Wichita’s Music Scene is a Vibe, Here’s Why
By Emily Younger Barnwell
What role does a thriving music scene play in enhancing the livability of Wichita? Experts and musicians alike will tell you a whole lot!
Just ask the band Shinyribs. Yes, that’s the name of the Austin-based supergroup that boasts nearly 75,000 Facebook and Instagram followers.
“Wichita is a perfect city to live.”
Shinyribs recently raved about the ICT calling it the “perfect vibe” for creation after a memorable rehearsal at a local warehouse before they performed at Wichita’s WAVE, a vibrant downtown concert and venue community.
“I would suggest if you are looking to move, this is the place to go,” Shinyribs posted to their social media accounts in late June.
While top artists have been touring in Wichita for decades, the city’s music scene has experienced a resurgence in recent years.
Rudy Love Jr., an acclaimed artist hailing from Wichita and celebrated on a national level, describes it as exceptionally diverse and unique – a best-kept secret.
“I’ve seen more artists pushing the envelope and gaining national attention as well as using their music to advocate for social change,” said Love.
Jessie Hartke, an independent music advocate, and her husband have witnessed the transformation firsthand.
In response to a need for a large outdoor venue, the Hartkes opened WAVE in the fall of 2018, providing a platform for both local and touring acts in downtown Wichita.
The list of performers who have graced the WAVE’s stage includes Wu-Tang Clan, The Flaming Lips, Snoop Dog, Ginuwine, Mya, Kip Moore, Kansas, Incubus, Bobby Bones and many others, drawing crowds of 500 to 3,500 people.
However, the music scene in Wichita extends far beyond popular bars and venues like WAVE, INTRUST Bank Arena, TempleLive and The Cotillion, according to Hartke.
She believes the art and artists themselves serve as powerful connectors, fostering cultural and economic growth specifically in the heart of downtown Wichita.
“A music scene is incredibly important to give us a sense of culture, give us a sense of place,” said Hartke. “I really believe music venues are one of the few spaces where you can have people from across socioeconomic sectors coming together in one place and enjoying art.”
Wichita’s art is as original as it comes, according to Hartke.
“Because we don’t have so many preconceived ideas of what music should sound like within our community people are allowed to create the art, they feel is true to who they are as opposed to trying to beholden to what will be the most successful monetarily,” she said.
Love echoed that sentiment, adding Wichita’s influences are so extremely different than other cities across the globe.
“When you have no one to compare yourself to, it’s easier to be different,” Love emphasized.
So, if you’re looking for a “perfect vibe” for creation or just a unique place to take in some tunes, listen to Hartke, Love and Shinyrib’s advice and experience what makes Wichita’s music scene #RelentlesslyOriginal.
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