Listening Post

'N SYNC WAS HOT: I was partial to Chris, but Justin was damn cute, too. Joey wasn't really my type, and Lance seems to have gained a few pounds in the last few months -- he seemed a bit tubby. I can't remember anything at all about JC -- I look longingly at pictures of them, but his image doesn't register as having been onstage at all. Maybe he bleached his hair or something.

The event was a sold-out, two-night engagement at the American Theatre with teen dreams 'N Sync, who have sold 3 million-plus records in the past six months, and I was there, front and center, screaming my eyes out, weeping with a hormonal joy at the very sight of Chris, fire of my loins, smugly introducing himself with one raised eyebrow and this shit-eating grin on his face. O Chris, why must you tease me?

The scene, preshow: I was the only unmarried man in the house. The only other men were fathers, toting their prepubescent daughters into this jungle of hormonal rage. The air was thick with youthful desire. The din was like walking into a forest in which a thousand birds were simultaneously, relentlessly chirping. I couldn't hear a single voice amid the lot of them. It was constant. It was excruciating. I've never been in an audience teeming with such excitement.

Whoosh, the lights went out, the darkness was thick and all of a sudden the thousand birds were screaming the exact same song, the same pitch, the same energy. Think the shower-scene strings of Psycho, pumped to 11. My mind and body turned gelatinous, my heart exploded, and I fell to my knees. "CHRIS! JUSTIN! CHRIS! JUSTIN!"

The five of them walked out in, I shit you not, hooded monk's robes. You couldn't tell who was who. They stood there in a single line. The music started. Muscular legs started grooving to the beat. The human screeching was reaching a pre-orgasmic fever pitch. In one quick movement, the robes were gone and ... they were in full-face white motorcycle helmets -- O cruel teases, why must you play with my heart? -- and very shiny, very tight silver bodysuits. They looked kinda like Devo 2000. Which one was Chris? Was he the one doing the grind? Was he pumping his pelvis? Was he the one doing the robot? You couldn't tell. They danced for a few minutes, each girl pointing at them, trying to place body with name. In one quick movement, though, the helmets were off, and the girlies ROARED. Think "fingernails," "chalkboard" and "megaphone." I roared. I lost my voice. I lost my balance. Chris looked right at me and winked. The world collapsed. I fell to the floor. I wept and trembled, mumbling "Chris, Chris, Chris." The next thing I knew, a buff paramedic was telling me to breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out, and there I am, still hugging my $10 photo, the faint sound of a crowded forest echoing in the distance. (RR)

CHARITY CHEER: I don't hate Christmas songs, but I always feel like a schmuck singing them. When I was a kid, my sisters would drag me along for caroling, and I counted it a good night if we didn't trigger any security systems or if we only did the 12-minute "Jingle Bells" rather than the 20. Last year I reluctantly joined One Fell Swoop and a dozen other singers and guitar players down at the Focal Point for a Christmas party and sing-along. I warbled through some songs with friends, ate cookies and drank Christmas brew, and had a marvelous time. Circle Saturday, Dec. 19, on your calendars, and join One Fell Swoop and lots of other good folks at 8 p.m. at the Focal Point for this year's gathering. Bring your guitar or banjo, sing a song from the stage or join in from the audience. All proceeds go to the St. Louis Foodbank. (RK)

PM IN THE P.M.: For the past few years, St. Louis musician Peter Mayer has worked almost full-time backing Jimmy Buffett in the recording studio and on concert tours designed to entertain the legions of Parrotheads across the U.S. and around the world. But Mayer has still found the time to keep his solo career going -- as well as his work with brother Jim and fellow St. Louisan Roger Guth, both members of Buffett's band as well.

Local music fans -- many of whom still remember the well-crafted songs created by the trio of musicians under the name PM -- can hear a preview of Peter Mayer's latest recording, Romeo's Garage, this Friday, Dec. 18, in Blueberry Hill's Duck Room and can also hear Jim Mayer and Guth performing with him. According to Mayer, Romeo's Garage won't be officially released until January, but he's eager to play the music in St. Louis and has a special lineup of musicians planned for the Duck Room concert. "In addition to Jim, Roger and I, Vince Varvel of Jimmy's band will be playing, and Sandy Weltman and Scott Bryan will also be there," states Mayer. "And I've also lined up a string trio to perform on several songs."

Compared to his last recording, 1996's Green-Eyed Radio, Peter Mayer thinks Romeo's Garage came together much more quickly -- and has a more basic, stripped-down musical approach. "Earlier this year, a friend told me I really needed to get a new recording out, rather than waiting for the perfect time to put it together," he says. "It really made sense, and I already had a bunch of tunes written. So I wrote some additional songs, like 'Chain of Love' and 'My Rainbow,' and luckily was able to get some time booked in Mac McAnally's studio in Muscle Shoals, Ala. It came together really quickly, and it's more basic for me, but I'm really happy with how it sounds." (TP)

PHOTO REQUESTS: Musicians, the RFT continually prints photos of local bands in our "Calendar" section, usually in conjunction with upcoming gigs. If you want us to print your photo, though, obviously we have to have one on hand. So send us your photos for possible use in the "Calendar." Send them to the address listed at the front of the paper, attention "Calendar." Make sure you include the name of the band (or individual artist), along with a contact phone number. (RR)

Contributors: Roy Kasten, Terry Perkins, Randall Roberts

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