Saturday night will go down as one of the most LFK events of the year, thanks to a diverse lineup of local musicians and a giant outpouring of local support. The Granada, along with Eleven Productions, hosted Live On Mass– a free outdoor show for the masses that featured some of the biggest crowd pleasers in the area. The Get Up Kids, who were long overdue for a Lawrence show, put their international touring on hold for the weekend and headlined the big event. They were joined by Kansas City’s Making Movies, local musical mastermind and YouTube sensation Kawehi, and up-and-coming songwriters Lily Pryor and Iris Hyde.
The massive stage went up just in front of Papa Keno’s, and featured the very picturesque clock tower framing the setup in the background. Throughout the evening, happy revelers filed in to enjoy the free show and festivities. By the time The Get Up Kids took the stage at dusk, the entire block was filled to the brim and positively buzzing.
There are Get Up Kids albums that are older than many of the attendees who came out on Saturday (we have to admit feeling a little old when they fired up “Valentine,” then slowly realizing Something To Write Home About came out in 1999). The band dug into all their gems, heavy on explosive and raw emotion, powered by an energy that has yet to be matched by much of the bands active in today’s scene.
However, it’s important to remember that these are the musicians who paved the road for today’s bands, and they weren’t alone in that feat. It took the entire village to pull of Saturday night’s unforgettable show, and the band was sure to give nods to the promoters, workers, and facilitators who threw this together. In fact, those same people have been putting together all the most memorable shows of the last two decades. Judging by all the happy little emo kids (now in their 30’s and 40’s) hopping about, along with the hefty amount of Kansas City fans who accompanied all the townies for this show, Live On Mass will join the long list of remarkable and distinguished shows brought to you by organizers who actually give a damn about their scene.
Making Movies also played a big part in making the night memorable, thanks to their unapologetic political stance.
The band sported flags from Mexico, Panama, and the United States stretched out behind them onstage, and stood by their “We Are All Immigrants” motto. They donated part of their merch sales to the National Immigration Law Center, and proudly talked about their Latino roots. But it was their “Mexicano rhythm” version of Tears For Fears’ “Everybody Wants To Rule The World,” that won the night over– especially when they insisted it was a “middle finger to Mr. Trump.”
Kawehi made her name on the internet, and then made it even bigger on the road. But the viral star’s Lawrence shows are few and far between (or discreet, as we noticed at a bookstore performance a couple of years ago). But on Saturday, the charismatic and accomplished musician made a big stage seem like an intimate space, as she explained the looping and beatboxing behind her tunes (making it feel as much an educational experience as a live show).
Lily Pryor and Iris Hyde kicked the night off with a series of covers and originals, featuring their graceful harmonizing. Their songs conjured up a wide array of emotions, ranging in subject from dungeons and dragons to the grief Pryor struggled with after the Pulse shooting in Orlando.
Every act that went on seemed to have just the tiniest hint of surprise in their eyes. While Lawrence does enjoy a good outdoor concert (Free State Fest always perfected their outdoor events), Live On Mass was the first of its kind. Up until now, concerts generally blocked off the side streets and not the main roads. This show put local bands (featuring men, women, queer folk, and people of color) square in everyone’s line of vision. Even Get Up Kids frontman Matt Pryor kept earnestly expressing disbelief onstage at how this night turned out bigger than he anticipated. It takes a certain amount of effort and adoration from both the musicians and the audience to pull off an event like Live On Mass– and considering how much of a music mecca LFK has become over the last few decades, there’s no doubt events like this will continue.
You can catch the second edition of Live On Mass next weekend when Reggae Fest hits the streets with The Wailers.
Photos by Fally Afani and Leroy Pristach.