Photo by Jason Gonulsen
Ha Ha Tonka performs this Friday night at Off Broadway.
We get it, Pointfest is canceled and music lovers, grunge fans or not, are blasting "Say Hello 2 Heaven" and "Black Hole Sun" for the foreseeable future. This weekend comes with both figurative and literal clouds overhead, yet we'll still walk through the rain to get to where we need to be.
Remember, MythBusters said that walking through the rain will get you less wet than running. Take that as a metaphor for "drive safely."
FRIDAY, MAY 19
8 p.m. The Pageant, 6161 Delmar Boulevard. $37-$47. 314-726-6161.
By Roy Kasten
As the leader of the Shins, James Mercer doesn’t seem like an asshole, but the longtime bandmates he canned prior to 2012’s Port of Morrow likely have a different take. His declaration of sole artistic responsibility for the Shins’ music was a weird salting of wounds, and the meandering album itself suggested Mercer — who has recently opened up about his struggles with depression and anxiety — needed some time off. Five years later comes Heartworms
, a more musical, melodic and personal release, and one of the best sets from the Shins since Chutes Too Narrow
. Mercer flirts with power pop, synth pop and even classic Shins indie pop, with lots of predictable low-key, lo-fi touches, but mostly those catchy sparkles and peculiar rhythms that have long defined the best of Mercer and the Shins’ music.
Ha Ha Tonka
9 p.m. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Avenue. $15. 314-773-3363.
By Christian Schaeffer
St. Louis audiences have long been in the thrall of Ha Ha Tonka, the West Plains, Missouri-bred band that has turned roots and Americana music into something wild, big-hearted and all-encompassing. The band’s near-annual Thanksgiving shows at Off Broadway are as much a part of that holiday as college football and parade floats, but the group’s long-awaited new album, Heart-Shaped Mountain
, is another reason to celebrate. The quintet sees this collection as its version of a love album, which Brian Roberts’ expressive delivery is able to sell.
w/ Pat Sajak Assassins, Nest
9 p.m. Foam, 3359 South Jefferson Avenue. $5. 314-772-2100.
By Christian Schaeffer
If Hollywood’s endless onslaught of superhero movies has taught us anything — that’s a big “if” — it’s that a little collaboration among super-powers can have world-saving, box-office-breaking effects. For south city quartet the Vigilettes, a little superhero schtick goes a long way to describing their all-for-one appeal; the four women in the band share singing and songwriting duties, creating a sound that’s indebted to Breeders-style guitar rock while leaving room for some experimentation. The group’s debut 4,3,2,1
came out in the fall, but guitarist and singer Caitlin O’Toole was teasing new material in conversation as early as last year. “We already have a lot of new songs that we’ve already been playing live,” she said. “There is definitely gonna be another release – maybe an EP.”
w/ Bald, Blight Future
9 p.m. Kismet Creative Center, 3409 Iowa Avenue. $5. 314-696-8177.
While country and gospel bands have a monopoly on bars and even storefronts in downtown Nashville, there exists a seedy underbelly miles away from Music Row. Watcher is part of an embedded hardcore scene that has no stake in Music City USA, opting to upend the bedrock beneath the twang-flavored dirt. The band blends frenetic shredding with poly-rhythms for songs that spread an aural sickness that leaves its listener ailed with slacked jaws and ringing ears. The dark tonality at play might trick the ear into thinking this is some mutation of metal, but the band sidesteps an aggressive approach in lieu of something more nuanced and altogether strange.
SATURDAY, MAY 20
w/ Cure for Paranoia
8 p.m. The Ready Room, 4195 Manchester Avenue. $30-$35. 314-833-3929.
