This week yields plenty of stops from artists all across the board including the Tontons, Tame Impala, Pretty Lights, Barenaked Ladies and Minus the Bear. Keep reading for our critics' recommendations for the week, and as always, remember to peruse our concert calendar for more options.
Née Monday, October 7, 8:30 p.m. w/ The Tontons @ The Demo - $10 By Blair Stiles From the 2013 RFT Music Award nominations: Made up of eccentric dresser Kristen Dennis, synth/guitar/Native Sound magnet David Beeman and drummer Mic Boshans, Née fills the electro-glam void in St. Louis' dance circuit. Adorned in hip ensembles, Dennis commands her place at the head of Née with the cool exterior of a Brooklyn denizen. That big-city countenance and flamboyant vocalizations garner as many Merrill Beth Nisker (stage name: Peaches) comparisons as they do to put Née in a class all its own. Dennis shies away from Nisker's penchant for snicker-worthy imagery in favor of crafting danceable meditations with enough soul to bring the past back to life -- if only to dance with it for a night before waking up the next morning to brave the present.
Kid Congo Powers Tuesday, October 8, 8 p.m w/ Pink Monkey Birds, the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion @ Old Rock House - $15/$18 By Jenn DeRose Kid Congo Powers first played in St. Louis with the Pink Monkey Birds at CBGB's in 2010, alongside Bob Reuter's Alley Ghost. There, Powers charmed those lucky enough to be in attendance with his enormous Cheshire grin and a growling rendition of the children's song "I Found a Peanut," a dark warning about the dangers of eating food off the ground. The band returned the following year to play Off Broadway, staggering covers of the Gun Club and the Cramps -- two of Powers' previous groups -- between his more recent compositions, which stood mightily alongside the classics. His current work with the Pink Monkey Birds bears significant traces of his pedigree, with languid, spooky psychedelic riffs and bouncing basslines that cause uncontrollable shaking of the lower extremities. The unusual combination of tremendous talent and a refusal to take themselves too seriously makes Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds one of the most consistently fun acts to catch live. The stars must be in unusual alignment, because this type of tour is a rare one -- two incredible acts that make sense together on one bill. The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion is raw and bloody, the perfect headliner for this show
Tame Impala Tuesday, October 8, 8 p.m. @ The Pageant - $25-$30 By Jaime Lees Tame Impala is the recording project of Australian dream pop super-genius Kevin Parker. Known for his work with Pond and Melody's Echo Chamber, Parker embraces his deeper psychedelic side when constructing Tame Impala songs. With critically acclaimed releases like Innerspeaker and last year's Lonerism (Modular Records), Parker has been exploring new territory. His new, heavier sound lands somewhere between the Flaming Lips and later era Beatles, including spacey laser zaps, thick harmonies and chugging blues riffs. On Tame Impala's breakthrough album, Lonerism, each song bleeds into the next and between layers of trippy atmospherics and interludes of clean, bright vocals. Parker also squeezes in bursts of shimmering blissed-out pop, producing mind-expanding extended grooves. Free your mind, man.
Roland Johnson Wednesday, October 9, 10 p.m. @ Beale on Broadway - free By RFT Staff The minute Roland Johnson walks onstage for his semi-regular gig at Beale on Broadway, you know you're seeing a performer. The man drips charisma; all the way through his white leisure suit and down to his polished shoes. He can do the James Brown, the Sam & Dave, the Bobby "Blue" Bland, the Otis Redding, and he does them all, no matter how familiar, no matter how many times he's sung them, like the joint is on fire and his lungs are filled with kerosene. He's a growler, a belter, but cool enough to keep his musicians, featuring veterans of the Mighty Big Band, from jamming off their charts. A lot of bands in St. Louis play the Stax/Volt and Motown hits. None drives them home like Roland Johnson and Co.
The James Hunter Six Thursday, October 10, 8 p.m. @ Old Rock House - $22/$25 By Roy Kasten Forget the stone-strolling rhythms, the fog-horning horns, the uncanny mono mix (courtesy of Daptone Records maestro Gabriel Roth), even the vigorous songwriting. Minute By Minute, the James Hunter Six's 2013 album, is defined by the voice of its leader. And that means it's defined by the loss Hunter has known, specifically the death of his wife Jacqueline in 2011 after an agonizing struggle against cancer. Hunter sounds like he has wept and howled a thousand nights, and he probably has, yet the ravages of his voice infuse even pre-soul juke-rockers like "Chicken Switch" with impossibly hard-earned power. May this music soothe his soul as much as it will yours. Opener Jesse Dee was barely off training wheels when the headliner released his first album, but Dee knows how to steer a classic R&B sound.
Danny Brown Friday, October 11, 7 p.m. w/ Pretty Lights, A-Trak @ Chaifetz Arena - $25-$37.50 By Cassie Kohler From this 2013 show preview: Danny Brown is definitely one of the most unique rappers today. The "Adderall Admiral" captivates with original similes and metaphors, all with a sprinkling of humor. His individuality stems to his abused drug of choice as well; Brown has admitted to using the ADHD medication in order to write songs. He is considerably older for a recent break-out in the rap game (Brown is 30), but that only makes the lessons of drug dealing, crime and addiction more believable. Heed the lessons Brown speaks.
