In recent months, St. Louis has undergone a local music renaissance — and not in the sense of having more popular bands or even break-out acts. Benefit shows and fundraisers for organizations such as Planned Parenthood and the ACLU have become the norm, showing that much of the local music scene actively supports social justice and helping those less fortunate.
The only problem we see with the weekend ahead is the fact that no one can physically attend every single show.
FRIDAY, MARCH 24
6 p.m. Fubar, 3108 Locust Street. $12 to $15. 314-289-9050.
By Daniel Hill
Between Mac Sabbath and Okilly Dokilly coming to town earlier this month and this week's upcoming performance by the Grindmother, gimmicky metal is apparently all the rage in St. Louis. And that is just fine — especially when your gimmick is as hilarious and weirdly adorable as that of the latter. The Grindmother is the 68-year-old mom of Canadian grindcore band Corrupt Leaders' vocalist. In 2014, just for a laugh, the extreme metal group posted a video on YouTube titled "My Mother recording grindcore vocals" in which the sexagenarian pushed her vocal cords to the limit with a series of blood-curdling screams over the band's blastbeat-laden, breakneck-speed music. Unsurprisingly, the video went viral, prompting the band to release an EP with Grindma on vocals, and eventually to split the lineup into its own side project. Since doing so the Grindmother has handily eclipsed the popularity of Corrupt Leaders — the latter has gone mostly silent while the former bursts eardrums with the shrieks of the elderly.
w/ The Knuckles
8 p.m. Washington University Mallinckrodt Student Center, 6445 Forsyth Boulevard. $25. 773-225-8527.
A little known fact that local music fans may be better off not knowing is that many shows happen at the Gargoyle in secrecy, closed off from non-students and the city at large. KWUR, the student-run radio station at Washington University, connects with St. Louis once a year for its KWUR week — a rare series of concerts that are open to the public and highlight both local and nationally renowned acts. This taste of the WashU experience does come at a premium ($25 for Chicago rapper Joey Purp) but the lineups are proof positive that someone involved is hip to the hype and ready to share.
8 p.m. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Avenue. $25-$35. 314-773-3363.
By Roy Kasten
Rodney Crowell knows country archetypes — the lucid melodies and the witty or heartbreaking rhymes — but in the rewarding second act of his career, long after he left the charts, he’s learned that his own life is all he needs to find emotional truths. Mentored by the likes of Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt, the Houston Kid, as he once titled an album, has returned this year with Close Ties
, an Americana-blues masterpiece that’s at once wholly universal and wholly personal, even when he’s singing with the Civil Wars’ John Paul White, Sheryl Crow or ex-wife Rosanne Cash. Crowell isn’t just a songwriters’ songwriter. He’s as vital to this moment as any country craftsman could be.
SATURDAY, MARCH 25
ACLU Street Fest
w/ Robot Bike, River Kittens, Monkh & the People, Backwash, Brother Lee & the Leather Jackals, The Knuckles, Mariner, Travis Page, Elliott Pearson & the Smithereens
11 a.m. Sasha's On Shaw, 4069 Shaw Boulevard. $10. 314-771-7274.
This ten act street festival for the benefit of the American Civil Liberties Union takes place in the same neighborhood that Vonderitt Myers Jr. was killed by an officer less than two months after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson. While the placement may be telling, the diversity of the music on hand offers a wide ranging sample platter of homegrown talent from hip-hop to hardcore and no-frills rock and roll. Organizers are asking for $10 but the admission is technically free so the city at large should feel welcome, regardless of how fat or skinny their wallet may be.
CBGBBBQ Benefit For Planned Parenthood
w/ The Vigilettes, DinoFight!, Buttercup, Middle Class Fashion
7 p.m. CBGB, 3163 South Grand Boulevard. Free.
Members of the Vigilettes don their colorful and heroic alter egos in an attempt to fund Planned Parenthood of St. Louis, the chosen beneficiary of this show. We would be remiss to omit the fact that every act technically features a local female musician and that each band on hand represents a different genre.
8 p.m. The Pageant, 6161 Delmar Boulevard. $28.50. 314-726-6161.
By Christian Schaeffer
It seems unlikely that Conor Oberst will ever be fully separated from his musical identity as the force behind Bright Eyes and the music he began making as an emotionally vulnerable and musically ambitious teenager. Well into his mid-30s, Oberst has tried on a host of other musical mantels, but last year’s Ruminations
, released under his own name, was him at his most spare — guitar, piano and voice painted the outlines of those songs. Oberst revisits many of those tracks and offers a few more on the new Salutations
, this time enlisting the Felice Brothers and legendary drummer Jim Keltner to give a rustic, full-hearted performance. This rare St. Louis date, with the Felice Brothers in tow, should channel that same energy.
w/ The Potomac Accord, Le'Ponds
9 p.m. Schlafly Tap Room, 2100 Locust Street. Free. 314-241-2337.
It's true that Eric Hall has been nominated for several RFT Music Awards in years past, but music media in general still hasn't invented the right word to categorize his output. Hall rests somewhere between a producer and an ambient artist who, at first glance, appears aloof but truly takes an ultra-analytic approach to performance. Maybe if there was a category for "Best Bandcamp Page," we could adorn the man with several medals and possibly a commemorative plaque. For now, we have to settle for sharing his prolific and often groundbreaking output which can be found here
w/ Lyfe Jennings, Kindred the Family Soul, Avery Sunshine
8 p.m. Peabody Opera House, 1400 Market Street. $55-$102. 314-241-1888.
From working with Santana to contributing to soundtracks for Tyler Perry films, Musiq Soulchild — born Taalib Johnson — is a renaissance man. Certain performers thrive on outside factors to build an aesthetic, but Musiq transforms whatever space he occupies into a forum for personal art. The Soul-focused lineup sets the vibe for the night, which culminates in a celebration of Soulchild's work, made both pure and unfiltered.
SUNDAY, MARCH 26
w/ Langen Neubacher
8 p.m. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Avenue. $10. 314-773-3363.
Besides her propensity for pissing Morrissey off, Kristeen Young has much to offer from the past twenty years as an alt-rock artist with a goth aesthetic that gracefully leaks into songs. Her unyielding approach avoids common contrivances often found in a style that appears, at first glance, to be fashion first. Yet Young never comes off as pedantic or cliche, sidestepping pitfalls while remaining wholly expressive, and ultimately, human.
7 p.m. Old Rock House, 1200 S. 7th Street. $45-$100. 314-588-0505.
Peyroux's back story is romantic enough to warrant maybe a mini-series or TV show based on her start as a musician. She spent much of her teenage years as a street performer, moving from the busking life to that of professional musicians in a few short years. Her jazz-infused songs are sticky in that they've picked up all the odds and ends and musical influences from the past two decades of traveling and performance.