Garage Party with Mikal Cronin & D. Watusi @ The Gargoyle

Gather ’round, children, I’ve got a lesson for you. Here’s what you need to know to have a good time at The Gargoyle, the student-run venue in the basement of the Edison Theater building on the campus of Washington University.

Image Courtesy Julie Dill

A Monday Night at The Gargoyle

First off, note the picture above this sentence. That’s what it looks like if you get to The Gargoyle late.

1.  It is not cool to show up early to The Gargoyle.
2.  I am not cool.

Last night, I showed up uncharacteristically late (doors opened at 8:00 and I sauntered in at 8:30, because even though Mikal Cronin’s self titled debut album got an 8.1 from Pitchfork, and it’s KWUR Week, it was still a Monday night show, and the last time I got there early I waited outside for an hour point five before the show started.  A half hour after doors open seems to be a sweet spot.
Image Courtesy Julie Dill

Hair It's At

Garage pop opener D. Watusi took the stage promptly at nine o’clock. These Nashville cats are pretty rad. The internet says lead singer Dillon Watson is also in a band called  The Kindergarten Circus, which sounds adorable. I was charmed by their infectious rhythms, their retro Wurlitzer, and their casual energy. I was not able to make out the lyrics, but I assume they were righteous. Which leads us to…
The Third Thing You Need to Know About The Gargoyle: The giant speakers on either side of the stage? They’re about three feet in front of the stage. If you stand up against the stage (at the left or right), the speakers are behind you, therefore the sound you get is pretty muffled, having bounced off the ceiling or the bodies of the people behind you (or you’re catching what comes out of the performers’ monitors. It’s not cool). The sweet spots for listening and the sweet spots for seeing are not in the same spaces. Aim for the center, four feet back, and find some short people to stand in front of you.
Image Courtesy Julie Dill

Wurlitzer, man.

Not to be one of those people obsessed with really long songs, but D. Watusi did an 8-minute number, I think it was called “Little Heller,” (a nod to the late Jay Reatard?) and it totally wailed.  It was cool to see a garage band with an obvious affection for kitchy classic rock. The organist (Christina) was flawless. And DW’s Levis were perfectly tailored.
I don’t know how many people at the show were already familiar with Mikal Cronin, but after the audio assault of D. Watusi, they were certainly eager for the rocking to continue. When the band assembled on stage and Cronin himself lifted his acoustic guitar in front of his chest to sing the opening ooohs of “Is it Alright,” the audience was slightly hesitant, but then the rocking continued, and didn’t let up for the next hour. There were some sore necks in Clayton Monday night, and maybe some happy chiropractors, Tuesday morning.
Image Courtesy Julie Dill

Mikal Cronin @ The Gargoyle

Live, the band loses a few of the details that make Mikal Cronin’s self titled album (seriously, buy it, Pitchfork ain’t lying) a delight. The tambourine, flute solos, and prog touches are left out, but the crunchy noise and soul of the music remains. Plus, the loud makes up for anything lost. They played all but two of the songs they’ve recorded, plus a brand new song (“Am I Wrong”) and a nice, obscure cover, “(I’d Go The) Whole Wide World.”
After the cover ended, Mikal started to tell us they had merch to purchase, but then remembered they did not.When the final note of “Gone” finished, the applause and screaming was that of at least 45 more people than were actually in attendance. The band slipped offstage and the audience started chanting “One More Song! One More Song!” in a decidely uncool manner, to the point that Mikal Cronin felt obliged to come back out on stage, step up to the microphone, and say, apologetically, “I don’t know what to do. We don’t have any more songs.”  And then he ran away. SO CUTE.
Image Courtesy Julie Dill

Mikal Cronin

I can’t wait for Mikal Cronin to come back, especially after more of y’all get hip to his record.
Set List
Is It Alright
You Gotta Have Someone
Am I wrong (new)
Get Along
Again and Again
Green and Blue
Whole wide world (cover)
We’ve never officially covered a concert at The Gargoyle before this one. I am filling you in on all this, careful reader, because Saturday, April 21st, The Mountain Goats will help bring down the last night of KWUR Week. Only 75 tickets are available for the public, and they have to be purchased at the door the day of the show. $15. I’m telling you now, you want to be one of those people. No venue in St. Louis is more controversial than The Gargoyle, but if you can have a good time there, the rest of the city is CAKE.

Other Tips
  • You park on the street on Forsyth, between weird painted lines that tell you where to parallel park. It’s kinda weird.
  • Wash U is a dry campus. There is not, and will never be, any alcohol at a show. That’s cool.
  • However, the venue also does not provide water in the room where the music is. If you get parched, you have to go out, upstairs, and squat in front of the bubbler like a grade schooler, or use correct change or Bear Bucks to buy a Coke.
  • Wash U has Coke machines, though, unlike every other university in St. Louis. 20 points to Wash U.

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