You won’t go thirsty at Kansas City Bier Company’s annual Oktoberfest, which returns to Crown Center on October 7 and 8. Among the offerings are traditional lagers in the style of Munich and Vienna, plus a Hef, an IPL and even a cider. They’re poured by the plastic stein to a crowd of ten thousand-plus people who gather under big white tents. As always, there will be polka aplenty, with a half-dozen oom-pah acts performing during the event.
But beer and brass bands are just the start of a proper observation of Oktoberfest, which in Munich is more like a country fair than an American craft beer fest. This year’s edition of KC’s largest German fest puts extra emphasis on games and brings in its own Glockenspiel. The games include the return of the popular giant tricycle races on an extreme track, plus adding more stumps for Hammerschlagen (a folk game in which you swing a hammer to drive a nail into a stump) and more cornhole boards.
There’s also a tribute to the Rathaus-Glockenspiel, which in Munich is a century-old clock outfitted with life-size figures that move to tell stories from German history on the hour. In KC, the clock will be a group of performers doing short skits and music on the hour, every hour.
Violent Femmes with the Kansas City Symphony
October 1, 8 pm
The Violent Femmes, an eighties acoustic punk rock act best known for ultimate ear-worm “Blister in the Sun,” joins the Kansas City Symphony to present songs from their ten cult-favorite albums. It’s part of a series that will continue with the orchestra teaming up two other Gen X favorites, Indigo Girls and Rufus Wainwright. October 1. 8 pm. Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center.
October 2, 2 pm
French composer Georges Bizet’s Carmen is at the Kauffman Center. The four-act opera based on a nineteenth-century novella is one of the most popular and frequently performed operas of all time. Passion, bullfighting, a female heroine—what more could you want from an opera set in Seville? If you didn’t catch it in September, you don’t want to miss the last weekend of Carmen in October. October 2. 2 pm. Muriel Kauffman Theatre at the Kauffman Center.
Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives
October 6, 7:30 pm
Grammy-winning singer, songwriter and musician Marty Stuart has played alongside country-music legends from Cash to Lester Flatt, who discovered him. He continues to record and release music that honors country’s rich legacy while advancing it. When it comes to turning country songs into tangible experiences, Stuart has the Fabulous Superlatives. Made up of guitarist Kenny Vaughan, drummer Harry Stinson and a new member, bassist Chris Scruggs, the Superlatives are an extension of Stuart, a music legend. October 6. 7:30 pm. Muriel Kauffman Theatre at the Kauffman Center.
October 7, 7 pm
The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra has a new ten-piece ensemble with new tunes and daring improvisations. KC’s stylistic contributions to early jazz were defined by riff-based jam sessions and popular songs like “In the Mood” and “Shake, Rattle and Roll.” Now, the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra shines a light on this essential component of jazz and KC’s place in music history. October 7. 7 pm. Medallion Theater.
Found in Translation
The Nelson is featuring a new exhibition by eight regional, first-generation Asian American artists. The exhibit examines complex topics such as immigration and identity. “The eight artists in this exhibition use their practices to explore evolving questions about subjects such as place, memory and relationships,” says co-curator Ling-En Lu. “Their choice of materials and techniques reflect the process by which they work through those questions.” Found in Translation includes a diverse collection of art forms such as printmaking, photography, ink drawing and ceramics. Opens October 8. The Nelson-Atkins Museum.
October 8, 12–6 pm
Troostapalooza celebrates the KC community by bringing together local small businesses and creators along the Troost Corridor. The event will feature several vendors, live music and food. Troostapalooza funds the Troost Market Collective, a nonprofit organization that supports diversity and economic opportunity for creative entrepreneurs. October 8. Noon–6 pm. Troost Avenue between 30th and 31st streets.
The Crown Live
This one is for fans of the blockbuster series The Crown. An acting duo brings to life Daniel Clarkson’s Netflix parody that reimagines the story of how Elizabeth Windsor became Queen Elizabeth II in eighty minutes of period accents and corgi impressions. Clarkson is the co-creator of the Olivier Award nominee Potted Potter, which parodies all seven of the Harry Potter books in a single show. October 11–16. 7:30 pm. Starlight Theatre.
