Concerts are a great way to connect with your community, they create an unspoken bond between all patrons through the common interest of music. Live shows provide that close environment to share in the artistry, people, and emotions with every single person in attendance that you can hardly find anywhere else. In Kansas City, there are places to see the big names in the music biz, but a lot of people don’t know about the smaller local spots that are just as fun to go to!
Here is our scoop on the best music venues:
1. Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland
The Midland is one of the classic big name venues that is in Kansas City. Located right on Main Street in downtown, it’s the ideal spot for bars, restaurants, and hotels all within walking distance for before and after the shows. A myriad of artists have played on this stage, the Midland’s brightly lit marquee has held names like Chance the Rapper, Halsey, and Kacey Musgraves. The venue itself is stunning on the inside, with ornate chandeliers and curtains, you will always feel fancy walking through the Midland. It also hosts other shows like comedians, fashion shows, and private parties.
2. Knucklehead’s Saloon
This local spot is great for both indoor AND outdoor shows. Knucklehead’s has the Garage, their inside stage that has almost a biker bar feel, adorned with hubcaps, flags, tons of neon, and flyers advertising Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band as well as many other classic rock groups. Then for those warm Kansas City nights, Knucklehead’s traditional stage is outdoors! Again, tons of neon, and a stage that is visible from almost every angle, this is a great place for big draft beers and snacks from the food trucks parked outside. Knucklehead’s hosts smaller bands, whether their KC locals or bands from around the country, it’s always different and always fun.
3. KC Live! Music Block at Power & Light
The Power & Light District is Kansas City’s premier bar district. The KC Live! Stage is located right in the heart of the block, completely surrounded by the bars and restaurants that are included in P&L. The most popular string of concerts that hits this stage is probably Hot Country Nights. This series features new country music acts every Thursday night during the summertime. But KC Live! doesn’t limit itself to just country music, artists like DJ Pauly D, Tech N9ne, and Taking Back Sunday have all had shows hosted at Power & Light. Not only that, once the music is done or even before the concert starts, you’re right in the heart of a pub crawl waiting to happen, so there’s plenty of things to do while at this venue.
4. Kauffman Center for Performing Arts
If you have a flair for the classics, this venue is for you. The Kauffman Center for Performing Arts is home to the Kansas City Orchestra and Symphony. Not only do they have their regular shows, but the ensemble also plays the soundtrack to some of our most beloved movies, while the movie itself plays on a huge jumbo screen in the second hall! The Kauffman Center has recently gone under a total reconstruction, and the main hall is absolutely stunning. This is definitely a good venue for walking on the classical side of things.
5. Green Lady Lounge
Kansas City is most known for two things; barbecue and jazz. The Green Lady Lounge excels in showcasing local jazz musicians from around the city. The venue itself is a swanky downtown bar with a main floor and a basement, both holding the same type of classy vibe on both levels. Once described to me as a “swanky vampire bar,” the Green Lady is a great place for an intimate date night and for live music.
6. The Truman
A relatively new venue to hit the KC scene, The Truman offers a 1200 person space with a few bar tables for seating. This is located (as you might have guessed), off of Truman Road in the downtown area of Kansas City. It’s very close to the Power and Light district so it is ideal for concert goers who don’t like to travel very far. This space is a little more rowdy than some might prefer, so keep that in mind when considering attending the show! There are clear sight lines from almost everywhere within the venue, and has great acoustics for the performers. They boast an array of shows, like Buckcherry and even a silent disco. No matter what you choose, it will always be a good time at the Truman.
7. Sofar Sounds KC
Sofar Sounds isn’t necessarily a concert venue, but they are a company of people that support local live artists around the city. For each show, they choose a new secret location that you have to be picked for from their email list. The air of exclusivity makes it seem so much cooler, even thought you have probably never heard of most of the artists before. To be on the list, you have to sign up on their Instagram or Facebook. Don’t forget to bring a blanket or your own seating! Most of the time, these venues don’t have enough chairs for everyone. If you want to support local artists and want to feel exclusive while doing it, definitely sign up for Sofar Sounds KC to see what else the city has to offer.
8. Uptown Theatre
I often refer to the Uptown Theatre as a smaller, more intimate Midland. The decor in the stage areas are similar, both venues have opera style box seats and cascading curtains that create a very dramatic effect to enhance the performance of the evening. This venue in particular is great for those bands a lot of people know but not everyone necessarily knows they are in town. They also host annual events like their New Years Eve Bash and a Halloween party. On these nights, they also get local bands to come out and play on smaller stages they have hidden throughout the venue, as well as the main stage.
9. The Phoenix Jazz Lounge
While this isn’t necessarily a concert venue, The Phoenix is one of the oldest establishments in Kansas City. This historical jazz club has been around since the 1800’s and was once a speakeasy type saloon with a shady hotel on the floors above. Rumor has it that the original bartender and owner, Frank Valerius, still haunts the place! The Phoenix hosts live music every night of the week, with acts ranging from traditional jazz to bluesy rock, so there’s something for everyone. This landmark of Kansas City is a can’t-miss stop on your tour around town.
10. Crossroads KC at Grinder’s
I love a good outdoor venue, and Crossroads KC is nothing short of a great time. This local venue is located behind the popular pizza restaurant, Grinder’s, in the Crossroad’s Arts District. A wood-chip covered lawn leads up to the stage, and with lights strung over the top of the crowd, this is a beautiful spot for summer concerts. With a perfect view of downtown Kansas City in the background, Crossroads KC is a very popular location for many local radio stations to host their concerts. They also hold different events for the Crossroads like a portion of First Fridays, Food Truck Fest, and KC Taco Fest. Crossroads KC first opened their doors back in 2007, and has always had a passion for live music. They host everything from blues, to reggae, to rock and roll, and hip hop.
Thats our wrap up on the top 10 best music venues in Kansas City! We hope to see you out enjoying all of the creativity that KC has to offer very soon.
Not sure what to wear? Check out some concert outfit ideas for all sorts of music below!