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
For twelve hours straight last week, we jogged, trotted, marched, stumbled, staggered and, ultimately, hobbled from club to club, hoping to catch as much as possible of the RFT Music Awards showcase. We crossed Delmar Boulevard at least fourteen times, hitting every participating venue except the Hi-Pointe, which, regrettably, we had to omit from our itinerary this year. Last time around, we spent four hours there and never made it back to the Loop for the final hours of the showcase. Knowing that the Hi-Pointe is our own little dirt-rock Lotos-land, we decided not to tempt fate, even though it meant missing some of our fave raves. Also, owing to all the commotion on Delmar (in addition to the RFTMA showcase, the St. Lunatics were performing at the Pageant), we thought it wise to limit our club-hopping to venues within walking distance of each other and of our car, a decision that allowed us to cram more bands into the allotted time.
How'd we do? Well, we managed to check out nineteen separate acts, all told, which has to be some kind of record. (All challengers are invited to contact us with their final tallies -- any lucky bastard who trumps us can choose a prize from our pile of local-band swag: a Greenwheel six-pack container that no one claimed in the last Radar Station Challenge; a special Saw Is Familyrefrigerator magnet; a snazzy, very retro-new-wave Climber or Tory Z. Starbuck lapel pin; or a handwritten letter from Mark Stephensof the Highway Matrons, this year's winner in the Best Rock category.)
Although Radar Station can think of few things besides sleeping that we want to do for twelve hours straight, the 2002 RFTMA showcase wasn't just an endurance test. In addition to being claustrophobic, smoky, loud and exhausting, it also managed to be a lot of fun and, occasionally, sublime. For whole minutes at a time, we felt as if we were in some bright-lights-big-city kinda place, where people actually walk around at night and do stuff. As Bruk Longbottom, Black Thorn manager and Ouija bassist, said to us in the Elvis Room during the Fantasy Four's set, "St. Louis should be like this every night." Unless someone introduces us to some great new drug, we're not sure we could see nineteen bands every night, but Bruk has a point. Wouldn't it be pretty to think so?
The actual RFTMA winners have already been announced (see the following pages for the complete rundown); unfortunately but inevitably, a lot more talent exists in this burg than plastic trophies. In an effort to balance the scales, we herewith present the first annual Radar Station Special Showcase Awards. (We're calling 'em the Razzies around here, but if you narc us out to the Recording Industry Association of America we'll deny it.)
Best Name-Dropping: Sid Sinatra, of the Dead Celebrities, introduced a song during the group's daytime mainstage performance by saying, "This one's about René Saller and how cool she is." We're pretty sure he was trying to mock us, but how would we know? The Wildean wit of the Dead Celebrities is too subtle, too rarefied, for the likes of us. Fortunately, their cerebral badinage didn't alienate voters: They won the Best Punk award, along with the first-ever Razzy.
Best Use of a Microphone Stand: This one's a tie. We simply couldn't decide whether it was better to throw it around the floor and trip over it, à la Mike Bangert of the Conformists, or to have slow, nasty public sex with it, as Jason Triefenbach of the Electric did.
Best Partial Nudity: The Rockhouse Ramblers probably didn't make this happen, but we'll give them the award anyway because we don't know the name of the guy whose pants fell down as he was trying to coax a reluctant lady to join him in a drunken modified two-step. The sight of bare asscheeks isn't customary at Ramblers' gigs, but it certainly brightened our evening.
Best Heckling: A very drunk Matt Harnish, RFT contributor and Julia Sets bassist, rocked everyone's world when he shouted at the impossibly lame singer/songwriter sucking up valuable Flamerz time, "You suck so bad, you must be a friend of Jeff Harlan!" Ordinarily we wouldn't countenance such obvious rudeness, but in this case it was well deserved.
Best Jailbait Generators: Just Add Water wins this one, hands down. During their mainstage set, dozens of comely female teens and preteens pressed themselves against the stage, gazing rapturously at frontman Steve Waller, singing along to every word and exposing their pretty white skins to damaging UV rays. To JAW's credit, the band members don't seem to take their fans for granted -- and they shouldn't. They cover a Beatles song, so they probably know it all comes down to the pants, darling.
Best Crowd-Packers: Another tie, this one between Jive Turkey (who played their last set in town) and Alexis Tucci's Hothouse Sessions, who managed to get the crowd dancing even though every single person present was making full-body contact with at least four other people. Cicero's seemed to be jam-packed (Ha! We made a funny!) pretty much all night long, but Jive Turkey and Tucci and crew seemed to do the best job of making people forget that someone else's sweat was dripping on their foreheads at all times.