s opening day, 34 will kick off the weekend right with their no holds barred metal. Full of sludgy breakdowns and riff brutality, 34 is the perfect mix of a myriad of subgenres of metal. Never letting their instrumentation get too far from visceral chugs and dissonance, the five piece makes metal in the vein of The Acacia Strain, Throwdown, and Underminded. That said, much like a Rothko, the band’s subtle layering of color and tone gives their songs a depth that draws their listeners back and back again to their tunes.


On Friday, go out to the patio to catch LIONMAKER (a collaboration between beat conductor LION and MC Barrel Maker). The two make hip hop in line with Clams Casino and A$AP Rocky. Lush beats and amorphous textures reign supreme on LIONMAKER’s tracks. That said, Barrel Maker’s smooth delivery and rap allusions make the songs pop unlike any other hip hop act in Kansas City. With a stage performance that gives his lyrics depth, Barrel Maker is a force when he takes the stage.

Coming off their latest album, Moh Lhean, WHY? is a band that has grown up. The indie rock hip hop hybrid has shifted from inhaling crushed bones from a whiteout pen to contemplating the nature of relationships and reality in general. Each of their albums represents a different facet of their sound. Moh Lhean is more mature than anything WHY? has put out. Full of dense instrumentation and some of the catchiest lyrics this side of Alopecia, Moh Lhean shows hope for music’s future. And if you have ever caught Yoni Wolf on stage, then you know the passion and fervor the frontman puts into all of his performances.

Of course there will be more than these three acts worth catching during Middle of The Map (and at The Riot Room). But these three have me hyped for one of the best festivals Kansas City has to offer. And since the venue’s right across Broadway from your favorite record joint, if there’s a lag in music, WHY? not stop in and check some records?

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