For the weekend ahead, we searched outside the typical Mardi Gras fare and found several shows that highlight the diversity of the St. Louis music scene. Friday and Saturday are so congested with the best this city has to offer that we suggest laying low on Sunday this time around.
While some folks will go all in and get neck deep at Soulard, we found plenty of ways to avoid airborne beads and overpriced beer in the days ahead.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 24
Firebird 8-Year Anniversary Party
w/ Hell Night, Everything Went Black, The Gorge, Sweat Shoppe
7 p.m. The Firebird, 2706 Olive Street. $10-$12. 314-535-0353.
With Mardi Gras comes yet another birthday for the Firebird, the venue in midtown that first opened as the Bluebird before closing and rising from its own (thankfully metaphoric) ashes. The lineup offers up some of St. Louis' most inventive and prolific bands in hardcore, metal and whatever sub-genres fall between the two. Bring earplugs.
w/ Squircle the Destroyer, Hands & Feet
9 p.m. The Heavy Anchor, 5226 Gravois Avenue. $7. 314-352-5226.
Key Grip oversteps the jam band format by crossing into avant territory with its approach to improvisation. Headed by Brian Fleschute of the Pat Sajak Assassins, this amorphous ensemble performs with video projections as its collective focus, interpreting the images in real-time with loose songs that bend and gradually evolve.
w/ Black Panties, Mirror Mirror, Jane Wave, Lumpy and the Dumpers
7 p.m. RKDE, 2720 Cherokee Street. $7.
While the adage "girl group" is old and outdated (how did a gender ever become a genre in the first place?), Louie Louie does use the classic femme-fronted pop of the '50s and '60s as a foundation to build on. The Philly-based sisterhood brings bouncy riffs inside short, palpable songs that incorporate major surf vibes while hiding a hard edge. Lumpy and the Dumpers leads a mighty lineup pulled from St. Louis' seedy punk underbelly.
Mariner Album Release Show
w/ Pope Adrian Bless, Kiiing Jones, Ackurate, Rec Riddles, Tiny Glyder, Family Medicine, Doorway
7 p.m. Historic Lemp Brewery, 3500 Lemp Avenue. $5. 314-577-0405.
Mariner uses strong melodic leads as mortar for its dense compositions, setting an often somber tone to great effect. The band caps off a recent two week tour with this homecoming show that doubles as a release party for its new album Bury You
. With a diverse lineup that ranges from hip-hop to indie rock, this massive event seeks to raise funds to the benefit of the American Civil Liberties Union.
w/ Centipede, AndroBeat, Fire Dog, Prospect, Devon Cahill, DJ Whiz, Obviously Offbeat, Yaya Jonez
7:30 p.m. Foam Coffee & Beer, 3359 Jefferson Avenue. Free. 314-772-2100.
While this event is unabashedly a rally for mayoral candidate Tishaura O. Jones, the music on offer is too strong to not include on this weekend's list. From the malleable beats of Centipede to Letter to Memphis' Devon Cahill and her careful songcraft, Vote Woke is an intimate showcase of the city's breadth of performing artists.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 25
w/ Wick and the Tricks, Drag Queens Rock Mardi Gras
2 p.m. Bastille Bar, 1027 Russell Boulevard. Free. 314-664-4408.
Bearhug tends to come out of hibernation every Mardi Gras, and Soulard's most prominent gay bar is the band's cave away from home. The schedule is a bit staggered to ensure that even curious passers-by will get a taste of both Jade Sinclair's Drag Entertainers and the music on deck. From 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., expect drag performers at the top of every hour while Wick and the Tricks and Bearhug play at 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., respectively.
Beth Bombara Record Release
w/ Jack Grelle, Sister Wizzard
8 p.m. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Avenue. $10. 314-773-3363.
By Roy Kasten
From Americana: Meet the 2016 RFT Music Award Nominees
From her years working with Cassie Morgan as the Lonely Pine, providing instrumental and harmony vocal support, Beth Bombara has now emerged as one of our very best singers and songwriters, with her own style and instantly identifiable voice. Bombara can pull off a hard-strumming alt-country rocker as well as a ramshackle gospel rave-up or a crunching electric blues jam. Her 2015 self-titled solo album benefited from husband and bandmate Kit Hamon's virtuosity, but it's still that smoky, yearning, confident voice that's been winning over fans on tour across the Midwest and as far south as Texas.
w/ Town Cars, Jane Wave, Justin Johnson
9 p.m. El Lenador, 3124 Cherokee Street. $5. 314-771-2222.
Due to drummer Drew Gowran's recent booking efforts, live music has returned to El Lenador en masse. This lineup in particular hearkens back to the venue's short-lived heyday in 2011 and 2012 with Magic City topping off a raucous rock show on a Saturday night. Both Town Cars and Jane Wave have members from Foam's bar staff, so any notions of cutthroat competition on Cherokee Street should be dashed in lieu of strong communal vibes.
Mardi Gras Parade Day
w/ Funky Butt Brass Band, Al Holliday & the East Side Rhythm Band, Southern Exposure
2 p.m. Old Rock House, 1200 S. 7th Street. $10. 314-588-0505.
By Christian Schaeffer
From Soul/Funk: Meet the 2016 RFT Music Award Nominees
How did St. Louis exist so long without a true, bonafide New Orleans-style brass band? Since Funky Butt Brass Band came on the scene, it’s been impossible to miss the six-headed beast. At parades, at barbecues, at community radio festivals and especially at a certain oyster bar on Broadway, Funky Butt is a steady-gigging presence that references its Crescent City inspiration, but infuses plenty of 314-specific funkiness as well. Credit the oft-theatrical vocalizations of members Tim Halpin, Adam Hucke and Aaron Chandler for the band’s never-the-same-set-twice bravado, but recognize that “brass” is in the band name for a reason: These cats can blow.
w/ Paper Ceilings, Rickie and Aimee, Berry Barbie
8:30 p.m. Kismet Creative Center, 3409 Iowa. $5. 314-696-8177.
Under the moniker of Redeye, songwriter Guillaume Fresneau combines patient, slow-burning songs and charming acoustic jams alike for a varied set that highlights the human element in often formulaic folk. Made up of members from Dubb Nubb, Kenshiro's, Art School and Middle Class Fashion, Berry Barbie will perform live for the first time to open the show.