St. Louis, You Impressed Me
June 18, 2010
[show_avatar email@example.com align=left avatar_size=62] When all the show announcements for June started to surface, I was a little worried. Don’t get me wrong, I was excited to have so many quality bands making stops in our city, but I was worried about the time frame. Not even counting the RFT Music Showcase, there were six shows in an eight day stretch that were on my “must see” list. That’s a lot of music to squeeze into a short period and I was worried some shows would be poorly attended or the crowds would be low key.
Well St. Louis, you proved me wrong. I was able to make it to five of the six shows on my list and all of them were well attended with enthusiastic crowds. The RFT Showcase kicked off my two weeks of music. Every show I attended at the Showcase was an absolute blast. Hopping from bar to bar with a different band and a different crowd at every stop was just a lot of fun. I started the day off with friends from high school at the Rum Drum Ramblers set and ended the night at the Theodore set with new friends who I had only previously known through Twitter. This would be the first of several nights where I came home not only blown away by the music I witnessed, but also blown away by the enthusiasm of St. Louis music fans. The next day, when I saw Bobby Autry mention on Twitter that just about every bar sold out of wrist bands, that’s when I knew that the next few weeks could work out just fine.
My next show was just a few days later at Off Broadway. The Freelance Whales were in town with Peter Wolf Crier. I knew all about the Freelance Whales, that’s the band I was there to see. We got to the venue before Peter Wolf Crier started their set and about half way through the first song, I was so glad we did. The band consists of Brian Moen on drums and Peter Pisano on guitar. As I watched Pisano leap off his stool during the more raucous parts of their songs, songs that were completely new to me, I became a Peter Wolf Crier fan. While the show wasn’t a sell out, the crowd was more than respectable. When the Freelance Whales took the stage, it was clear they were in a bit of shock at the number of people who came out to see them on that Tuesday night. They started off their set with “Hannah,” and ended it by promising their fans they would come back soon with more songs.
The following Thursday found us at The Pageant for a sold out Black Keys show. Thirty minutes after the doors opened, the first level of the venue was standing room only and the balcony was close to it. Damn St. Louis, y’all got here early! The Black Keys, no strangers to sold out shows, proceeded to burn the place down with their raw, old songs and their funky new tunes. The band delivered and the crowd lapped it up.
Friday would lead us The Duck Room for the third night of KDHX’s Twangfest 14. There were three bands on the bill for Friday night: JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound, Those Darlins, and Detroit Cobras. We got there in time to see JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound, but we were there to see Those Darlins. I caught the tail end of their set the last time they played Off Broadway and I knew then that I would have to catch them the next time they were in town. They came out on stage wearing modified hospital gowns and toting PBR tallboys and shots of whiskey. It was Nikki Darlin’s first show back after breaking her arm and even though she was still wearing a cast, she came to party. She couldn’t play her baritone ukulele, but she was still able to lend a hand with the vocals and she kept the crowd guessing what kind of shenanigans would come next. I think the band lost some of the crowd, but those of us who were there for a Those Darlins show got the full experience!
Once again, we found ourselves at The Pageant. This time it was a Monday night with Dawes and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros on the bill. As a huge Dawes fan who had never seen them live, I was really looking forward to this show. We nabbed a spot and patiently waited for the music to start. By the time Dawes took the stage, a respectable crowd had formed. The floor was filling up and most of the seats and tables were claimed. St. Louis came out to hear a new band and we were rewarded. Taylor Goldsmith (guitar/vocals) thanked us for showing up early, again, seeming surprised at the turnout on a week night in a city they had never played before. The band lived up to our expectations, and judging by the young girls making eyes at Goldsmith at the merch table after the show, I think they even made some new fans. When Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros took the stage, the place was packed. Another sold out show in St. Louis.
The very next night was a sold out Mumford and Sons show at Off Broadway. This one sold out weeks before, catching many St. Louis music fans off guard and without tickets. My Twitter stream was full of reports of long lines at the venue nearly an hour before the doors were scheduled to open and several ticketless fans hoping to get in last minute. St. Louis’ own Cassie Morgan and the Lonely Pine were set to open the show and when they took the stage around 8:30, the venue was nearly full. Before Mumford and Sons took the stage, the crowd was electric. There was a buzz in the air and the air conditioner was already losing its battle with the crowd’s collective body heat. When Mumford and Sons walked out, the place erupted. One thing that surprised me about this crowd was how respectable they were of the music. It was a young crowd, but they knew this band. They were quiet when they were supposed to be quiet (no talkers?!!) and they went ape shit when they were supposed to go ape shit. Jumping up and down to the fast pace and shouting the lyrics right along with the band – there was a lot of energy in that room and we all could feel it. At one point, bassist Ted Dwane asked, “Is it always like this on a Tuesday??!”. Even though they were oceans away from home, I think they felt welcomed and appreciated. A classic St. Louis quality.
Five shows in seven nights in three different venues. All five were non-smoking and three of them were sold out. St. Louis, you impressed the hell out of me over the course of the last two weeks. You’re working hard to support local bands as well as nationally touring bands in locally owned venues. Your enthusiasm is obvious and I think the bands are taking notice.