Our music cup truly runneth over this year. It seems like promoters, venues, and enthusiastic locals worked harder than ever to make this a memorable one. We saw a host of new and exciting bands, and said goodbye to some favorites. 2012 also saw a historic venue’s celebration of epic proportions, while several other venues got ripped to pieces during rowdy shows.
We couldn’t catch them all, but from what we saw, here are the Top Ten Local Shows of 2012:

10. Mansion’s Farewell Show – The Replay

There was no sadder/heartwarming/tearjearking night than when Mansion played their final show. The night actually began when Mansion opened for Converge at the Granada. The boys then trotted down the street to the Replay to play a “secret” set with The Cast Pattern. Writer Mitch Jones called Mansion a “powerhouse… a juggernaut, both an immovable object and an unstoppable force.” The self-proclaimed “Oklahomies” left a major impact on the scene both with their solid guitar choruses and positive attitudes, and the Replay gave them a worthy sendoff.
More details from the night here.

9. Jockin’ My Fresh – The Jackpot

The third installment of Jockin’ My Fresh brought some high-powered hip hop to the Jackpot stage in January. Lawrence was fully introduced to the likes of The Winner’s Circle (now regulars at the Jackpot) and Strider, who lit up the venue like a little ball of fire. Team Bear Club kept spirits high, but it was Ebony Tusks who was the true life of the party. He jumped into the audience on the floor and demanded everybody go to the extreme with their partying, which is what led to us coining a new nickname for the performer (The Black Andrew W.K.)
More details from the night here.

8. River City Extension – The Jackpot/Mass Street

When River City Extension came to the Jackpot, just a handful of people showed up. The temperature on that Sunday in June was sweltering and had scared most of the town into their air-conditioned homes. But the excitable and high-spirited performers in River City Extension rewarded the few who did come out with one of the most memorable sets of the year.
The multi-instrumentalists delivered the type of energy that’s usually reserved for large crowds and festivals. Memorable moment from the night: leading the crowd in a musical march down Mass Street, which turned heads when they yelled out their harmonies from all corners of the 1000 block. It was a thrilling maneuver for both the audience and the band, and one of the musicians yelled out “I need a cigarette!” at the end.
More details from the night here.


7. M83 / I Break Horses – The Granada

M83 put out one of the most beloved albums of the year, so it was no surprise that they packed every square inch of the Granada when they came through Lawrence. Some audience members were fairly overwhelmed by the set, and we heard several responses from the crowd that resembled the double rainbow guy. “Fucking beautiful!” and “This is so fucking awesome!” were phrases we heard repeated. The light show was an intense treat, but nothing got the audience leaping for joy and screaming with delight more than when the saxophone player came out for his solo at the end of “Midnight City.”
More details from the night here.

6. Dan Deacon – The Granada

Dan Deacon headlined one of the more bizarre tours of the year, bringing along three opening acts from his home state of Maryland. But it was his set that really got the masses moving. The thing about Dan Deacon shows is, you can’t just be a bystander. In fact, you ARE the show. Deacon is just pulling the strings.
Over the course of the night, Deacon lead the audience in several group dances and silly maneuvers. At one point, he even got the entire audience to leave the venue in a march. Highlight of the night: the intense dueling dance circles created by the audience.
More details from the night here.
Crazy dancing starts at about 2:55 in:


5. Spring Into Summer Fest – The Replay

Spring Into Summer Fest was full of little surprises this year. There was never a dull moment at the local music festival, namely when Approach appeared onstage missing his front teeth (and STILL delivered a flawless set without any lisps).
The day was filled with the kind of energetic and revitalizing sets you get from local bands as they dive into Spring. Prior to the sunset, bands like The Hips and Fourth of July played on a massive stage outside (the entire block had to be closed off). But after the dark settled in, the usual ruffians headlined the show indoors and delighted an overflowing crowd of incredibly tipsy and celebratory concert-goers.
More details from the night here.


4. The Lumineers / The Comettes – Liberty Hall

The Lumineers played one of the most highly-anticipated shows of the year at Liberty Hall in September. The sold out crowd was delighted to see the folk rockers twist and turn onstage, and were happy to sing along to several songs.
Just seconds into their big hit “Ho Hey,” frontman Wesley Schultz waved his hand over the crowd, abruptly stopping the set. “Put away all your phones,” he commanded. “You’re taking away from the experience.” The crowd cheered and happily obliged, immediately stuffing all the brightly-lit devices into their pockets. This left room for hand holding, clapping, stomping, and shouting out every word in unison (turns out Schultz was right!).
More details from the night here.


