Photo by Jemarco Britton
Mvstermind emcees a local hip-hop showcase on Friday at the Bootleg and headlines this Saturday at the Old Rock House.
The Art of Live Festival comes at a typically slow time in the music scene. Beyond the bustle of benefit shows and holiday tributes, January typically comes as a cold, barren wasteland for music where stray concerts barely peek out from a long stretch of gray skies and frigid wind. Enter 2017 and St. Louis is already heating up, never mind the schizophrenic weather.
For those who dare to brave icy roads in the weekend ahead, here are the best bets for music in St. Louis.
Friday, January 13
w/ Sam Evian
7 p.m. The Ready Room, 4195 Manchester Avenue. $10. 314-833-3929.
By Christian Schaeffer
M. Ward’s return to St. Louis this past June was a highlight of the summer concert season — he hadn’t performed his solo material in town since a 2007 opening slot for Norah Jones — but Ward and his band were nearly upstaged by an unassuming but engrossing opening act. The New York City-based quartet Big Thief was playing its first St. Louis show off the back of its debut Masterpiece
, and the interplay between singer/guitarist Adrianne Lenker and lead guitarist Buck Meek cut to the core of these creeping, bare and barbed songs. You probably saw Masterpiece
on more than a few best-of-2016 lists, and deservedly so, but the band’s live show allows the songs to bloom in real time.
w/ The Ultraviolents, Subtropolis
9 p.m. The Heavy Anchor, 5226 Gravois Avenue. $7. 314-352-5226.
While the story behind Buttercup's name likely involves some sort of in-joke that the public isn't privy to, it also subverts expectations. While some might see the group's press photo (a play on the Brady Bunch) as fairly non-threatening, Buttercup's sound bites like a wolf in otherwise sheepish clothing — a whimsical aesthetic befitting a folk or indie pop band hides infectious rock with proggy undertones.
JEFF The Brotherhood
w/ Chastity, Secret Club
8 p.m. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Avenue. $15. 314-773-3363.
If there was any question, the two Nashville natives that make up JEFF are indeed brothers who, in classic rock and roll fashion, started a band while still in high school. The duo has since become the centerpiece for Infinity Cat Recordings, known for its garage rock and pop roster that features Diarrhea Planet (also in town this weekend), Ed Schrader's Music Beat and Pujol. JEFF has been to St. Louis a number of times and the Art of Live Festival is merely the latest reason for JEFF to return to town. After all, only five or so short hours separate the River City and Music City USA.
Split Lip Rayfield
w/ Muddy River Ramblers
10 p.m. Old Rock House, 1200 South 7th Street. $20. 314-588-0505.
Don't scoff at the terms punkgrass or thrashgrass, just blame Split Lip Rayfield for getting its wires crossed when deciding to be a punk or country band in 1995. Not that its fusion of styles wouldn't rile the stray Metallica fan (or at the least the one attentive enough to trace the similarities). The lyrics here sneer at political correctness but the band is awfully self-aware — it once scored songs for Adult Swim's Squidbillies.
SLR comes as part of the Art of Live Festival only weeks before the release of its first full-length in nearly ten years, On My Way
Saturday, January 14
w/ Bruiser Queen, The Wilderness
8 p.m. Delmar Hall, 6133 Delmar Boulevard. Free. 314-726-6161.
It would be easy to assume that Diarrhea Planet is part of Schlafly Beer's Art of Live Festival, given Infinity Cat label mates JEFF the Brotherhood are also in town to headline one such event. Yet this raucous rock affair stands as the centerpiece of 4 Hands Brewing Co's five-year anniversary and offers a second and third dosage of garage-y goodness in Bruiser Queen and the Wilderness. Compared to the weekend at large, this show has the edge — you can't argue with free.
w/ Zado, JVCKSS, Eric Donte, Bloom
8 p.m. The Luminary, 2701 Cherokee Street. $10. 314-773-1533.
The Luminary's LAB series gives agency to musical acts by working in collaboration to transform the venue in a number of ways. Last year the Brainstems brought a Star Club-like party vibe to the space while other artists have offered a look into their songwriting process. ICE, formerly known as Black James, offers a curated concert she dubs an "Audio/Visual/3D/Emotional" experience.
w/ Anthony Lucious, Looprat
9 p.m. Old Rock House, 1200 South Seventh Street. $10 to $12. 314-588-0505.
By Daniel Hill
St. Louis rapper Mvstermind's constant ascent up the ladders of underground hip-hop continues unabated with a headlining performance at Old Rock House this weekend. The show is a part of the third annual Art of Live Festival, brought to you by ORH Presents, which sees artists both local and touring converge on three St. Louis venues from Thursday through Sunday. Mvstermind's non-stop hustle and tireless work ethic continue to pay dividends: In addition to his participation with Art of Live, the rapper has also managed to bring the massively influential hip-hop website/event company Team Backpack to the St. Louis area this weekend as part of its ongoing Off the Map series of events, which serve to highlight up-and-coming artists in cities across the nation. Team Backpack will come to town for a four-day takeover from Friday through Monday, including a local hip-hop showcase at the Bootleg on Friday, which Mvstermind will emcee. In other words, this weekend is a music lover's dream come true — especially for rap fans.
w/ CaveofswordS, Sister Wizzard
7 p.m. Ready Room, 4195 Manchester Avenue. $10-$12. 314-833-3929.
As Overcoats, Hana Ellon and JJ Mitchell offer up a masterclass of densely packed songs while making minimal use of warbling synth and a dash of reverb for depth. Most of the noise here is employed only to bolster the human voice, which sits high up on an aural pedestal. Electro-folk is now in the vernacular and we owe this NYC duo a great deal of gratitude.
w/ Air Credits, Insane Analog
7 p.m. Blueberry Hill - The Duck Room, 6504 Delmar Boulevard. $15. 314-727-4444.
Perhaps the most politically crass of Minneapolis' Doomtree collective, Sims points his sword at the political left. Being a white, self-proclaimed liberal himself, Sims takes umbrage with commercialized activism and tackles the more broad human experience while injecting stark, pointed claims at those who live complacent lives. But don't worry, these songs still have a beat that you can dance to.
Sunday, January 15
w/ Alex Kostka, Alex Stewart, Alex Boeckman
8 p.m. Kismet Creative Center, 3409 Iowa Avenue. $5. 314-696-8177.
This show is made up entirely of songwriters named Alex. While Pieschel and Kostka hail from Mississippi and Michigan, Stewart and Boeckman are relatively local, so this show likely isn't some crazed Alex touring troupe that comes to spread its Alex-brand propaganda. If anything, you have to appreciate the dedication to a gimmick if not the blend of synth and folk fare.