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Sounds of Summer

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been bothered by an itch for quite some time.  An itch you haven’t been able to scratch for over a year now.  No, this isn’t an article on flea and tick season (though, -PSA, - it is here) but rather the return of live music to most of our lives.   There are some things that you just can’t re-create, and the booming sound of amps, drums, and guitar riffs while mingling with strangers that share a mutual appreciation is a uniquely joyful experience.  

Well, scratch no longer.  As the warmth of spring settles in for good, Kansas City’s outdoor music venues are back in business, welcoming patrons once again.  So, if you are looking to take in some tunes under the summer sky, you have plenty of options to choose from.  Let’s break it down.


Starlight Theater 

Designed by local architect Edward Delk, Starlight Theater officially opened in 1951, hosting plays and musicals.  Famously, former president Harry Truman, aptly playing the role of “President” in a production of Mr. President, had to be rushed from Starlight to the hospital at intermission due to a bout of appendicitis.  With its sloped seating, towering brick façade, and lush surroundings, an evening spent at Starlight Theater is as delightful as they come.  Listen closely, and you might just hear the roar of a hungry lion at the nearby Kansas City Zoo.  

Upcoming shows include:

  • Barenaked Ladies (6/30)

  • Alicia Keys (8/25)

  • The Doobie Brothers (9/14)

More info at:   

Grinders KC

Nestled between Locust and Oak Street in Kansas City’s Crossroads District, sits Grinders KC, a spacious open-air venue serving up a variety of musical acts to go along with delicious pizza, tots, and other snackable bites served from the back window of its namesake, Grinders Pizza.  

As unique a venue as you’ll find, at Grinders KC, you can take in views of the city skyline while you sip on some suds and groove under a canopy of stars.  


Upcoming shows include:

  • Jamie Johnson (6/18)

  • Sheryl Crow (6/28)

  • The Decemberists (8/7)

More info at: 

Providence Medical Amphitheater 

Providence Medical Amphitheater has been a mainstay KC music destination since 1984.  So much so that taking in a show here is a Kansas City rite of passage. 

With a capacity of 18,000, this sprawling complex, located in Bonner Springs, Kansas, features both bleachers and grass seating, not to mention some prime standing (or moshing) room down near the stage. Providence makes its hay by hosting bigger, popular acts from across the sonic spectrum.  

Upcoming Shows Include:

  • For King & Country (7/17)

  • Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit (8/3)

  • The Avett Brothers (10/1)

More info at: 


You’ll know you’re close to arriving at Knuckleheads right around the time you think you’re lost.  This neon lit bar, its parking lot often filled with motorcycles, is tucked away in KC’s East Bottoms district, looking like it was plucked straight from the set of Roadhouse.  

No worries, though - patrons will find nothing but good vibes upon entry.   While it features four stages, the jewel of Knuckleheads is its large outdoor courtyard, which includes a converted caboose for VIPs, and a raised deck for patrons to look down upon the action on stage while getting a good view of the passing trains close by.  

      Upcoming Shows Include:

  • David Archuleta (5/18)

  • Blues Traveler (7/2)

  • Billy Bob Thornton and The Boxmasters (8/20)

More info at:  


Lenexa Outdoor Concert Series 

On select Sunday evenings from mid-May through September, enjoy some live music at Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park Grand Pavilion in Lenexa, courtesy of the Lenexa Arts Council.  Concerts are free (as is parking) but don’t forget to bring a lawn chair or blanket for maximum comfort.  Bring some delectable bites and give your picnic its own soundtrack.

       Upcoming Shows Include:

  • Jessica Paige (5/16)

  • Jason Craig and the Wingmen (6/6)

  • The M80’s (9/19)

More info at:


Sounds on the Square (Gladstone)

If you find yourself up north, be sure to head over to Linden Square in Gladstone for “Sounds on the Square,” which kicks off in early June and features some of the best live acts in Kansas City.  Grab some adult beverages at their pop-up bar, and plop down and enjoy the show.  Sounds on the Square is family friendly so be sure to bring the whole gang.  All concerts kick off at 7pm.

       Upcoming Shows Include:

  • Cherry Bomb (6/4)

  • Funk Syndicate (7/16)

  • Stolen Winnebagos (8/20)

More info at: 


Sunset Music Fest (Leawood)

Returning to Town Center Plaza’s north parking lot on select Thursday evenings this June, Sunset Music Fest is set to deliver a variety of top-notch music, including a performance from 2019 Grammy-nominated blues artist and KC native, Danielle Nicole.  These family-friendly concerts start at 7pm (gates at 6) so pack your best lawn chair and circle that calendar because you won’t want to miss these lineups.

Upcoming shows:

  • Danielle Nicole Band with The Stolen Winnebagos (6/10)

  • Elton Dan & the Rocket Band with Mr. Stinky Feet (6/17)

  • Summer Breeze with Perpetual Change (6/24)

More info at: