This weekend El Lenador officially became the epicenter of the South St. Louis music scene. It's a place where locals go to see other locals. There's a tight sense of community, but that's not to say that it feels exclusive or exclusionary. It's a place where bands seem to look out for and support each other.
Friday night brought a packed show with Bloody Knives, Bug Chaser, Tone Rodent and Trauma Harness. A small fight broke out in the crowd when a few rowdy jerks tried to start a mosh pit, but the offenders were quickly shown the door. The crowd, undaunted, quickly went back to enjoying its collective evening.
Saturday night featured the album release party for Catholic Guit with guests Magic City and Shaved Women.
Shaved Women got the crowd head-bobbing around. It was clear that this new band had already made an impression because much the crowd seemed to already know much of the music. They were enthusiastic. And not just supportive friends, but as real fans. When bass player John Birkner fell to the ground and began worming his way across the floor, audience members just smiled and stepped over him and his trailing cord.
Magic City plays a different show every time it plays out. Faithful followers can never be sure what kind of performance to expect. Sometimes it's a psychedelic freak out, sometimes it's like funky R&B, sometimes it's like a basement rock show, sometimes it's like gospel church. Magic City is delightfully baffling. During its set, each member is separately interesting, and it's hard to know where to look.
The place fully filled out in time for Catholic Guilt. The crowd was watching the band but the band was watching each other, mostly playing in tight circle. It wasn't unfriendly; it was actually nice to watch. They were groovin'. The band's sound is difficult to pinpoint, but it ranges from muddy atonal drone to Talking Heads-type hiccups. It all blends into one extensive, building jam.