Barenaked Ladies Friday, October 11, 7:30 p.m. w/ Whitehorse @ Peabody Opera House - $56-$195 By Sarah Fenske From this 2010 show review: With his leading man looks and quick patter, Robertson had the crowd eating out of his hand. (In the band's less-than-two-hour set, he managed to work in references to Ted Drewes' frozen custard, the St. Louis Walk of Fame, the Moonrise Hotel, the Arch and the Loop's own Booster Cafe -- and cobble a few of the above into a cleverly improvised rap.) Lovably hangdog Kevin Hearn handles the keyboard, the guitar, the accordion and the occasional lead vocal ("Another Heartache") with heartbreaking earnestness. And drummer Tyler Stewart and guitarist Jim Creeggan have a real Laurel-and-Hardy thing going on: Stewart is one of the most expressive -- and funny -- drummers you'll ever see, while Creeggan is capable of using his rangy body to immense comic effect.
Nicoffeine Saturday, October 12, 8 p.m. w/ Good Luck at the Hog Slaughter, The Conformists @ Lemp Arts Center - $5 By Joseph Hess From "The Best St. Louis Noise/Experimental Shows: October 2013": Nicoffeine filters German industrial into palpable grooves with booming bass riffs. Sparse yells lend a human voice to an otherwise oppressive wall of static and cymbals. The drumming goes beyond mindless bashing with jazzy emphasis; its pitter-patter comes with careful nuance. Guitarist Soheyl Nassary bounces from stage to showgoer, forcing down the fourth wall in favor of gripping attention. The trio really just parties on stage, reveling in a massive wash of feedback and off-mic screams. Nicoffeine never comes off contrived, and its songs carry heft and several layers. Tasty, salty layers of nasty noise. Arrive on time for local openers (and recent recipients of Best Band Name in our Best Of St. Louis issue) Good Luck at the Hog Slaughter. Frantic chords over throaty yells make for contemporary punk music that comes charged by mid-'80s emo. Busy drums flutter under the constant whirl of super-melodic guitars. You might recognize members from past and present endeavors, including Falsetto Boy, Forteana, There's a Killer Among Us, Muscle Brain and Airport Elementary School.
Minus the Bear Saturday, October 12, 8 p.m. w/ INVSN, Slow Bird @ Plush - $20 By Michael Dauphin From this 2010 show review: On paper, this night seemed like an ideal night to stay in, recuperate from the weekend and avoid the unbearable mugginess and St. Louis heat. But the sold-out crowd was having none of that: Last night's Minus the Bear show was one of the most successful - and sweatiest - shows the venue has hosted in the past year. With a line stretched about 70 yards west of the venue, St. Louis was clearly ready to sink their teeth into Seattle's premier prog-pop/indie-rock gurus.
The Angry Samoans Sunday, October 13, 8 p.m. w/ Against the Grain, The Swingin' Dicks, Ultraman @ Fubar - $14-$16 By Jenn DeRose The Angry Samoans rode the first wave of LA punk into the hearts of pissed-off suburban kids everywhere. The snotty, impertinent style of this influential group colored every variety of American punk to follow, from the earliest era of East coast hardcore to the pop-punk that conquered the nineties (NOFX, for example, could not have existed without the Samoans). Angry Samoans songs are cherished punk anthems, sung in unison at parties with the enthusiasm most Southern-ish midwesterners reserve for Lynyrd Skynyrd campfire singalongs. Subject matter ranges from goofy to totally wrong, with one of the stranger songs from 1983's Back From Samoa ruminating on the fate of Hitler's penis (perhaps it lies underneath a rock?). "Light's Out" is a ridiculously short gem -- 55 seconds long -- about eye-gouging, straddling the fine line between stupidity and brilliance and capturing the essence of punk completely: "Everything looks better when the world is black/grab a fork, make the first attack." The Angry Samoans eased the pain of generations of grounded teenagers, who sing "My Old Man's a Fatso" in cathartic bliss while begrudgingly doing the household chores and fantasizing about the day they can leave home.
Motion City Soundtrack Sunday, October 13, 7:30 p.m. w/ Bayside, What's Eating Gilbert, State Champs @ Plush By Allison Babka Once upon a time, the future freaked Motion City Soundtrack out. Now, more than a decade after vocalist Justin Pierre sang that sentiment on the band's debut album I Am the Movie, MCS's future looks pretty good. With five albums in its arsenal and an ever-growing appreciation by critics and music luminaries, the group finally has found its balance between punk and pop. Though MCS played St. Louis just a few months ago during the Vans Warped Tour, the band's sound will be better appreciated in a cozier venue like Plush. A stellar lineup of bands is opening for Motion City Soundtrack, but of the three, don't miss punk foursome Bayside, which opened for Alkaline Trio in June.
Note: Though we wish we could, we can't feature every great show happening in town in just one measly post. Look for plenty more recommendations this Friday in our weekend shows post, and peruse the St. Louis concert calendar for more ideas any time. Let everyone know what else you're looking forward to seeing this week in the comments below, and send show tips any time to firstname.lastname@example.org to be considered for inclusion on these lists.
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