Brother Francis and the Soultones will perform at Firecracker Pizza & Beer on Saturday.
With 139 performances across eleven stages over two days, ShowcaseSTL 2018 will be one for the history books. Yet if you’ve looked at the lineup and thought, “Yeah, I haven’t heard of many of these bands,” you’re not alone. In fact, it’s by design. The festival is the RFT
’s tribute to what’s happening right now in the local music scene, and for every headliner or longtime local favorite, there are many more up-and-comers. In addition to the 77 acts in this week’s cover story, here are ten under-the-radar shows to see now ... and later boast you saw them before they blew up.
SATURDAY, JUNE 16
Brother Francis and the Soultones
6:30 p.m. at Firecracker Pizza & Beer (4130 Manchester Avenue)
Underneath all that smooth-moving R&B is a space rock band begging to get out, but maybe it’s in Brother Francis and company’s best interest to keep their wilder side in check. After all, it’s the underlying tinge of psychedelia that makes this crew one of the most engrossing and intriguing bands in St. Louis ever to wave that funk flag.
7 p.m. at Trops (4104 Manchester Avenue)
With its wild, polyrhythmic rip and circuit-bent surf riffs, Subtropolis offers a tectonic shifting of massive rock. The way this band glues its layers together with a subtle sleight of hand distracts from the fact that all that sound is coming from only two people. Born from the remains of Popular Mechanics, a now-defunct St. Louis favorite, this duo grinds out a syncopated mass of jerky jams.
8 p.m. at Taha’a Twisted Tiki (4199 Manchester Avenue)
Hailing from “Devo” Mill, Wax Fruit casts a large shadow, with towering sounds built from lush synths and pointed beats. The melodies come howling from the other side of a long and winding tunnel, picking up detritus along the way. The most human element, the vocals, blend in the wash of warm, warbling bass and keys. They're a pop duo for the next millennium.
9 p.m. at Gezellig (4191 Manchester Avenue)
SirEddieC’s sound may seem alien. But he’s just ahead of the curve: The Belleville-based rapper was dropping references to Ric Flair long before Offset and Metro Boomin went platinum with the Drip. He’s since moved on to other, more obscure references, all pulled from a big bag of tricks that include a buoyant flow and straight-up, solid beats.
10:30 p.m. at the Gramophone (4243 Manchester Avenue)
By flexing in the space between trap and R&B, Teacup Dragun can swing gently and still hit like a bag of bricks. Whether on record or on stage, she isn’t performing as much as she is living her life. She’s the realest of the real.
SUNDAY, JUNE 17
Subtle Aggression Monopoly
5:30 p.m. at the Bootleg (4140 Manchester Avenue)
With FarFetched labelmates such as Damon Davis, Caveofswords and Mathias & the Pirates, it can be hard for a duo like Subtle Aggression Monopoly to stand out. After all, “subtle” is right there in the name. But discounting the longtime dream team of P.O.E.T-j and C@$P3R would be selling short one of St. Louis’ best hip-hop acts, period.
6:30 p.m. at HandleBar (4127 Manchester Avenue)
Cherokee Moon takes the sweet songcraft of Hal Pascale and amplifies every latent note, magnifying the melodies while adding a depth of sound. Bandmate Brit Lockhart introduces a subtle edge, bringing with him years of work with experimental outfit Ish. The result is songwriting that shines, whether the band is out in full force or Pascale takes the stage with little more than her voice.
7 p.m. at ParlorSTL (4170 Manchester Avenue)
Vocalist Nanyamka Ewing stomps the cabaret to bits and counts on the rest of her band to glue the pieces back together. The result is statuesque rock & roll that contorts around strong vocal leads and a forceful backbeat. The mash-up of genres is not without bumps and bruises, but that’s by design.
8 p.m. at Layla (4317 Manchester Avenue)
As one half of Dubb Nubb, Delia Rainey is one of St. Louis’ top folk producers. Although her twin sister Hannah isn’t present, Delia deals with the phantom limb by sweetly singing songs that stand just as tall. For ShowcaseSTL, Dee Bird will flex her solo songwriter muscle before a planned relocation to Chicago.
9 p.m. at Gezellig (4191 Manchester Avenue)
Lately, Kaleb Kirby can be seen as the singer and synth player for A Leaf in the Street, a Technicolor dream pop trio, even as his role as both drummer and architect behind jazz juggernaut Animal Children gives the impression that he can do anything. So, as a solo artist, he does. Working with pre-recorded material and other machinations, Kirby descends on the drumset with an abstract approach to percussion.