Having discussed the matter with folks in other cities, I'm pretty convinced that every scenester in every burg thinks their own scene is particularly paltry. Still, I'm willing to let the gripers have their day. Want to purge the bad feelings? Let's lance the boil.
We're going to have ourselves a little contest. (Thanks to freelancer Guy Gray for the suggestion.) Tell me what it is that you think makes the local scene so bad, in 100 words or less. You've been polishing this diatribe in beer-fueled bull sessions for years; now's the time to let it shine. Fire with both barrels. Beat it like a red-headed stepchild. Get medieval on its ass.
Here's a hint: "It sucks" won't make the cut.
I'll compile the best (or the worst) of them and run them here in the music section sometime before we all make up with the scene at the RFT Music Awards Showcase. It'll be like the Post-Dispatch's essay contest on the wonders of St. Louis (see last week's Unreal), only a whole lot more fun to read.
A prize? You don't need no stinkin' prize, other than the sheer joy of seeing your venomous screed published with your name astride it. Oh, the glory! Mother will be ever so proud. Just think: You'll be able to laminate the clip and show it to other people during arguments. "Yes, Claude, your reasoning is sound, your examples valid and your presentation pithy. But, as you'll see from this weatherproofed clip I carry here in my pocket, my opinion has been codified in print by the Riverfront Times. I expect an apology from you posthaste, you ignorant twit." You can probably use it to get laid. "Claudia, having so soundly thrashed your brother in the art of mental combat, I now desire to rut with you in the pantry. Remove your garments and meet me there posthaste."
Based on just about every conversation I've had at a bar in this town, I'm counting on a heavy turnout. Don't let me down. Remember: It's easy to fix a problem. It takes real strength to carp about it.
E-mail your entry to firstname.lastname@example.org under the subject heading "It Sucks!"
Speaking of bitching about the local music scene, I went and hung out on the Landing the other night for four hours by myself without drinking. (You did?) I did. (You be crazy. ) Damn straight. I don't recommend this activity to anyone; there's a reason those clubs offer dollar drinks. But even with all that sobriety, I found no overarching theme to the evening. So, instead, here are some snapshots from my scrapbook, "The Landing and Me."
Taking the MetroLink downtown, I find myself sitting next to a bespectacled young man with close-cropped red hair who is obviously insane. He's humming to himself, interjecting deep drum rhythms into the melody with flicks of his tongue. His right hand jerkily traces an "L" in the air, jumping up, down, right, left, up, all to the music coming out of his head. As he repeats the same snatch of song over and over again, I realize he's not a lunatic, he's in a marching band (I realize the two are not mutually exclusive). Once I'm sure he's not going to take out my throat with his teeth, I relax and enjoy his mini-concert. It turns out to be some of the better music I'll hear all night.
Any time before eleven, the red-brick streets of the Landing are pretty much empty. In fact, most of the big dance clubs are only open Thursday through Saturday and are only really hopping from midnight to three. The amount of money the clubs take in during those nine hours must be enormous, in case anyone is trying to think of a hip crime to pull off. The cavernous Rum Jungle seems more like an art exhibit than a club when I get there before eleven. Standing at the bar, watching a giant video screen displaying two women in lederhosen shaving a garden gnome while J-Kwon echoes through the giant, mostly vacant space, it seems like I might have stumbled into an installation called Capitalism Is Surreal.
The Big Bang piano bar, with its dueling pianos banging out sing-along hits for a soused crowd, is somewhere between a music venue and a comedy club. It's all in good fun, for sure, and it's a refreshing change of pace from the bass-heavy madness of the rest of the landing. There's a bachelorette party going on, and I've got to say: If you want to know what separates men and women, it's the difference between dueling pianos and a lap dance.
The crowds are finally roiling in Club Buca, where I scribble madly, trying to capture a perfect moment: People are getting down all over. Next to a dude dancing like his left arm is itching rhythmically and he has to scratch it, a couple slow-dances up against a pillar. The girl, in a pink half-shirt, is clinging to her beau like she's either in true love or the depths of a serious drunk. The guy is propping her up, moving to the music with his chin wedged into the crook of her neck. They're dancing like lovers at the prom. They aren't listening to "Endless Love," however. The song is Lil Jon and the Eastside Boyz' "Get Low," and Lil Jon is bellowing over and over again about "the sweat run down my balls." Isn't it romantic?