Wandering Eye #2

by Chad Eivins (Chizmo.TV)

So this will be an ongoing monthly series focusing on musical performances I’ve documented in St. Louis and the stories floating around them.

This installment is about a Britches performance from this past spring. April 15th was the date actually. Final filing for taxes and the Boston bombing were the topics of the day. By nighttime, the waxing moon phase was 27.49% full, leveling the lunacy slightly while I tried figuring out how to document another enactment of Mister Ben’s NOiSE series - something he had been doing for the past two years in the St. Louis area with an emphasis on harsh/weird/experimental/psych, noise music. This all happened on Cherokee street at the now defunct art space warehouse, Mushmaus.

From previous discussions with Ben I knew the rules for documenting the performances were simply that there were no rules. Music could be played however, wherever, and at really any length. I approached it with the idea that no performance would be captured the same way this evening. After band instruments, speakers, PA, audio and video recording equipment had all been carried awkwardly up two flights of stairs and spread out everywhere, the show started to take a natural form. Random corners were picked to play in and Britches began setting up for their set, which included building a sheet wall around them.

Discussing it with Mister Ben, he stated, “I booked them to play a set as Britches, or perhaps as Birches, who knew; I had zero idea as to WHAT they might play. The band was completely enclosed. On all sides. Noises were made in abundant, big rumbling waves, but anyone wanting to come close found only a white sheet.”

I had previously documented Britches this way before, however this time led to a last minute decision to dig through my arsenal of video tools and concoct a projection on them using a dual trace oscilloscope and mixer. The electronic beams moving along the graticule display were manipulated manually to the sounds Britches were making.

Mister Ben described the bands sounds as “Noises built up and up and up and dissipated like it never happened, blank as a sheet in real life and in our dumb perplexed brains. And that was the beauty of it. Even when you can't see them, or see where the hell they're going with things, you're hooked. How can you react? What emotion will you be loyal to? Oh, and you'd better figure it out before the set ends, lest you stand slack-jawed and dumb.”

There was no discussion with the band about what they would do or even if they wanted anything done with their set. Ironically or magically my projector stopped working about five seconds before their set ended. It was a thing of pure improvisation and mystery that I was fortunate to be connected to.

Click here for Wandering Eye #1

This Week In St. Louis: 9/23/13 - 9/29/13

TUESDAY, SEPT. 24


Darto (WA)
Tone Rodent
@ The Billiken Club / 20 N. Grand Blvd.
8 p.m. / $5 for non students / all ages

Darto blends a shoegaze punk experience with built-up post-rock meanderings. If that means nothing to you, just know that this is loud, powerful and wild sounding rock music. Tone Rodent is the resident St. Louis god of shoegaze. Bring earplugs.

WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 25


Tree Blood (MN)
Mancontrol (TN)
Eric Hall
The Funs
Chris Smentowski, Dave Stone and Joseph Hess

@ Blank Space / 2847 Cherokee St.
8 p.m. / $6 / 21+

This is south city variety hour with Eric Hall, The Funs and a trio of noise artists from the area. Tree Blood comes from Minneapolis with fierce punk songs and an overuse of guitar pedals. Mancontrol, from Memphis, crafts songs using looping pedals and photo-optic cells. You can't go wrong with this clashing of well-crafted punk and noise.

THURSDAY, SEPT. 26


Mac Blackout Bands (IL)
Shaved Women
@ CBGB / 3163 S. Grand Ave.
9 p.m. / $5 / 21+

Mac Blackout brings harsh jangle in the realm of garage rock. The band effectively sneaks in uncommon sounds outside its aforementioned genre and comes out sounding distinct and heavy. Shaved Women are local hardcore heroes.


Mezzanine Swimmers (NY)
Dusty Fingers
Catholic Guilt
Still and Moving Lines
(Tony Renner, Jerry Green & Mezzanine Swimmers)
@ Foam / 3359 S. Jefferson Ave.
9 p.m. / donations / all ages

Mezzanine Swimmers puts sharp beats through the grinder, bringing out an unhinged, noisy sound that moves to a rhythm. Dusty Fingers blends dark ambiance with a world of slime and sewers while Catholic Guilt sounds like the aural interpretation of your darkest fantasy. Something like that. These groups are definitely off the deep end.

SATURDAY, SEPT. 28

September 28th is one of the busiest nights of recent memory, and St. Louis is totally jammed with shows that night. Here's a short (but not complete) list of cool stuff happening that night, including details on the Wrong Division 5 Year Anniversary Show.

- The Jefferson International Rock and Roll Show (or The Benefit Show for Jeff Hursey) with Trauma Harness, Shut In and more. Starts at 2 PM over at the Fairview Elks Lodge in Fairview Heights, Illinois.

- Another day-time show happening over at Chromozone. Total Trash (MN), Outside World (IL) and Burrowss will play from 4 to 8 p.m.

