by Bob Mcmahon
It's fairly common to see local bands get back together over the winter holiday season. With people taking time off work to come home to their families, it only makes sense to plan a reunion show somewhere around Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve. That said, it's still mildly shocking to see four St. Louis powerhouses from the '90s make their way back to the stage this year. Celery, Fragile Porcelain Mice, Not Waving But Drowning and MU330 are all playing shows before 2011 draws to a close. Here's why you should care:
Celery (with Vinyl and The Browncoats) The Firebird November 24
First show since: November 26, 2009 at The Firebird
After a good run from the mid '90s to the early aughts, alt-rock/pop-punk Celery called it quits until reuniting in 2008. Since then the group has played a handful of shows but hasn't graced the stage for almost two years, though singer/guitarist Phil Stendek has maintained an active solo career. Celery brings a heavy dose of silliness to their material in concert. The group will do anything for a laugh, whether it be inserting lyrics from local commercial jingles into their songs or adding intentionally awful scat singing and trumpet solos to the end of them.
But look past all the hijinks and you'll find four guys with serious chops playing whip-smart pop music. Some songs contain touches of funk, jazz or metal and it's to Celery's credit that these additions always feel natural. Still, one doesn't have to appreciate its musicianship to enjoy the ridiculousness that is a Celery concert. Fragile Porcelain Mice (with NIL8) Pop's December 16
First show since: December 27, 2008 at Lucas School House
Belleville quartet Fragile Porcelain Mice is celebrating its twentieth anniversary with its first show since 2008 this December. The band earned a devoted following and a spot on one of 105.7 The Point's first Pointessential compilations with its blend of hard rock that lands somewhere between post-punk and metal. Fragile Porcelain Mice stayed active as a creative unit through the middle of last decade, releasing its last album in 2004. By this time however, the group slowed down its concert booking.
Fragile Porcelain Mice playing a show on Thanksgiving in 2007
That's a shame, because FPM's heavy attack works best in person. Dave Winkeler's spidery bass lines and Mark Heinz's pummeling drum work lay a foundation for Tim O'Saben's metallic guitar washes and Scott Randall's distinctive descending shouts. The result is a punishing attack that ignites the pit. This isn't to slag on the group's fine studio output, which for the time being is available on the pay what you want model on its bandcamp site. But the stage is FPM's natural habitat. Not Waving But Drowning (with Machree, The Disappeared and Fister) December 31 Cicero's
First show since: October 17, 2009 at Fubar
Not Waving But Drowning burned bright during its too brief five-year existence, gaining a cult audience with its mathy screamo. The group has reunited a few times since disbanding in 2002, but this New Year Eve show will be its first in two years. NWBD sometimes lulls listeners into a false sense of security with a pretty guitar line before bursting into distorted lightning-quick riffs and full-throated screaming, but it isn't afraid of a sustained assault of straightforward riffage.
From Not Waving But Drowning's last show.
This reunion show is the place to be if you want to ring in the new year with a ringing in your ears, as the bill also features Machree, the Disappeared and Fister, making it well worth the non-existent price of admission. Mu330 with Cross Examination December 31 at The Firebird
First show since: June 11, 2011 at The Firebird.
Ok, local psycho-ska legends MU330 got its big reunion gig out of the way earlier this year, playing a rowdy set at the Firebird in June. But the version of MU330 playing this New Year's Eve show hasn't played together since 1994. That's right, trumpeter/vocalist John Kavanaugh and saxophonist Matt Knobbe are back in the fold for this show, which is mining extra deep for nostalgia. Expect the set to lean heavily on Press, the one album to feature this lineup. Also expect the band's powerskank to set off this type of pandemonium.
Mu330 in 2007