Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sunday - LouFest 2012

The Flaming Lips. Photo courtesy of Nicole Pruess.
Unfortunately, I missed the first two acts of sunday. I got there just as Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin was starting. This band was originally from Springfield, Missouri and their catchy pop rock was irresistible. The songs were well-written and sounded great outside.

Wild Nothing, who just released a new album this week, was a last-minute replacement. They had a very Cure-inspired sound. Surprisingly, they were one of the best bands to dance to.

Imagine a pop band from the fifties and sixties. Imagine they have all of today's pedals and effects. That band is Cults, one of the groups I was most excited for this weekend. Originally a two-piece, they bring in several extra members for live shows. Singer Madeline Follin delivered an impressive vocal performance and the rest of the band was spot on.

Dawes brought kinda-folky-alterna-rock to a whole new level this weekend. These truly gifted songwriters quickly became many people's new favorite band. Unfortunately, they were cut about ten minutes short due to the rain. Uh oh.

It began to really pour. I mean, seriously pour. Lightning taunted us in the distance. A large group of us were waiting to see Dr. Dog. After twenty minutes of horror, the rain stopped. Fifteen minutes after that, the band started. "The rain is falling / It's after dark," begin the lyrics to "Shadow People." It was perfect. Their groovy, strange rock was everything I had dreamed it would be. It made me forget I was dripping wet.

"Fuck the rain," shouted Wayne Coyne, the charismatic frontman of the Flaming Lips. If you don't know anything about the Flaming Lips' live performances, let me say this: it will blow your mind. You will see things that you didn't think were possible. Magic stardust shot out of a dragon's ass will rain on you from above. It's a bit of a religious experience. Needless to say, they didn't disappoint me. They never have. Although their set could have been longer had it not been for that treacherous rain, I'm not complaining. There is no happier way to end a weekend of great music than with the Flaming Lips.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Saturday - LouFest 2012

Sleepy Kitty. Courtesy of Nicole Pruess.
For the third year in a row, LouFest has been the end of summer highlight for many St. Louis music fans. The well-organized festival presented one of their best lineups yet. Unfortunately, I missed several bands (sorry Little Barrie, Pernikoff Brothers, and THEEsatisfaction), so I'll just talk about what I personally saw.

The festival was kicked off by local favorite Sleepy Kitty. Since this band has only two members, they needed a little help from their friends. Several guests appeared throughout the set. Their fun, energetic music was a great way to start the weekend. At a Sleepy Kitty show, anything can happen. They may play songs from a seven-inch released that very day. They might play a song about the Batman ride at Six Flags. They could throw handmade shakers at the audience. Anything can happen.

King Tuff played most of the tracks from their 2012 debut during their set. The garage-punk band made up for their lack of songwriting prowess with high-energy rock. This made for some fantastic head-banging that my neck complained about the next day. Totally worth it.

Cotton Mather was definitely the wild card at this year's LouFest. In the late nineties, this powerpop band was on everybody's list to be the next big thing. In 2003, the band broke up and pretty much disappeared. Now, they're back together, re-releasing their 1997 hit album, Kon Tiki, and possibly recording new material. Their smooth melodies brightened the day a little, despite the gray clouds.

The hometown heroes, Son Volt, played a beautiful country set. Although they really sounded quite perfect, they were a down-tempo break in a series of rocking sets. My adrenaline was going a little too fast to really focus on their entire set.

It's hard to describe Phantogram to someone that's never heard them. They combine rock, electronica, and R&B in a seamless fusion. The combination of man and machine on drums made their strange beats come alive. The slight drizzle of rain during their set only added to the mood.

Dinosaur Jr. is the loudest band I've ever seen in concert. This is the second time I've seen them, and they're still loud. A little too loud, in my opinion. Their songs sound quite different live than on the album. The verse of "Feel The Pain" sounds just like the album, but the chorus is played as fast as they can possibly play. It's an experience, though not always a pleasant one.

What's a DJ to do in concert? If you ask Girl Talk, the answer is "mix as much as you can live and throw the biggest party you can." The LCD screens on stage showed strange combinations of graphics that felt like subliminal messaging. People danced on stage, shirts came off, and toilet paper filled the air. This was the birthday party you've always wanted.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Dirty Pigeons - The Dirty Pigeons EP

After playing in and around Chicago for about a year, The Dirty Pigeons have finished their first record, an eponymous EP. This four-piece band creates a natural feel that rocks hard with minimal use of effects.

The seven-track release weaves it's way between up-tempo rockers and beautiful songs with a hint of classic country. "The Valley" is serene and pairs well with the soft vocals. It provides contrast to the EP's opening track, "Idle Dollars," a catchy, sort of romping song. The standout track for me is "What's the Point in Changing?" It's dark theme and distorted vocals are emphasized with the surprisingly heavy, epic guitar solo.

The band showcases their versatility with "Sundays Golden Wishes," a beautifully sorrowful country song reminiscing about better times. Although this EP is entirely original material, The Dirty Pigeons pay tribute to their influences on the closing track, "Stills, Young." The obvious Young-ness of the strong, lengthy solo is still genuinely Dirty Pigeons.

On their first official release (out in September), The Dirty Pigeons show that they are a talented band with a strong sound. I hope to hear more from them in the future. Although they're based in Chicago, St. Louis can get a little piece of the action too. The Dirty Pigeons will be playing at the Heavy Anchor on September 8th.