On With the Show

Our footsore columnist concludes her tour of the Slammies Showcase

In this, our second column on the Slammies, we cover the last four hours of the showcase and the somewhat disappointing awards ceremony 10 days later. First, the end of the showcase: Having spent the last 6 hours shuttling from stage to stage, we found ourselves at the Hi-Pointe, too exhausted to do anything but park our ass on a barstool and apply temporary LoFreq promotional tattoos to our neck in a pathetic attempt to emulate bartender/KDHX-FM personality Tim Mize. We got there just in time to catch the Spiders, a bracing punk-rock outfit specializing in the loud, the fast and the obstreperous. Singer Combustible Jaxon staggers around the stage with a lunatic energy, contorting his skinny frame around the mic stand, lurching into the crowd, knocking things over. We liked their choice of covers -- Mötörhead -- but they seemed a bit by-the-numbers to us. Still, there's no denying that they did in fact rock.

Next, LoFreq served up murky stoner rock, loud, slovenly and about as subtle as a South Broadway whore. Thundering bass, dirty-metal riffs, crippling distortion, a girl who gyrates onstage with band-logo stickers taped over her boobs -- Lofreq's got all the elements in place to be St. Louis' answer to the Queens of the Stone Age. But who needs props from Radar Station when Vintage Vinyl manager, former Slut From Hell, karaoke diva and pre-eminent St. Louis rock chick Debby Sue Mikles anoints you her favorite band (if only for the night)?

Then came Keyop, a new four-piece boasting the dual-guitar assault of Dan Campbell and Erik Seaver(5 Deadly Venoms, Pave the Rocket). Although we suspect that the phrase "smart emo" is oxymoronic, we're going to use it anyway. How else to describe the way Campbell's hoarse, angst-ridden bellow punctuates Seaver's edgy, often lyrical leads? Although we're aware that Keyop probably shun the "emo" label, as any self-respecting band should, there's no denying that they've got a definite Sunny Day Real Estate/At the Drive In kinda vibe.

We try not to be too kiss-ass when describing Sexicolor, but what can we say? We love them, those purveyors of teenage hard-on chords, those stackers of Marshalls, those cock-rockin', swaggering rock & roll heartthrobs. It's not their chops, although they're impressive. It's not their songs, although they're catchy and smart. What distinguishes Sexicolor from the legions of wannabes is, in a word, charisma, that elusive quality separating the rock stars from all the greasy-haired basement guys. When singer/guitarist Spitzie West sneers, "I'm fucking huge, you know what I mean?" your answer is, by necessity, "Fuck yeah!"

The Slammies awards ceremony took place 10 days later at the Pageant, with Ken Krueger (former frontman for Big Fun) officiating. Four bands performed, and between sets the winners were announced by a variety of local celebrities, ranging from the hilarious (the Highway Matrons' Fred Friction and Mark Marshens) to the embarrassing (KLOU-FM jock/zealot Smash). Children's Audio, the first band on the bill, had everyone in stitches with their adorable choreography. Note to local bands: Incorporate synchronized jumping jacks into your act; you will make your audience very happy, especially if you're barely 20 and seemingly overjoyed to play your poppy-punk/punky-pop music for a handful of pogoing teenagers.

Getaway Car is an amazing group, a slinky fusion of blue-eyed soul (à la the Style Council), drum & bass and modern rock. Good thing we already knew this, because, to our chagrin, the mix was so muddy as to render them virtually unlistenable. It must be said: The sound at the Pageant is consistently horrendous. It's astonishing that a concert venue so beautifully designed, so effectively managed, so lavishly appointed lacks the one essential: decent sound. Theories abound as to why it sucks: a weak PA, misguided soundmen, the looming balcony supported by uninsulated steel beams, the copious concrete, the cavernous-dance-floor echo effect. We don't know which of these theories, if any, is correct; we just wish someone would fix the problem, pronto. Why do we care so much? Because they're booking incredible shows; because owner/developer Joe Edwards is a saint and a hero and no one cares more passionately about St. Louis music than he; because the building itself is beautiful, neither retro-vulgar nor inconsistent with the surrounding streetscape; and, finally, because it's east of Skinker and the city of St. Louis desperately needs it to succeed. Edwards told the Post-Dispatch he's addressing the sound concerns; once the problem is solved, the Pageant will be the best thing to happen in St. Louis music in years.

We were mortified when 75 percent of the audience hightailed its collective ass out the door before the Oliver Sain Revue, the last band on the bill, had even started its third song. True, the ceremony dragged at times (most acutely during the Soulard Blues Band's interminable thank-you speech), and Nelly didn't show, and, yes, we were all very drunk and tired and sick of seeing plastic trophies bestowed on underwhelmed winners and winner-representatives. But don't let these convenient excuses keep you from feeling ashamed of yourselves, as you very well should, because you bastards walked out on what was without a doubt the evening's best performance, one that featured not only the immortal bluesman Oliver Sain but the co-inventor of rock & roll, Johnnie Johnson. For this crime, you should all flagellate yourselves until further notice.

 
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