Open Spaces ‘Weekend,’ with Janelle Monáe, the Roots and the Marcus Lewis Big Band, at Starlight Theatre

All photos by April Fleming.

There are still a few weeks until Open Spaces, Kansas City’s sprawling public arts festival, reaches its official conclusion, but some of the marquee events were held at Swope Park this weekend, or “The Weekend,” as Open Spaces dubbed it. National artists including the Roots have been joined by local artists including the McFadden Brothers, Hermon Mehari, and Kansas City’s most famous musical daughter, Janelle Monáe.

Through a misty chill, Friday night’s show drew about 1,000 attendees to see a hot performance from the Roots Crew, while about 3,500 came out for Monáe on Saturday. Monáe, the face of Open Spaces and the headliner of The Weekend, is touring on her latest effort, Dirty Computer. She was surrounded by family and friends (even some of her teachers), who’d gathered to dance and relish in Monáe’s unabashed embrace of her identity, and to celebrate her call for self love (both physical and self care). It wasn’t subtle — she brought out those incredible vagina pants that she wore in her video for “Pynk” — but then, not much about Monáe has ever been understated. She’s the heir apparent to Prince and a fully realized artist in her own right, and she delivered two hours of pure eye and ear candy. For an arts festival like Open Spaces, she truly was the perfect headliner.

Weekend Pros:

Great artists, continued awe that this is in part a city-sponsored event.

Weekend Cons:

Poor marketing and high ticket prices (considering past draws of these artists) likely kept many potential attendees away.

Takeaway Thought:

We hope the city didn’t lose its shirt on this. Open Spaces has been the best arts event KC has offered residents in memory.

Categories: Music