Saturday Night in St. Louis: Dark Meat, Detroit Cobras, Ha Ha Tonka -- and An Observation



After catching the flu and being run-down all last week, I managed to drag myself out of the house on Saturday night, only because some out-of-town friends were here visiting. I ended up at the Billiken Club, where I caught the tail-end of Bunnygrunt's set; the Blondie cover of "One Way or Another" was choice. I stayed for the beginning of Dark Meat -- the trumpet-driven noise abstraction flattened me like a sonic wind tunnel (and sounded great), but I was feeling antsy so left. There were about 50, 60 people there.

I then hightailed it over to Lucas School House, to catch the end of Ha Ha Tonka. Those Springfield boys just keep getting better and better, thanks to their constant touring -- whether they were churning out some good ol' Ozarks country, Kings of Leon-meets-Whigs country-rock or the epic, harmony-laden single "Caney Mountain." (It must be noted that the band's harmonies were superb; that really separates the group from any of its peers.) The place was packed, actually, with lots of enthusiastic fans, which was fantastic to see.

Next up was Off Broadway for the Detroit Cobras, whose Stonesy garage/girl-group hybrid was executed precisely. After the other two shows, though, the energy level at this gig was a lot mellower, which was somewhat of a bummer. Having not seen the 'Cobras before, I don't know if that languid atmosphere was normal or not, but I found myself growing sorta bored mid-set.

Anyway, I ran into the Midtown Thieves at the show, and they said the Helium Tapes CD release show was also well-attended. The Bluebird said that about 100 people showed up for KRISTEENYOUNG.

The aim of this post is to point out something: That's five clubs/venues with decent amounts of people seeing local music and touring bands. (That didn't even count the Eagles at Scottrade or the tons of other shows that night.) I honestly expected to show up at one of these venues and find it crushingly empty; with so much competition, that tends to happen in town, just because the pool of music fans is limited.

But everyone was out and about seeing music -- and the energy was palpable and (generally) postiive. St. Louis' reputation as a live music town has been bruised and battered for so long (in the eyes of people in and outside of the city), but maybe it's time to shed that idea of what we think we are -- and look at reality, which has steadily turned into something much, much different and vibrant.

-- Annie Zaleski

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