The Bones are back. And that's not just a catchphrase – since Layzie Bone returned in 2014, the group has been more prolific than ever with a new record on the way and all original members in tow. Even Krayzie Bone and Bizzy Bone have been hard at work with Bone Thugs, a fraction of the collective that recently released the single "Coming Home"
with a full-length coming down the pipeline later this summer. Now that the band is officially back together and more active than ever, expect this show to bank on more than nostalgia for "Tha Crossroads."
w/ Mathias & the Pirates, Coalition, Ackurate, Bobo Bryson, Rec Riddles, DJ Tape One
9 p.m. Cicero's, 6691 Delmar Boulevard. $7-$10. 314-862-0009.
That Granite City native Jonezy can swerve from jagged cadence into a smooth flow proves just how much skill he has at bending and flexing lyrics around a multitude of beats. While he sometimes speaks in abstracts, tit for tat with his shape-shifting songs, the content has enough hooks to grab onto. Plainspeak is present, as is riffing on everyday life, but Jonezy's approach ultimately delivers his thoughts clearly with a soulful vibe. Mathias & the Pirates stands out on a stellar roster of busy acts with a funky and subtly psychedelic flavor of hip-hop.
w/ Rick Brantley
8 p.m. Fubar, 3108 Locust Street. $25-$28. 314-289-9050.
Literal renaissance man Keifer Sutherland might be best known for his work in TV and film with notable roles in The Lost Boys
, Stand By Me
, A Few Good Men
among many others. But he has also been a cattle rancher, competitive cowboy and even a record label owner. While one of those looks like it does not belong, Sutherland's passion for performance fills the many hats he wears — ten gallon one notwithstanding. So what kind of music does the face of Jack Bauer, the subject of an entire meme generator, play? Sutherland offers a set of somewhat country-leaning rock songs that wouldn't be out of place in a cowpunk dive bar with thin, patchy carpeting where the musty smell of nicotine from a bygone era before the smoking ban still lingers.
w/ Mike Watt and the Jom and Terry Show
8 p.m. Old Rock House, 1200 S. 7th Street. $20. 314-588-0505.
Sure there are a few gaps in the Meat Puppets' 35 year tenure as a band, but maybe those breaks were essential at sustaining the Kirkwood brothers' distinct take on alt-rock, which pleases both Americana and punk palettes in equal measure. There lies a consistent flow throughout the band's studio efforts, and tracing its songcraft through the last three decades reveals a creative force that rarely dips from absolute peaks. Mike Watt apparently lives on the road as he comes through St. Louis yet again, this time as an opening act with his Jom and Terry Show in tow.
The Pageant, 6161 Delmar Boulevard. $30-$40. 314-726-6161.
By Thomas Crone
From Pokey LaFarge: 'The Best Is Yet To Come'
These days, LaFarge is primed for... something. He might not be at a tipping point, exactly, as digital music distribution has changed the way careers are built, promoted and sustained. But with the release of his seventh studio album, Manic Revelations
, this week, the remainder of the calendar year is starting to come into a crisp focus, with a lot of that time spent on the road, the venues a little larger than in the past and trips a bit longer. Now a veteran of multiple tours and the lifestyle that accompanies them, LaFarge, 33, is contemplative, if not downright contemplative-plus.
SUNDAY, MAY 21
Vernacular String Trio
4 p.m. Vintage Vinyl, 6610 Delmar Boulevard. Free. 314-721-4096.
We have St. Louis' intertwined music scene to thank for the unlikely collision of Vernacular String Trio's members. Young violinist Alex Cunningham moved from Milwaukee to St. Louis for school and quickly became a force in the experimental noise community through a stint of monumental solo shows and a successful tenure as booker for SLU's Billiken Club, where he brought in Jandek and many other performers. Tracy Andreotti not only teaches cello, but she plays with the Metropolitan Orchestra of St. Louis, flexing a strong classical background and resumè. Bassist Josh Weinstein hosts All Soul, No Borders
on KDHX, a jazz show that cozies up to the avant-garde. How the three met and found a way to coalesce the way they do is a story for another time, so you'll have to settle for seeing them speak exclusively through strings this Sunday.