All right, folks. Weekend two.
Recap: For the month of March (and possibly longer/shorter depending on my funds, stamina, and sanity), I am seeing at least three local bands each weekend. The rules: the shows must fit a budget (who pays more than $8 to see a show?), predominantly local bands, and well-supplied with tequila.
I suppose the aim of this column is to describe an average St. Louisan's show-hopping weekend, but I must plead in the defense of an entirely subjective viewpoint. I pick these shows based on what sounds interesting, and I don't even come close to representing all of the tastes and knowledge of the people of St. Louis. I suppose I would just like to demonstrate how many different experiences can be had within the realm of our city's music, and present a small sample of the adventures to be had between the other 9-5; that is, pm-am.
In case it wasn't previously made clear: these aren't show reviews. This is a blog. I've decided to up the multimedia/social media/instagrammia/instant-gratification game with 60(ish)-second Youtube interviews with our local musicians. True to digital DIY form, the sound/video quality is not sparkling.
Friday, March 8th: SXSCity Night One at Off Broadway Price: $5 Average cocktail price: $4ish, plus free/cheap beers in promotion for the weekend-long event.
I missed one of Miles Long's many projects, the Royal Smokestacks, because the show started at 7:15, and I had no idea shows actually started so early. Miles (banjo player for Liquid Gold, Bloodbath & Beyond, and many other projects) was working the door at Off Broadway by the time I arrived, and forgave me.
As mentioned previously in our SXSC preview post, free beer from Schlafly, Urban Chestnut and Four Hands was on supply. As the night's rations ran low, one could always stock up outside from this selection:
I arrived in time to catch local darling Beth Bombara. Disclaimer: We are buds. Fun fact: Back home in Minnesota, Beth's last name is pronounced so that it rhymes with "Pantera." She is okay with the St. Louis pronunciation, which more closely rhymes with the way liberals pronounce "Guevara."
Beth rolls with a full band these days (husband Kit Hamon, long-time collaborator Karl from the Dive Poets, and brother-in-law/local shredder JJ Hamon), and her songs have gained complexity as a result. I have noted, "funkier rhythms, upright bass, and cool bangs."
Junebug, up next, would be the perfect genre-jumping party band for any event. My band had the pleasure of opening for Junebug at its CD release in January, which was a packed show. I was able to corner Donnie for the first of this post's 60-second interviews, seen below.
The Jump Starts were up next, a two-piece with singer/guitarist Justin Johnson and drummer Sarah Ross. I have seen this band play for a few years, and I continue to be impressed with Ross' improvement as a drummer. The band would be equally killer as a party band as Junebug, and have ingeniously figured out that two-member bands make more money per capita and travel in a smaller package.
Sleepy Kitty shook up the evening with an alternate sound -- Evan Sult had a broken hand, and Paige Brubeck led the first half of the set with a beautifully spooky, a capella cover of "Summertime" and other tunes with the aid of a loop pedal. When Sult and an additional guitarist joined Brubeck, Sult put all of his pent-up energy into vocals and light touches of percussion with his good hand. It was actually my favorite set from the band so far.
Advice: Carry crackers or a similar small snack on your person for a night of show-hopping, in case the spirits get to you and you feel a bit pukey. Not that I imbibed too much and felt pukey; That would be unprofessional.
After I sat out in the cool air and ate my crackers, suddenly revived, it was time for the Rum Drum Ramblers. I mentioned RDR in my last post as well, but this time I was able to snag frontman DoorMat for another snazzy interview, wherein he discusses the use of his many talents when his two fellow Ramblers go out on the road with Pokey LaFarge.
The show ended on a lovely, late note, with the Ramblers on the floor and unplugged. I went home and slept happily.
Saturday morning I discovered that someone had stripped my bike of all its moveable parts, leaving the frame outside like a ravaged skeleton. Instead of bummed, I felt like a properly hazed city-dweller. (Also, I was pretty bummed.)
On the plus side, my face hurt from smiling so much the night before, unless I was mistaking an oncoming sinus infection for evidence of mirth. "Onward!" thought I, "to the land of smoke and doorless toilet stalls!"
Saturday, March 9th: Han Ma & the Camaros, Rat Heart, The Scurvies, and Bass Amp & Dan-O at CBGB Price: Free Avg Cocktail Price: Cheap, possibly arbitrary
Han Ma & the Camaros is a sweet, sort of Rockabilly female-fronted band. The lead singer played a vintage Rickenbacker that made my mouth water. Everyone in the band wailed, and they covered Wanda Jackson, so they win at life.
Rat Heart played second. A garage-rock outfit from the Lou and Belleville, this is one of my all-time favorite bands.
One of my best-loved songs by Rat Heart is called "End of the World," but I think the singer is needlessly worrying when he says he "doesn't wanna be alone at the end of the world." The Big Muddy Records tee he was wearing comes in bright orange, so that everyone from the Big Muddy family can find each other when the world ends, colonize out somewhere in the Ozarks, and probably be generally happier as a result. I was going to take a picture of Rat Heart and make it into a Tiger Beat-esque poster for this article, with flowers and hearts and a phrase like "Punks you can take home to mom!" But then I realized I wanted Brice Baricevic (lead singer of Rat Heart, guitarist for Bob Reuter and bassist for Jack Grelle) to be friends with me ever again, so I did it to a picture of Bass Amp & Dan-O instead.
I downloaded an app during the Scurvies' set exclusively for this purpose. We live in the future!
Speaking of the future, here's a 60-second interview with Brice, describing the band's new seven inch. It is important to note that Mark Willey did the camera-work here, which is why you can watch it without feeling queasy.
For the Scurvies I have noted: "Power chords! Cymbals! Vocals you can understand!" And: "Basically this show makes me grateful I'm here and also thankful the Terminator hasn't come in and punched anyone in the face." I suppose there were enough leather jackets at CBGB for me to make that reference.
Advice: Carry earplugs on your person. That way, you can protect your ears. And when you get tired of feeling like you're underwater, take your earplugs out and have your brain re-blasted by the wattage at hand.
Also, dammit, tonight I forgot my crackers.
Lastly, around 11:30, Bass Amp & Dan-O took the stage. (By stage, I mean the awkward window-backed sound-shaft that is CBGB's venue side.) The band performed the admirable task of drawing the beer/sound-addled crowd back into the bar from the other side and the front patio.
My generally placid inner feminist objects to the song entitled "She Was Asking For It," but I know they're nice boys in real life, so I'll try to overlook it. Other new songs were more sex-positive, and they ended on their mission statement, "That's American." BA&D have some exciting news about their next album: It's being produced by Joe Queer (of the Queers, if you care to Google it). The sound quality of this vid is, um, imperfect, but this is similar to having a conversation at CBGB anyways.
And that's all for now from the dispatches of Hergetdom. Next weekend I am playing a show, so stay tuned and see if I go on hiatus or press onward beyond my own paltry musical efforts.
See also: -Ten Bands You Never Would Have Thought Used to Be Good -The Ten Biggest Concert Buzzkills: An Illustrated Guide -The 15 Most Ridiculous Band Promo Photos Ever -The Ten Worst Music Tattoos Ever