Following the holiday season each year, I end up on the prowl for good concerts to attend. Enjoyable shows are chances to reconnect with friends, be indoors, and cleanse my ears/brain/spirit of the cacophony that are the months of November and December.

Fortunately for St. Louis, the Art of Live Festival returns this week to multiple venues around town. I Went to a Show is thrilled to be a sponsor of this annual concert series organized by the Old Rock House team. This year’s lineup has something for everyone, so buying full festival wristbands means you can enjoy a ton of different kinds of music over several nights for just 30 bucks. Here are some notes to get you started:


Old Rock HouseTortoise w/ Hope & Therapy, 8 pm

You can call them a popular indie band from the 1990s Chicago scene and be correct. Or you can call them inventive, inspiring musical pioneers who were among the first to incorporate a spectrum of other genres into their brand of post-rock, and be more correct. Tortoise will kick off Art of Live at Old Rock House on Thursday, and you’d do well to be there. Hope & Therapy, spacey synth rockers from STL, provide support.

Off Broadway Bug Chaser w/ Lizard Police and The Stranger, 9 pm

Oh Bug Chaser. These hometown heroes are one of St. Louis’ very best bands to see live and in concert. With healthy doses of slam, glam, and jam, these dudes leave you feeling refreshed and grimy at the same time (and in a good way). This Off Broadway show is free because Art of Live loves you and wants you to be happy. The complete bill features Tulsa guitar monsters Lizard Police and The Stranger, another punk project of the prolific Matt Suttler.


Off BroadwayJEFF the Brotherhood w/ Chastity and Secret Club, 8 pm

Garage rock n’ roll gods JEFF The Brotherhood return to the scene of some legendary STL shows when they take the stage on Friday at Off Broadway. Noisey said their 2016 full length, Zone, is a “surfy, stoner punk rock album that should honestly come with a skateboard.” This duo absolutely wrecks, and the cozy confines of OB is just the place to witness the carnage. The entire bill looks rad with Chastity and Secret Club starting it off.

The Ready RoomBig Thief w/ Sam Evian and Scarlet Tanager,  8 pm

An appearance by Big Thief on 2017’s Art of Live lineup was the best surprise of the festival for me. Last year was this Brooklyn-based, Saddle Creek folk rock band’s best yet, with their 2016 release, Masterpiece, making critical waves across the country. Songwriter Sam Evian will precede Big Thief as direct support, while Scarlet Tanager‘s bright, poignant pop will serve as local support.

Old Rock HouseSplit Lip Rayfield w/ Muddy River Ramblers, 9 pm

Friday night is bluegrass night at ORH! Venue favorite Split Lip Rayfield headlines this powerful 2-band bill fresh off the release of the Kansas trio’s new album, On My Way. Our own Muddy River Ramblers starts things off.


Off BroadwaySmooth Hound Smith w/ The Sleepy Rubies, 8pm

If Friday is bluegrass night at ORH, then Saturday is folk n’ harmony night at Off Broadway. Smooth Hound Smith is Caitlin Doyle and Zack Smith, a Nashvillian duo and another Art of Live band that released a great record in 2016. Sweet Tennessee Honey is Smooth Hound Smith’s second full-length effort, and it’s chock full of tracks that necessitate foot-stomping and humming along. And the local support is strong on this show: LouFest alums The Sleepy Rubies (Emily Wallace and Ali Ruby) will warm the stage with soaring harmonies, South City snark, and a crack band behind them.

The Ready Room Overcoats w/ CaveofswordS and Sister Wizzard, 8 pm

Whispering about Overcoats started near the end of last year. The comparisons ranged from Lucius to Simon & Garfunkel. This is 70s folk rock woven with modern synth and tantalizing beats. And with just a single EP out, the world is still being introduced to this intriguing New York duo; but expect the 2017 musical spotlight to be trained on Overcoats. On Saturday, STL experimental beacons Caveofswords also performs along with emerging local looper Sister Wizzard.

Old Rock HouseMvstermind w/ LOOPRAT and Anthony Lucius, 9 pm

2016 was the Year of Muhammad Austin in St. Louis. The MC, writer, producer, and scene leader performs in the hip hop group, M.M.E., and solo as Mvstermind. When I first heard “Ain’t No Water in the Water Tower” off Austin’s newest and most stellar release, Cusp, I thought, “This is a real STL rapper.” It’s not my St. Louis story he’s telling, it’s his, and it’s the story of many kids who grew up on the North Side. Passion, talent, and potential are creating the perfect storm within Mvstermind. Come help him sell out Old Rock House on Saturday. The show also features LOOPRAT and Anthony Lucius.


The Ready RoomG. Love & Special Sauce w/ Ripe, 8 pm

Art of Live culminates on Sunday night at The Ready Room, when G. Love & Special Sauce return to our city with their fun, funk, and groove in tow. These dudes are the essence of fusion, playing laid-back blues with elements of hip hop, R&B, and more for the last two decades.

In closing, most of the bigger shows previewed above are running $18 to $20 for a single ticket. A full AOL fest wristband is just $30 and available here, making for the best concert deal of the season. We hope to see you out there!

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