- Catholic Spray is coming from FRANCE to play with Beauty Pageant and 32pc. Vintage Party Set at The Livery. This show is a freebie.

- A huge six band show is happening over at the Skatium. Punk rock and roller skates! Featuring Doom Town, The Funs, Maximum Effort and many more.

- Lord Snow and My Dad come from Chicago to play a late-show (read: after party to all the other shows) happening over at Foam. This shindig starts at 11 PM, and features local openers Laika and Red Squad.

and finally...

WRONG DIVISION 5TH ANNIVERSARY SHOW
Saturday, September 28th
@ Schlafly Tap Room / 2100 Locust St.
free / all ages / 8 p.m.

AHLEUCHATISTAS (NC)

YOWIE (MO)

GNARWHAL (TN)

GOOD LUCK AT THE HOG SLAUGHTER (MO)

CHIZMO.TV will do live visual projections throughout the night using cameras and video feedback.

Graham's Top Picks for August 2013 (videos)

Graham Matthews bounces from show to show with a handy-cam, collecting the odds and ends of music in St. Louis. There is absolutely no genre-bend in his coverage, made evident by an ever growing Youtube channel, which features thousands of videos of independent artists. Once a month, Graham sends us a list of 5 picks from his personal channel.

options R - Liaison at The Livery
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbmfx_0kzXY
Seeing options R perform live is like seeing a mythical creature like Bigfoot or The Loch Ness Monster. Here he blesses us with new song, Liaison, from his new record you can download here: http://dinglerecords.bandcamp.com/album/luxurious-gauze

Superfun Yeah Yeah Rocketship - Stephen and Graham! at Star Clipper
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0GMMaqqwQk
Superfun's first ever live performance of hit single, Stephen and Graham!

Bumping Uglies - Uglier Than You at Lemmons
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yglBlTEh8Nk
Flashy lights, mugging for the camera and local musicians getting their space invaded by The Bumping Uglies.

Animal Teeth - Don't Talk To Me at The Livery
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIKyTjXKLo4
A relatable performance. I also like to hide under blankets whenever someone tries to talk to me.

Stonechat/Lions Eat Grass - Split set at Bunk Bed, Fairview Heights, IL
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNuAWOqcxCA
Split sets are awesome. This needs to happen more, all the time. Filmed by Steve!

Steve's Top Picks for August 2013

Stephen Houldsworth attends more shows in Saint Louis than most, and he covers a huge range of sound. Be it hardcore or noise, pop or rock, Stephen comes equipped with his point-and-shoot. The guerilla style of photography that results is a dry and honest take on the underground, independent scene in St. Louis. Once a month, Mr. Houldsworth shoots us an e-mail with his recent favorite photos.

Rainbows & Unicorns: The magical guitar of Pat Cook.

Somebody Scream: Adam Lesh and Chuck Scones of Holy Doldrums show us how to scream at The Livery. (8/30/13)

The Kids Rock Out: Some of the usual suspects rock out to 3 of 5 at Foam. (8/7/13)

Turnt Up: David Burnett of Beauty Pageant keeps playing as the keyboards get turned over at The Livery. (8/10/13)

Ugly Masking: The Bumping Uglies were scary at Lemmons. Not to mention the fish. (8/3/13)

Recommended Shows This Weekend 9/13/13 - 9/15/13

FRIDAY, SEPT. 13


Farms (MN)
Merlin Monroe (MN)
Vacation Dad (MN)
Adult Fur
Wamhoda

@ Chromozone / Ask a freak
9 p.m. / donations / all ages

If you don't know where Chromozone is at - go down Cherokee, turn on the illest, noisiest street and look for the house with people scampering in and out. All three Minneapolis acts share members, so expect a round robin of turbulent noise all night.

Mail The Horse (NY) & Falsetto Boy do a subversive folk night over at Lemmons on Gravois. The polar-opposite to Chromozone's noisy, synth heavy show. Pick a vibe, stick with it.

Lantern, Black Panties and more stink up the Heavy Anchor with unwashed hair and week old sleeveless t-shirts. Or bloody leather jackets. Something like that. Great line-up for garage rock fans.

SATURDAY, SEPT. 14


Sur (TX)
The Night Grinder
Beauty Pageant
Animal Teeth

@ Blank Space / 2847 Cherokee Street
9 PM / $5 / 21+

Sur brings the kind of feedback-laden rock that fits right at home in Blank Space's musty basement. The music's as dim as the lights down there. Three bands chock full of St. Louis cretins will open the night with a mix of rock, noise and some aborted fetus from the two.

Not that we encourage day drinking, but if you're into that sorta thing you can catch good bands all day Saturday and Sunday right outside Blank Space (2847 Cherokee Street). Bring your drunk ass inside for the show with Sur on Saturday night. They're from Texas.

For avid pasta fans, there's a 30th Anniversary Bash going down for Mangia Italiano. Pat Sajak Assassins are playing, among many others.

