For one evening every summer, the Liberty Memorial becomes the world’s biggest lighter, its simulated flame saluting a parade of rock-radio fixtures. Rockfest’s musical menu consists of McDonald’s entrées — the type of bands that satisfy millions using a basic formula. The bill’s most broadly respected group, headliner Stone Temple Pilots, spent the mid-’90s as a critical punch line, ridiculed for its alleged similarities to Pearl Jam. But time established the Pilots’ unique traits, such as a mean swagger (their earnest grunge contemporaries couldn’t have pulled off the date-rapist character study of “Sex Type Thing”) and a forlorn twang (the tumbleweed-infested urban squalor of “Big Empty”). For this tour, their first jaunt after a five-year hiatus, the Pilots have been letting fans select their set lists online, resulting in a comprehensive survey of the hits and a regional-preference-dictated rotation of album cuts. (Presumably, the Rockfest crowd will favor the group’s crunchier early material.) Other attractions include rap-rock survivors Saliva and Kansas City’s arena-rock acolytes Red Line Chemistry, holding down the local festival-opener slot at noon. For a schedule, go to KCRockfest.com.
“Vasoline” by Stone Temple Pilots