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Arts & Life

6 Ironic Things To Do In Kansas City This Weekend

Kris Krug
Wikimedia Commons
It doesn't get much more ironic than New Zealand's own Flight of the Conchords.

Can I give it to you straight? Probably not. Even if I could, would you take it that way?

Increasingly little these days appears to be totally safe from a potentially ironic interpretation – the sense that the opposite may be true of whatever professed message is being sent, often with humorous results.

Of course, there’s both intentional and unintentional irony, which sometimes can be tricky to differentiate. So I won’t try here. Unless I just did. But I probably didn’t!

1. Flight of the Conchords

New Zealand natives Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, better known as inspired comedy band Flight of the Conchords, are all about ironic possibilities, as loyal fans of their eponymously titled HBO TV series (2007-2009) can fully appreciate. When the guys try to be tough rappers, they wind up complaining about their “Hurt Feelings.” When they soulfully croon about an absolutely gorgeous female, she’s reduced to only “The Most Beautiful Girl (“In the Room)” or maybe one of the top-three most beautiful on the street, “depending on the street.” Best of all, the Conchords material is delivered with faces as straight as their sensibilities are bent.

Thursday, 8 p.m.; Starlight Theatre, 4600 Starlight Road, Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $35

2. Garbage

The irony factory was working overtime when this hit 1990s alternative rock band picked its trashy moniker. Fronted by attractively tacky Scottish singer Shirley Manson, such Garbage favorites as “Happy When It Rains” and “Stupid Girl” seem straightforward enough in their celebration of things that are not so great. And the band definitely rocks unambiguously. Still, the tongue-in-cheek department may be ready to make a delivery at any moment. I mean, they call themselves garbage, right?

Sunday, 8 p.m.; Uptown Theater, 3700 Broadway, Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $35, $55.

3. Louis C.K.

State-of-the-art stand-up comedy is the name of the game for top-notch funny man Louis C.K., who may be the best practitioner since the late George Carlin. Like Carlin, the highly skilled Mr. C.K not only knows how to create a comedic alchemy with equal doses of humor and insight, but also demonstrates a willingness to mess with his fans. Like when the star of FX’s “Louie” and the web series, “Horace and Pete,” complained a few years ago on “The Tonight Show” that “Kansas City is a terrible place.” Really? Well, ironically enough, anywhere can be terrible if you look hard enough. So call me an apologist, or maybe just a fan of crafty confrontation. Apparently, KC fans have yet to take the slam to heart, since the ultra-successful comic is having no trouble selling tickets to his big arena show here this weekend.

Thursday, 8 p.m.; Sprint Center, 1407 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $50.

4. Dale Watson

Old-school honky-tonk musician Dale Watson might initially appear to inhabit an irony free zone. But check out Watson’s song, “Jonesin’ For Jones,” his extremely entertaining tribute to legendary country artist George Jones, whose inner demons led him to miss a bunch of gigs in his career, earning him the funny/sad nickname of “No Show Jones.” So if the Jones-loving Watson was a no-show at one of his own concerts, would that be obviously fitting or secretly ironic? Did I mention that irony can also be confusing?

Saturday, 8:30 p.m.; Knuckleheads Saloon, 2715 Rochester St., Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $15.

5. ‘Chicago’

Chicago during the Roaring Twenties was fun for a lot of people, even if a lot of the fun was fueled by people’s criminal activity and dirty politics. The irony is not lost on audiences of the momentous Broadway musical “Chicago,” who seem to get a kick out of connecting the dots between the flapper era’s comingling of pleasure and pain. From “Cell Block Tango” to “All That Jazz” to “Mister Cellophane,” the sensational song and dance numbers communicate a delightful if also disturbing story.

Thursday and Friday, 7:35 p.m.; Saturday, 1 and 7:35 p.m.; Sunday, 1:30 and 7:35 p.m.; New Theatre Restaurant, 9229 Foster St., Overland Park, Kan.; tickets: $40-$65.

​6. Lynyrd Skynyrd with Black Oak Arkansas

These southern rockers from way back when have learned to deal with a certain inevitable irony. This weekend in Bonner Springs, headliner Lynyrd Skynyrd will for the zillionth time dutifully crank up its most famous song, “Free Bird,” which may not feel like such a freeing experience for the veteran musicians onstage. But what choice do they have? Talk about birds in a gilded cage! As for Black Oak Arkansas, original earthy vocalist Jim “Dandy” Mangrum will again bellow “Jim Dandy to the Rescue” – just don’t expect him to go shirtless like it was 1974. More than forty years of mileage on the old abdomen doesn’t inspire a great deal of action-hero worship. Yet the raucous music still serves its intended purpose. Go, Jim Dandy, go!  

Friday, 7 p.m.; Providence Medical Center Amphitheater, 633 N. 130th St., Bonner Springs, Kan.; tickets: $10-$170.

Brian McTavish is a regular arts and culture contributor for KCUR 89.3. Send him an email at brianmctavish@gmail.com

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