Photo via artist website
Rum Drum Ramblers celebrate ten years as a band this Friday at Off Broadway.
With a tidal wave of local album releases and the ten year anniversary of the Rum Drum Ramblers, there are more than enough reasons to extol the virtues of St. Louis music this weekend. Those still stuck in the past, specifically the mid-aughts, might want to check out Fubar's Myspace EMO Prom on Saturday night.
The next three days are heavy with metal, hip-hop and traditional Greek music. Here's your road map to the river city.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 10
w/ Ethik's Mind, Sigulda
8 p.m. Kismet Creative Center, 3409 Iowa Avenue. $5. 314-696-8177.
Only two months removed from PuFest, sonic sculptor Gel Set returns to St. Louis to lead a synth-heavy night with their ardent voice. By pushing stringent beats through a lo-fi filter, Gel Set applies a hard-edged industrial vibe beneath shimmery tones to great effect. Despite the cold and collected veneer, a playful spark of modest funk buoys the songs, owing to Gel Set's keen ability to control tone and direct focus. Released just weeks ago, new LP Body Copy
uses the road map set by 2015's Human Salad
but takes several hard turns into noisy, unnerving territory.
Rum Drum Ramblers Tenth Anniversary Show
8 p.m. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Avenue. $10. 314-498-6989.
By Roy Kasten
In being so obstinately behind the times, the Rum Drum Ramblers have always been ahead of them. Ten years after forming in St. Louis, the band remains at the forefront of a back-to-the-barrel-houses revival that shows no signs of fading. Led by the stinging guitar and tremulous growl of Mat Wilson, and featuring the slapping bass of Joey Glynn and the freewheeling harmonica, washboard and mandolin of Ryan Koenig (longtime members of Pokey LaFarge’s band), the trio is a swinging machine, tuned to the history of the blues but always leaning, lurching and rocking & rolling into the future. If roots music is to continue to thrive, it will always need bands like the Ramblers — even if few will ever match their minimalist fusion of spirit and skill.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 11
w/ Graduating Life, Just Friends, Mother Meat
8 p.m. Foam Coffee & Beer, 3359 Jefferson Avenue. $7. 314-772-2100.
Lobby Boxer is a band heard twelve different ways by twelve different sets of ears. As in, fans of emo will be sensitive to the band's more pop-sensible leads while tech heads will hear math rock that brings to mind video games of the early-nineties. Drummer Max Sandza's primal, driving beats come doused with ghost notes and subtle jazz leanings — a fast moving undercurrent for the syncopated riffs throughout. The trio takes an unstated approach to complexity in its songcraft, building pieces both humble and humbling in equal measure.
The Maness Brothers
w/ The Great Crusades (Album Release), Cara Louise
8:30 p.m. The Bootleg, 4140 Manchester Avenue. $10. 314-775-0775.
By Jeremy Essig
From The Maness Brothers Is One of This Year's STL 77
The Maness Brothers’ new self-titled album is the kind of record that activates multiple senses. As the Southern-fried blues riffs enter your ears, you can almost smell the sweat and spilled bourbon of a loud show on a hot night somewhere in Alabama. But before you confuse this for some type of modern-day Molly Hatchet, Jake Maness’ biting drums and brother Dave’s aggressive vocals and blues-indebted guitar provide a beautiful side of danger — imagine if Iggy Pop had moved to Jacksonville, Florida, to record Raw Power
. Together since 2012, the band could be looking at its biggest year yet, with another album set to record this summer and a tour that Jake Maness says will dwarf the band’s initial 30-show run in 2013.
Myspace EMO Prom
6 p.m. Fubar, 3108 Locust Street. $7-$10. 314-289-9050.
For anyone who (fondly) remembers meeting someone off Myspace at the mall, Fubar will transform itself into a portal of Hot Topic, Fuse TV and black hair-dye jobs in the bathroom. Tribute band Taking Back Emo provides a live soundtrack to the on-site emo salon, photobooth and caricature artist (yes, "Emo Dolls" are a real thing). Few theme nights bring this level of detail and dedication, and that's reason enough to look into this celebration of the mid-aughts, regardless of your Myspace or DeviantArt affiliation.
Path of Might Album Release Show
w/ Fister, Dracla
8 p.m. The Sinkhole, 7423 South Broadway. $7. 314-328-2309.
That Path of Might has mind share in a metal scene with Fister, the Lion's Daughter and Black Fast is proof-positive of the band's ability to bleed prog and sludge together. While the guitar and bass both play with tension, drummer Adam Lucz hammers heavy beats into malleable songs with a strong melodic sense. With Hallowed Gate Style
the trio ventures further into post-rock territory, sorting its aggressive, molten parts into almost soundtrack-esque dirges.
Pretty Little Empire
w/ Town Cars, Desire Lines
8 p.m. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Avenue. $10. 314-498-6989.
By Christian Schaeffer
Long seen as one of the bright lights in St. Louis’ indie and Americana scenes, Pretty Little Empire has kept its stage lights dim the past few years. The band released a trio of increasingly accomplished albums that married Justin Johnson’s heart-on-a-raggedy-sleeve lyrics and his bandmates' driving and atmospheric compositions, and each release sharpened the group’s ability to weaponize romantic tension in ways that can either elevate or devastate. The quartet is once again ready to take the stage — with new drummer Corey Woodruff behind the kit — and hopes are high that a new album won’t be far behind.
Tyler the Creator
8 p.m. The Pageant, 6161 Delmar Boulevard. $25. 314-726-6161.
By Daniel Hill
Odd Future founder Tyler the Creator has long been a polarizing figure, peddling shock and outrage even more prolifically (and prodigiously) than he does music and tall socks. He was banned outright from visiting the U.K. for three to five years in 2015 due to his outrageous lyrical content; he was arrested for inciting a riot at his sold-out performance at SXSW in 2014 after encouraging the crowd outside to rush past security guards at the gate; he infamously destroyed the soundboard at a Sunset Boulevard venue when the sound guy cut his mic off early in 2011. And that's just a smattering. But something funny happened with the July release of Flower Boy
, Tyler's latest: People have begun describing the rapper as "mature." It seems crazy, but the new album might be the artist's most cohesive to date, dialing back on the shock-rap tropes (for the most part, at least) in favor of a more introspective approach resulting in what some have interpreted as the rapper coming out as homosexual. Whether that's a put-on has yet to be decisively determined, but regardless, Tyler proves he's still capable of surprises.
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 12
3 p.m. Blanche M Touhill Performing Arts Center, 1 University Drive at Natural Bridge Road. $25. 314-516-4949.
Rebetiki Istoria tells the story of rebetika music, a Greek genre that parallels the blues in America. The name itself refers to several styles that disparately connect with poor urban musicians as the physical and spiritual glue. This night promises to explore the history with a focus on the early days of rebetika, as well as its resurgence and transformation in the 1960s.
w/ Dissention, Chalked Up
8 p.m. The Ready Room, 4195 Manchester Avenue. $5. 314-833-3929.
Souls' control of its own chaos invokes a kind of tunnel vision straight to pensive vocal leads and slow-burning melodies. The band's general sound throws out subtlety in lieu of extremity, and to great degree. With a level of polish befitting more mainstream metal, Souls maintains a distinct aesthetic with personal and approachable songs with plenty of layers therein.