SUNDAY, SEPT. 15


Thou (LA)
Cloud Rats
False
Fister

@ Fubar / 3108 Locust Street
8 PM / $10 / ???

Thou do a dark, ugly sort of sludge that feels like taking a shovel to the gut. Without too much posturing or bravado about the whole thing, Thou really kills their own little metal sub-genre and there's little else to compare them to. If sludge isn't quite your thing, the local line-up provides other blends of metal.

Wrong Division 2013: Two Compilations for Free Download


In March and, most recently, June of this year we asked a few local artists and bands from abroad to contribute songs for two digital compilations. Both of these albums are free to stream or download in any format you desire. Thanks for all your support.

Recommended Shows This Weekend 9/6/13 - 9/8/13

FRIDAY, SEPT. 6


Heavy Horse
Alan Smithee
The Mercs
Key Grip

@ Fubar / 3108 Locust Street
8 p.m. / $8 / all ages

Heavy Horse is modern post-hardcore, taking influence from the Refused and the like. Key Grip improvises a psychedelic mish-mash under projections of visual unease. Alan Smithee is the new duds from Tony Saputo (Lye By Mistake).

SATURDAY, SEPT. 7


Little Big Bangs (Album Release)
Corrigan Bros
Skarekrau Radio
The Union Electric

@ Plush / 3224 Locust Street
8 p.m. / $10 / 18+

Little Big Bangs saturates St. Louis every month with a Fugazi-esque revival punk rock. Endlessly active, their energy's through the roof. The album release comes punctuated with a solid helping of south city sounds. No-wave mingles with dark folk rock and punk. There's an after-party show with Bunnygrunt over at Lemmons (5800 Gravois), too.

If you're more privy to free gigs, check out The Cell Phones from Chicago over at Schlafly Tap Room with Accelerando and Popular Mechanics.

SUNDAY, SEPT. 8


Calvin Johnson (of Beat Happening, Hive Dwellers)
Jake Leech
Raglani

@ Apop Records / 2831 Cherokee Street
8 p.m. / $7 / all ages

I can't stand Calvin Johnson. I think the dude is a creep. Look at the video above. Jake Leech and Raglani are both stellar, so that's enough reason to go. I suppose you could bask in Johnson's creepiness or at least pat him on the back for his work with K Records.


Much Worse (MN)
Cardiac Arrest
Ruz

@ Bonerville / Ask A Punk
9 p.m. / $5 / all ages

Much Worse jets through hardcore sets with super quick, sharp songs. Nasty vocals permeate the whole mess, giving a guttural feel with visceral voice. Ruz is a parody (or tribute?) to Rob Ruzicka, the singer of Cardiac Arrest. At the end of the night, Cardiac Arrest will play while Ruzicka moans between each song, "I'm too old for this shit."

The Bob Reuter Memorial Show
I won't write another eulogy for Bob Reuter, that's been done enough. Whether you're hitting up a show already or not, try to make it over to the Casa Loma Ballroom (3354 Iowa) to pay your respects to a St. Louis legend (it's all for a good cause, too.)

Album Review: Little Big Bangs CD

Little Big Bangs | Self Titled Full Length
Released September 2013
Self Released

If the Little Big Bangs are anything they’re unadulterated, they’re pure. This album is reagent quality punk - an uncompromised reflection of who the band is and where they’re from. From mocking the quintessential St. Louis question about high school with a lyric like, “Where’d you learn to read & write,” to angry indictments of police cruelty & hypocrisy, this band is a no bullshit experience.

The hallmark wall of fuzzy guitar noise & static that defines the Little Big Bangs hasn’t been compromised, yet the recording offers a surprising level of clarity, bringing the energetic riffs and harsh vocals to the forefront. Ryan Macias, Eric Boschen, and Lucy Doughtery all take turns leading this layer cake of garage punk noise, held rigidly together by Drew Gowran.

Every riff rings out free of added fluff, pretentious solos or drawn out songs. The fifth track I Don’t Wanna Talk About It, starts out with a much thinner than usual bass-led sound that gives way to a punctuated dissonance of scratching and squealing. It’s all abruptly cut off before a racing climax that doesn’t let up until the final note rings. The seventh track Lucky is testament to the quality of this album. The song first appeared on their Easter Egg demo, yet it would be wrong to say we’ve heard it before. The song itself is unchanged, but it sounds brighter and new. Like all tough guys they even have a soft side, which they certainly keep hidden (get the album, you’ll know what I mean).

The Little Big Bangs’ self-titled album is full of raucous fun and energy. It’s everything rock ’n’ roll should be with none of the bullshit it shouldn’t. Personally, I can’t wait to get in the car with this album - it’s the kind of music you drive real fast to.

Review by Eli LaChance

Check out an interview with Little Big Bangs done by Joe for RFT.