Most people don't get engaged in the aisle of a Kmart.
If they do, they have a good reason, like they met while both shopping the Adam Levine Collection, which is a real thing.
No, really, it is.
Look at this camo sweatshirt from the Adam Levine Kmart Collection.
It says "UNPLUGGED" on the back.
Most people, except for our fictional couple who are obsessed with The Voice and listen to "She Will Be Loved" everyday, get engaged in cool places.
That's because dope spaces enhance our moments.
If a thing is already dope, it being in a dope place makes it more dope.
I proposed to my wife in the living room of the West Plaza house (Liberty Girls forever) she was living in at the time. Partly because it was late December and too cold to go outside, but mostly that house meant a lot to us. Our second date, after seeing The Civil Wars in Lawrence, we sat on the porch steps swapping stories until 3 a.m., and I fell in love with her. We also shared a lot of sweet times with friends in that house, like the time our pal John climbed the tree in the front yard after some Buffalo Trace or I hid in a closet because of that same Buffalo Trace.
All that said, I proposed in the dining room of that house because those walls and what happened inside them meant a lot to us. I knew she wouldn't care where we got engaged (it's the ring and eternal pledge of devotion that matter, right?), but I wanted it to be as special as possible, because life and humans are worthy of it.
They're making Kansas City better.
The typical concert is scattered with audience members who don’t feel a connection to the artist or music being played. At arena and stadium shows, corporations and donors toss out tickets to folks as rewards. That’s fine. Some people like to go to club or bar venues as social experiences regardless (and sometimes in spite of) the music being played. I've done that, too. I'm not shaming anybody. I'm just saying I'd forgotten what it was like to be in a space where 1) talented artists are playing songs they care about and 2) everyone was there to hear.
Sofar Sounds curates intimate musical experiences by holding shows in unique spaces and caretaking the guest list. We interviewed Hank Wiedel, Kansas City's Sofar Sounds Captain, and he told us they had a concert in a menswear shop. And a yoga studio. Audience members apply to be a part of the evening and are notified day of that they’ve been selected, of who the musical talent will be and where the show will take place. As a guest, you get to “share the moment in an amazing setting with a curated audience of extraordinary people.”
Eric and I went to the Sofar Sounds Kansas City Give a Home show, which raised money for Amnesty International. A group gathered in the botanical backyard of a nice home south of the Plaza on a muggy September night. Some guests brought lawn chairs and spread out blankets. Others stood on the perimeter or sat on concrete stairs that led from the driveway to patio and deck, which the bands used as a stage. The show was BYOB, but featured a cooler stocked full of Boulevard beer, and Eric and I stashed the Coors Banquets we carried down the street inside. There was a bathroom in the basement for us to use, and the basement was dope. It reminded me of hanging out in basements during high school, when we'd sneak Caribbean rum and listen to Panic! at the Disco and hope girls would text us.
The girls rarely texted us.
The Noise FM, Hembree and Enrique Chi played. Those acts don't usually strip down their tunes, but this was a backyard in an affluent neighborhood, so they did. I think their songs sounded more meaningful because of it. These bands were playing sets in a place they shouldn't be playing and playing their songs in ways they weren't meant to be played.
It was real good.
A couple weeks ago, we talked with Kathryn Golden, organizer and founder of Porchfest Kansas City.
The premise of Porchfest is similar to Sofar Sounds: take musicians, put them in unique places and invite people to enjoy the experience. Kathryn told us that she first went to a Porchfest in California, and when she moved back to Kansas City she was looking for a creative project to take on. She said she thought about all the rad porches in the Midtown and West Plaza areas of Kansas City, and thought our town would be perfect for it.
PorchfestKC 2017 featured around 150 musicians playing tunes on peoples' stoops all afternoon.
A lot of different kinds of music were played on a bunch of unique porches, and a wide variety of Kansas Citians walked, wondered around, and listened. They tipped with dollar bills and ate from food trucks. A lot of strangers in the same city crossed paths, and artists whose voices don't get heard near enough had hour-long sets to invite others to experience their craft.
PorchfestKC is also real good.
What I love about Sofar Sounds and PorchfestKC is both movements don't stop at "creative" or promoting "the arts". Each adds a distinct layer of creativity to art by curating unique spaces where art isn't just consumed, but felt and lived in for a while.
I like to talk with people about what Kansas City needs to grow. It's a damn good town, but I'd love to see it be better. Sure, I think an NBA team would be nice and I'd like that new Amazon HQ too.
But these types of creative endeavors: thinking outside the box and into the backyard and onto the porch, are the roots of a healthy city. We can't just be fans. Kansas Citians need to make, organize, get dirty.
Kansas City isn't a Kmart. It's a dope town that qualifies as at least a Neighborhood Walmart.
I love that creative, thoughtful and smart minds are making it more doper.
Shop more of the Adam Levine collection here.