By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
Because you can't drive down Washington Avenue without plummeting nose-first into a gargantuan crater or sideswiping a concrete barrier, you might as well park the goddamn SUV and stroll down the avenue. It's spring, for chrissake -- what do you need with an automobile? Using only your dancing-enhanced sausages, it'll be quite easy to shimmy in and shimmy out of any one of five Washington clubs that are part of the grand Washington Avenue Beat Festival 3: Tangerine, Lo, Galaxy, Velvet and the newest addition to the strip, Rue 13 (co-owned by Velvet and Texan developers the McGowan brothers). Walk in, dance, sweat, dance some more, nod your head a few times with the beat and guzzle something, then walk out and continue on your way.The third Beat Fest is one night, six hours, 20 artists at five clubs downtown, featuring house, jungle, hip-hop, techno, acid jazz and breaks. It goes something like this: Velvet is the place to be for house and techno, the highlights being Légo from Chicago (pictured) and transplanted-to-Chicago-from-St.-Louis house genius Marc Buxton. Micro's brand of trance, breaks and techno is OK, but because hard choices must be made, ditching Micro may be necessary. It's hip-hop at the Galaxy, and definitely check NYC's X-ecutioners, the four-man turntablist crew that is to hip-hop what those crazy Chinese acrobats who contort their bodies and juggle each other are to gymnastics. It's remarkable what they do. Local rap crews Bits N Pieces spit rhymes alongside the Midwest Avengers, Getaway Car, Breakbeat Mechanic Leon Lamont and others.
Tangerine hosts a more subdued evening of acid-jazzy house. The Urban Jazz Naturals feature Mo and Dawn from Vargas Swing, riffing off DJ Don Tinsley, and DJ Luan will spin jazzy house. It's all drum & bass at Lo: St. Louis' DJ Ses spins with a trio of Chicagoans: Danny the Wildchild, Phantom 45 and RY-N (whose recent mix is very weird, very freaky, very futuristic and very, very, very good). Finally, Rue 13 features DJ Alexis, accompanied by the Infusion Percussion Ensemble. House with live beats. Don't miss.
Overall, it's a good deal. Memorial Day on Monday means a late Sunday is possible, and the stellar overachievers who booked the festival did a great job of diversification. One $12 wristband gets you some exercise and some good beats. Oh, and the St. Louis Police Department's Capt. Lawrence O'Toole wants us to mention that, despite the fact the Washington Avenue itself is all potholes and craters, construction begins soon to make the street as smooth as silk; get ready for lane closures, a bit of chaos and a bevy of hardhats in the next year. After that, heaven. Until then, lots of dust and rock.