We love the month of February because it’s that time of year when everyone’s a little sick of staying in, so they head to shows. This month is an exceptionally exciting time for live music, thanks to a number of danceable bands and high-energy performers. Whether you’re looking to take in some of the trendiest acts in the nation, or wanting to slow it down with a sound that’s more old school, the Lawrence music scene has you covered. Here are some of the must-see events this February.
The Granada, February 1
If you really want to get familiar with new styles of hip-hop, but still pine for the golden era sound, we’d heavily recommend YBN Cordae.
Securing a nomination for best rap album and best rap song at the Grammys, YBN Cordae is one of 2020’s must-watch artists. Just a few months into The Lost Boy’s release, Cordae is receiving accolades across the nation, notably for helping lead the charge on a new era of rappers (he’s known for bridging the gap between old and new styles of hip-hop). The Lost Boy features appearances from big names in the industry, including Chance the Rapper, Ty Dolla $ign, and Pusha T. But it’s his wise-beyond-his-years lyrical style that’s really been turning heads.
YBN Cordae hits the Granada on February 1st with 24KGoldn and LONR are also set to perform.
fruit”>Strange Fruit by Bad Alaskan
Black Prom with the Phantastics
The Granada, February 8
In celebration of Black History Month, I Heart Local Music is releasing an entire, extended magazine issue dedicated to black performers in Lawrence. To coincide with this release, we’re throwing a party at the Granada. The Phantastics are set to headline Black Prom, and will play two sets full of soul, funk, dance, hip-hop, R&B, and more. Attendees can expect a lot of pomp and circumstance, as well as some surprise performances throughout the night.
This event is free and all ages.
Maria the Mexican
The Jazzhaus, February 14
We honestly can’t think of a better way to spend Valentine’s Day than dancing with your darling to Maria the Mexican. This is a special show for the Mariachi-influenced band, as they’re releasing their new single and video, “Mexicans & Americans,” to coincide with the event. Come for the gorgeous vocal stylings of Teresa and Maria Elena Cuevas, stay in hopes that they pull out their popular cover of “Como La Flor.”
Liberty Hall, February 17
If you like pop music but want to be thrilled with a really avant-garde performance full of metal riffs and attitude, head to Liberty Hall on February 17 to see Poppy. The lively performer blends electronic, industrial, shoegaze, metal, and any other genre she can possibly get her hands on for a unique live show. The Lawrence stop comes on the heels of her latest release, I Disagree, and brings a lot of sass to the stage.
You can watch her battle some record executives in her new music video for the title track off her album before heading to the big show at Liberty Hall:
The Mardi Gras Parade
Downtown/Mass Street, February 25Don’t be surprised if you hear a sudden commotion in the middle of the afternoon on February 25. That’s when a loud, colorful celebration bursting with joy comes to Downtown Lawrence. The annual Mardi Gras Parade features an ensemble of musicians in the Brass Mob Brass Band leading a march from one end of Mass St. to the other (sometimes lasting up to three hours!). It draws revelers far and wide to join in on the fun as they saunter down the sidewalk and storm Downtown businesses before making it to their final destination at Free State Brewery. This is a free and family friendly event with colorful costumes and noise makers encouraged. It kicks off in front of Aimee’s Coffee at noon.
Durand Jones & The Indications
The Bottleneck, February 29
Lovers of old school soul will absolutely adore what Durand Jones & The Indications bring the stage. Beautiful and smooth vocals weaved into a classic sound will have attendees absolutely melting at the Bottleneck at the end of the month. This show is for fans of Curtis Mayfield and Jackie Wilson. Don’t be surprised if you feel like you’ve stepped into another era when you set foot inside the popular Downtown venue on this night. Get ready, this is swaying-with-your-sweetheart music.
Durand Jones & the Indications hit the Bottleneck with special guest KAINA on February 29.
Watson has an impressive track record, releasing 15 studio albums, charting with Billboard, and spending time collaborating with artists like Willie Nelson. Later this year, Watson’s set to be inducted into the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame.
Other noteworthy concerts this month:
Various Blonde / Not a Planet / The Black Mariah Theater at The Replay
Amanda Fish at The Bottleneck
Soul Rebel & The Beast with Streetlevel Uprising at The Bottleneck
Dumpstar / Mr. and the Mrs. at The Replay (early show)
Electric Guest at The Granada
Damaris and Davis at Kaw Valley Public House
Destroyer at The Granada
Fally Afani is an award-winning journalist with a career spanning more than 15 years in media. She has worked extensively in radio, television, newspapers, magazines, and more. Currently, she resides in Lawrence, Kansas, where she works as a music journalist and is the Editor of I Heart Local Music.