Magee's was just a neighborhood bar in a forgotten neighborhood, booking a few jam bands and the like, when regular Maggie St. Germain of the Good Griefs noticed that the Wednesday-night Stag special took place on a musicless night. So for the past couple of months, she's been booking local rock stalwarts to give the place some life.
It was an inspired idea, really: As arty types head ever downward in their efforts to swill a more working-class brew than their peers, Pabst is out and Stag stands as the new watery lager of choice (soon hipsters are going to be drinking pruno to establish their plebian cred). And the atmosphere at Magee's is warm and pubby, a nice change of pace from the sticker-bombed clubs that dominate the local rock scene (much love to them all).
Last Wednesday I caught Bug and Cash Gal with a comfortable crowd of people with interesting hair, bottles of Stag everywhere and rock in the air.
I'd seen Bug the week before, opening at the fantastic Head of Femur show at the Way Out Club (good call, Christian Schaeffer), and frankly, I'd been underwhelmed. But at Magee's I warmed to them. Lead singer Kris Wesling has the adenoidal shriek of Crucifucks lead singer Doc Corbin Dart, and it can make your hair stand on end, but it fits well with the bursts of noise that punctuate every song. Bass player Nathan Conner patrols the stage like the Buckingham Palace Guard marching band, if the big-hatted fellows ever decided to let down their hair and rock out. Bug can get a little repetitive, and you wouldn't want them to play your wedding, but they're a pretty good opener. (That could be the Stag talking.)
Carbondale's Cash Gal, though, just plain rocks. They play like Tenacious D without the irony, like bona fide graduates of Jack Black's School of Rock. Tongues hanging out, leaping onto speakers, grinding out fat guitar hooks and drummer Tim Beatty pounding out rhythms wearing only a Speedo -- these three guys dispense thick slices of rock & roll, incorporating everything from Black Sabbath to the Buzzcocks. They do the classic slow-and-quiet/fast-and-loud switch-up, and the quiet parts were mainly there to catch your breath between assaults, but Cash Gal brings the goods. "We drove two hours to rock you guys for 35 minutes, so listen up," singer/guitarist C.B. Leech said at one point. Listen up, indeed.
A few words of advice to the guys: You might want to drop the faux-British accents if you don't want an eventual Green Day comparison, and pick up the hard-to-find Ween album Craters of the Sac. You are so close.
Tonight at Magee's it's the Seven Shot Screamers, the Spiders and, of course, the Stag. St. Germain is planning a second Stag night Thursday at Lemmons. "It's my one-person war against the A-B empire," she says. Good luck with that, Maggie.
Being a firm believer that Thanksgiving is a vastly superior holiday to Christmas, I'm a lot more likely to be found getting maudlin in November than in December. So let me indulge in some holiday treacle by giving a Thanksgiving shout-out of gratitude to the RFT music freelancers, who have risen above and beyond the call of duty of late. In particular, Dean C. Minderman, who over the past few weeks has saved me more than Underdog saved Sweet Polly Purebred, deserves a big slice of turkey this year. But without any of them, I would be certifiably insane and you'd get to the strip-club ads a whole lot sooner. Thanks, guys and gals.
Radar Station Approved: Friday, November 28, the Way Out Club is holding a memorial concert in honor of St. Louis guitarist Bob Leach, who passed away last month. The funds will go to buy Leach a headstone. Go.