Center of the City relocates to Davey’s Uptown Ramblers Club this weekend

Last year, the Center of the City Fest had to roll with some punches. The venue where it had taken place for three years, Vandals, was sold before the fourth installment, leading to a six-week delay before a new home was found at Harling’s Upstairs. This year brings another move, but one that suggests newfound stability: Doing it at Davey’s Uptown, co-organizer Mike Yeager says, should be a boon for the event.

“It’s a centralized location within the music scene, and they’re working with us to get this year set up,” he tells me. When I suggest that many of the acts on the lineup are already known to audiences at Davey’s, he agrees, but explains that this year’s lineup is more diverse. The idea, he says, is to go beyond the heavy focus on local punk and hardcore acts.

“We’re bringing in a lot more bands from Lawrence, Omaha, St. Louis,” says Yeager, who booked all 50 acts himself. “And we’re also adding metal and hip-hop and folk into the mix.

“The main thing for me this year was getting some hip-hop acts,” he adds. Omaha rapper Conchance, who’s been a regular presence in the KC and Lawrence area for several years, is one such artist Yeager cites as a source of new energy. “When he confirmed, that was probably the most excited I got for someone confirming for Center of the City,” he says.

The bill is just plain big, with more than four dozen performers. And if it isn’t quite a something-for-everybody approach, the fest’s attempt to move outside the standard punk scope is designed to build bigger audiences for familiar faces, and a new local fanbase for unfamiliar acts.

“We’re not looking to really gain anything,” he says. “We do this for the fans of the music. The people that appreciate the DIY aesthetic a lot of these bands are about — a lot of these bands play to new people and gain a new audience.”

To that end, he hopes that putting Lawrence hip-hop trio Ebony Tusks on the same night as gypsy punks Nuthatch-47 can have positive repercussions.

“Maybe someone that wouldn’t like a particular style of music, that band can introduce them to it,” Yeager says. “They’ll think, ‘Oh, shit. I’ve been missing out!’ ”

Center of the City isn’t changing everything, though. Acts that have performed year in and year out, including the Rackatees, Hipshot Killer and Stinkbomb, are all slated to return for this installment. And for those who haven’t been before, Center of the City No. 5 is definitely the year to jump in.

“It can be stressful,” Yeager says of the organization required to bring more than four dozen performers together. “But at the end of the day, when I get home and think about the whole day, it’s totally worth it. Seeing the pictures people take, and the write-ups — that makes it all worth it.”

Center of the City Fest V
Davey’s Uptown Ramblers Club
Thursday, June 2, through Saturday, June 4
Lineup and set times at

Categories: Music