St. Louis sits on a solid foundation of rock & roll (nevermind that pesky New Madrid Fault Line) and this week proves yet again that if you're bored in this city, you're boring. From the sneering voice of Chain and the Gang to bumming in the barroom with American Aquarium, the Mississippi river is flush with guitars. Maybe that's what those flood warnings were about?
MONDAY, JULY 27
Ike Reilly Assassination w/ Dan Johanning, Eric Moeller Monday, July 27 Off Broadway 8 p.m. | $12-$14 By Roy Kasten Like testimonies at the trial of rock and roll itself, the songs of Ike Reilly swear to tell nothing but the truth. It's all there: the heat, the rage, the wit, the violence and, mostly, the reckless rush of his rhythms and melodies and brilliant, fucked-up words. On this year's Born in Fire, the Illinois native (Libertyville to be exact -- you can't make this stuff up) swears he'll change, give up the lies, the lust and the perversions that have fueled his manic songwriting for some twenty years. But there's no chance he'll change. Reilly is a rock and roll recidivist, guilty as the music gets.
TUESDAY, JULY 28
Chain and the Gang w/ Shitstorm, Hoonbag Moonswag Tuesday, July 28 Foam Coffee & Beer 7 p.m. | $10-$12 From Chain and The Gang at Pig Slop Studios, 4/21/12: Review and Photos
In its second St. Louis appearance, Chain and the Gang succeeded in raising the roof. Besides Svenonius and Greer, the current lineup includes guitarist Brett Lyman, Madison Farmer on cool Danelectro bass, and drummer Fiona Campbell. Together, they lay down a spare rhythm with roots in garage-rock and soul. They could bring it up or down depending on the need. (It's amusing to imagine them being fined for errors or missed cues.) Over this musical bed, Svenonius testified, agitated and preached while breaking out some smooth dance moves. He didn't throw himself into a frenzy in the days of NoU, but who among us could after twenty years? Meanwhile, Greer gave her best Lydia Lunch wail while bopping around the stage. On songs like "Reparations," they would engage in call-and-response, resembling a politically-charged Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra. Rarely has onstage banter like "Everybody's going to die!" been quite this stirring. Or strange, for that matter.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 29
The Tallest Man on Earth w/ Basia Bulat Wednesday, July 29 The Pageant 8 p.m. | $25 By Christian Schaeffer Forget the endless Bob Dylan comparisons that hung around Kristian Mattson's neck like an Americana albatross; his one-man outfit the Tallest Man on Earth has taken folk idioms and exploded them on his latest, Dark Bird Is Home. Mattson recorded the basic tracks at home in Sweden, but colored them in with the help of various American studios and musicians. You can hear it in the songs: "Timothy" takes a coast-to-coast road trip across the country -- through Missouri and on to Arizona -- and casts an expansive, strummy sound with yearning, searching lyrics. It's a trick he pulls off again and again on the album, examining interior spaces with a wide-angle lens.
THURSDAY, JULY 30
American Aquarium w/ Radio Birds Thursday, July 30 Off Broadway 8 p.m. | $12-$15 By Roy Kasten From the RFT Music archives: It's within the realm of possibility that American Aquarium wasn't thinking about the opening lines of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot when it took a name. It's also possible that the band came by its working-stiff guitar epics and country-soul twang by means other than the study of Bruce Springsteen and Drive-By Truckers records. On paper, the sum total of this Raleigh, North Carolina band's influences shouldn't amount to more than a steady gig dishing the Southern-barroom rock on cheap-date night. But on record American Aquarium's way with a song -- deceptively literate and cool films of romance on all the wrong sides of town -- and sheets of piano and lap steel make it recommended listening for anyone who misses the alt-country heyday of the Backsliders and Whiskeytown.
Read on for more great shows in the weekend ahead. FRIDAY, JULY 31
Chicago w/ Earth, Wind & Fire Friday, July 31 Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre 7:30 p.m. | $74 By Christian Schaeffer Like the swallows at San Juan Capistrano, the band Chicago instinctively returns to St. Louis each summer. Hell, even the band's old lead singer Peter Cetera made a rare trip to town this season. And why not? Our fair city is always game for some horn-addled rock and top-shelf AM gold. The only question is: Who will join them on their yearly jaunt? It may be hard to top the co-billing of Chicago and Hall & Oates from a decade ago, but the 2015 bill will be worth the trip to the shed formerly known as Riverport: The mighty, deathless Earth, Wind & Fire will share the stage, bringing the number of onstage spit-valves to a record high.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 1
Black Fast Album Release Show w/ Crimson Shadows, the Lion's Daughter, the Gorge Saturday, August 1 The Firebird 8 p.m. | $10 By Daniel Hill Prepare yourself, lowly mortal: The towering metal monolith that is Black Fast will unleash its latest effort, Terms of Surrender, on an unsuspecting public at this show. The band's first record since signing with eOne Music -- home of top-tier metal acts including High On Fire, Overkill and Crowbar -- should be expected to pack the same barbed-wire-wrapped punch as its previous releases, only with sleeker production. Blistering leads, impressive technicality and searing, scorched-earth vocals abound. R.I.P. to your poor neck muscles -- the level and severity of head-banging induced will likely keep your chiropractor flush with cash for the foreseeable future. No plebs allowed.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 2
Joell Ortiz & !llmind Sunday, August 2 The Demo 6:30 p.m. | $15 By Daniel Hill Though he has never really broken through in a mainstream way, Joell Ortiz has remained one of the most consistent and capable underground rappers since he got his start in 1998. Ortiz is a member of the hip-hop supergroup Slaughterhouse, signed to Eminem's Shady Records, and in the past has seen brief stints with Dr. Dre's Aftermath label, Interscope, and even an ill-fated near-deal with Jermaine Dupri's So So Def imprint. Skilled in the art of battle-rapping, Ortiz was one of the first to respond when Kendrick Lamar's "Control" verse shook the entire hip-hop world in the summer of 2013 -- it could even be argued that his verse eclipsed Lamar's effort. Joining Ortiz on this tour is producer !llmind -- the two recently collaborated on their album Human, released on July 17.
Note: Though we wish we could, we can't feature every great show happening in town in just one post. Look for plenty more recommendations this Friday in our weekend shows post, peruse the St. Louis concert calendar for more ideas and let everyone know what else you're looking forward to seeing this week in the comments below. To be considered for coverage in RFT Music, submit show info online or drop us a line anytime.
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