3. Die Antwoord – Liberty Hall

The three-ring circus known as Die Antwoord arrived at Liberty Hall just days before Halloween. The shock-rappers played to an overly anxious and excited audience that was ready to dance the night away.
Yo-Landi Vi$$er and Ninja spent most of the show in their underwear. Yo-Landi was particularly fond of flashing her bra to the audience, while Ninja was content with grabbing his crotch and shouting his opinions to the world. The rappers were full of exciting wardrobe options, and at one point Yo-Landi appeared in a shimmering gold bodysuit, poking her tush into the crowd so that the audience could happily oblige her demands and give her a good spanking.
More details from the night here.
(Be sure to watch the crowd go NUTS at two minutes in)


2. Broncho / Doubleplus – The Replay

At the start of the summer, Oklahoma rockers Broncho raised total hell at the Replay. The air was thick with sweat and punches while frontman Ryan Lindsey jittered uncontrollably onstage. The closer Broncho got to the end of their set, the more the audience clobbered each other. At one point, they almost knocked the bassist’s mic stand right into his own face (it never made impact thanks to the cat-like reflexes of one fan).
It was one hell of a show (and one hell of a slaughter on the dance floor) that left folks talking for weeks to come. At the end of the night, Lindsey (who frequents the area) commended the Lawrence scene. “Everybody is just so fucking chill,” he told us. “I hear all this hype about Lawrence, and never understood it until I played the Replay.”
More details from the night here.


1. Liberty Hall 100th Birthday Bash

When one of Lawrence’s best concert venues turns 100, it celebrates in style. Liberty Hall hosted a party of epic proportions that will go down in history. The two-day event featured performances from The Flaming Lips and Deerhoof on each night, along with a massive outdoor party.
Watching The Flaming Lips’ colorful carnage erupt inside the historic venue was an intense and visually stunning treat this summer. The two-day confetti wallop was so extreme, Lawrencians were left picking up pieces of confetti across downtown (some even in East Lawrence) for several weeks to come.
The sweaty show was sold out, but that didn’t keep hundreds from gathering outside for the street party while a big screen played images from the party inside.
Memorable moments from the legendary night:
*Watching local boy Kliph Scurlock (who plays for the Flaming Lips) appear with Deerhoof. He gets extra points for sporting a Lawrence Public Library shirt.
*Watching Wayne Coyne crawl in his Wayne-sized hamster ball on top of the audience to the point where he was eye-level with folks in the top balcony. Never in our entire lives have we seen a performer go straight from the stage to the balcony at Liberty Hall (although it has happened before, according to legend). It was a sight that got much of the audience leaping to their feet in an effort to reach out and touch Wayne.
More memorable moments from the night here, and a full photo gallery here.


Honorable Mentions:

Lawrence Field Day Fest – The Bottleneck
Lawrence Field Day Fest was a mid-summer all-star lineup of who’s who in the local garage rock and punk scene. The night included games, a photo booth, and a memorable Wayne’s World tribute from JabberJosh.

Fourth of July’s Fourth of July Show – The Replay
For several years now, Fourth of July has hosted one of the rowdiest, sweatiest, and most crowded parties of the year on Independence Day at the Replay. This year’s performance was memorable due to the fact that frontman Brendan Hangauer broke his wrist. They called on Say My Name to fill in on guitar while Hangauer rocked it solo (or “Mick Jaggered” it, as one of his bandmates called it). This left room for some swanky dance moves and interactions with the crowd. “I’m dancing way better than all you guys,” he yelled at the audience. “Let’s dance!”
Grant Hart / Danny Pound – The Taproom
It’s not every day you get to watch a legend, so when Grant Hart came through Lawrence to play the Taproom with local crooner Danny Pound, the audience was left foaming at the mouth. Memorable moment from the show: The scenesters were so stunned by the greatness behind the mic, all they could do was back all the way up against the wall and watch in awe.


Best New Artists of 2012:



Every now and then a new band comes along that just knocks our socks off. Earlier this Spring, we were introduced to the sibling trio known as Radkey. The mostly punk band quickly gained notoriety in Lawrence, wowing audiences across the state (and later on, the nation). We see nothing but incredible things happening for the brothers, who sometimes aren’t even old enough to be in the venues they perform in. Here’s to a fantastic 2013, Radkey!


Y(our) Fri(end)

From the very moment Taryn Blake Miller opens her mouth to sing, she turns heads. She’s commanded the attention of entire warehouses, venues, and art galleries. The soloist’s work with vocal loops and heartbreaking lyrics quickly caught fire across Lawrence. This Fall, she was playing to audiences with no more than a dozen spectators. By New Year’s Eve, she’ll be opening for Murder By Death. Lawrence knows good talent when it comes along, and the scene will be reluctant to let this one get away any time soon.
The video below is well worth your time.



Fally Afani is an award-winning journalist with a career spanning more than 20 years in media. She has worked extensively in radio, television, newspapers, magazines, and more.

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