October 14, 8 pm
Singer, songwriter, rapper and TikTok sensation Lizzo is touring with her new album, Special. Lizzo’s fourth studio album was released earlier this year, preceded by the lead single, “About Damn Time,” which reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Special has been described as having funk, pop, hip-hop and disco influences. Rapper Latto will open for Lizzo’s full arena tour. October 14. 8 pm. T-Mobile Center.
Death Cab For Cutie
October 14, 8 pm
Death Cab for Cutie—Ben Gibbard’s painfully earnest early-’00s indie band that once rocked so hard concerts were forevermore banned from the River Market—is coming to KC this month in support of Asphalt Meadows, which debuted last month. The album features the lead single “Roman Candles” about the existential dread of “living in a nervous city on a dying planet,” the band said of the song in a statement. October 14. 8 pm. The Midland.
Bills vs. Chiefs
October 16, 3:25 pm
Arguably the biggest regular season game of the year, this matchup of the infamous “13 seconds” playoff game finds quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen dueling it out again. There’s a better-than-good chance this is a preview of the AFC championship game, and last time it all came down to a coin flip. October 16. 3:25 pm. Arrowhead Stadium.
Brew at the Zoo
October 15, 6:30 pm
The Kansas City Zoo’s annual Brew at the Zoo is back this month with an adults-only evening of live music and free sampling from over thirty-five local breweries and wineries. The event will also feature local food trucks, access to the zoo’s new immersive lantern festival called GloWild and more. Proceeds from the event benefit the Kansas City Zoo’s Conservation Fund for preserving wildlife. October 15. 6:30–11 pm. The Kansas City Zoo.
October 19, 8 pm
Philly lo-fi indie rocker Kurt Vile seems to only be getting more zoned out and mellow as his career progresses. His new record, Watch My Moves, which came out in April after being recorded amid Covid lockdowns, is soft-themed to slow travel with songs like the piano-driven “Goin on a Plane Today” and the meandering and loopy “Flyin (Like A Fast Train).” October 19. 8 pm. Liberty Hall in Lawrence.
Dark Forest at Powell Gardens
October 21–23 & 27–30
As nightfall sweeps across an eerie Midwest sky, Dark Forest returns to offer a magical and mysterious landscape with captivating music and innovative, creative technology. Local performance art collective Quixotic is working with Powell Gardens to create one of their signature immersive installations in the woods. October 21–23 and October 27–30. 5–11 pm. Powell Gardens.
October 21 & 22
KC Rep’s annual Ghost Light is a show that combines music and ghost stories. The show begins at dusk in the woods of Roanoke Park. The family-friendly event is free and features musicians, writers and storytellers that reflect the cultural riches of the city. October 21 and 22. Roanoke Park in KCMO.
Napoleon Dynamite with Jon Heder, Jon Gries and Efren Ramirez
October 22, 8 pm
The story behind Napoleon Dynamite is almost as legendary as the cult film itself: Two Brigham Young film students wrote a screenplay about awkward teens and their quirky uncle and cobbled together four hundred grand to film it in rural Idaho. The film became a cultural sensation, with a cult following remaining to this day. At this screening and talk, you’ll hear more inside details from Jon Heder (Napoleon), Efren Ramirez (Pedro) and Jon Gries (Uncle Rico). October 22. 8 pm. Yardley Hall at JCCC.
The Four Freshmen
October 28, 8 pm
The Four Freshmen that originally founded this vocal jazz quartet were part of the class of 1952 at Butler University in Indiana. A half-century and two dozen lineups later, they’ve kept the sound and look while performing hits like “Day By Day” and “Blue World” accompanied by the JCCC Jazz Band, directed by Ryan Heinlein. October 28. 8 pm. Yardley Hall at JCCC.