There's no shortage of great national acts coming through town this week (check Critics' Picks if you don't believe me), but this is also a great week for local shows. And we're not talking your typical three-band bills or CD release parties, either. There are three local shows this weekend with their own unique twists. It's an embarrassment of riches, Radar Station-style. So slip on your traveling shoes, rented tux or geek glasses and get thee to one (or more) of these shows.
One of the first recommendations I heard for So Many Dynamos came from a friend who caught the band at a house party in Washington, D.C. The noisy, poppy rock quartet from, ahem, the "Illinois side of St. Louis" has traveled quite a bit in the few years it's been around. But even for a traveling act, SMD has audacious tour plans for this summer: The bandmates want to play in every one of the lower 48 states before fall rolls around. Even Wyoming, Utah and Delaware. And why would someone lock themselves in a van for three months to play South Dakota?
"Why not?" replies Dynamos guitarist Griffin Kay. "We all decided that this is something that we want to take more seriously. We've put a lot of time and effort into it. But we're ready to take it to the next level. We've all quit school, and we're going to quit our jobs. And we figured, let's play in every state other than, you know, Alaska and Hawaii."
Well, we all know that those aren't real states. Hawaii hasn't counted since they canceled Magnum P.I. , and I'm pretty sure Alaska doesn't actually exist. So touring the contiguous 48 is ambitious enough. In fact, just booking that many shows is more effort than most guys put into their band.
"A lot of [the booking] is done through the Internet," says Kay. "Or finding out people who book shows in one town from a booker in another, calling in favors and using the connections we've made over the last few years. We've got the first leg almost booked, just about every state west of the Mississippi River."
But they could still use some help with a few Western states and the second leg. Check out somanydynamos.org if you think you could lend a hand. They could probably use crash pads on the road, too, seeing as they're going to be living out of a fifteen-year-old van.
"It's a '91 Chevy van," confirms Kay, "and it's only got 77,000 miles on it." That "only" shows an unbridled optimism, don't you think? "We couldn't have taken our old van," he continues. "It would have died on us. So we just got a new van -- new to us, anyway -- and we're ready to pretty much live in it."
The tour kicks off with a show this Saturday, May 7, at the Hi-Pointe. Go and wish the gang luck. Maybe bring 'em one of those pine-tree odor-killers. They might need it by Arizona.
But maybe well-wishing isn't your thing. Perhaps you're more into limos, corsages and manual release. If so, your Saturday night would be better served by Pro-Vel Records' third and final Rock n' Roll Prom at the Way Out Club. "Third time is the charm," explains Pro-Vel's Nancy Catalina, "and you need to leave while the party is still hot." And hot it is: It's only taken three years for the rock prom to become one of the heights of the hipster social calendar.
To mark the final rock prom, Pro-Vel chose the theme "Aloha," so you can mix some Hawaiian gear with your vintage prom threads. And "everybody gets leied," as Catalina says (followed by a bicycle horn honking and a rim shot). The label also decided to use local talents for the music, so the Phonocaptors and the Electric (both Pro-Vel bands) will be playing the tunes.
Leaving the rock prom behind while it's on its way to becoming a St. Louis tradition might add fuel to the rumors that Pro-Vel is shutting down, but Catalina says that the label is just in a slow period right now. And, she notes, lots of people have asked to take the prom over next year. "There might be more than one prom next year," she says. "Maybe a prom and a homecoming."
Are comics cool again? While that most wedgie-inducing art form has had its highs and lows since the big respectability boom of the early '90s, the current trend of turning every superhero on the planet into a movie makes it safe for comics fans to hold their heads up high (until the Fantastic Four movie comes out, anyway). And Delmar's Star Clipper seems to be doing well, although that could be because the RFT's Night & Day and Music sections' comics budget could feed Africa.
But the folks from St. Louis' Low Key Comics don't want to just hold their heads up high: They want to bang them. That's why they're celebrating their debut as a comics company not in the normal way (a Magic tourney and a fevered Q&A with the actor who played Itchy in the Star Wars Holiday Special), but with a frickin' rock show. They'll be handing out a label sampler this Friday at the door of the Way Out Club, where the company will be hosting LA's Mercy Kiss and Indiana's the Fuglees, as well as locals the Gentlemen Callers and the Maxtone 4. As someone who is wearing a Superman T-shirt while typing this, I give the show a thumbs-up.