By Roy Kasten
By Kris Wernowsky
By Chaz Kangas
By Joseph Hess
By Julie Seabaugh
By Mike Appelstein
By Rachel Brodsky
By Kelsey McClure
The Litterthugz, St. Louis' most consistently entertaining DJ crew, are creeping closer and closer to complete scene domination. Nobody's complaining in these quarters, though: If ever a music community needed a benevolent oligarchy, it's this one. Let the Litterthugz be the bully on the block, to borrow a phrase from Colin Powell -- unlike the bloodthirsty warlords in the White House, they'll surely use their power for the greater good, and you won't hear a peep from us happy peasants.
So subtle, so sneaky, so goddamned cunning is this collective that we're not even completely clear on its membership: At last count, the Litterthugz comprised Doug Surreal, Ryan B, Cougar Shuttle (a.k.a. Kenny Kingston), DJ Shad, DJ Device, Randy Brewer, Mike 2600 and Reanimator, but the constituency seems to swell and contract depending on circumstances. Not all the 'Thugz are directly involved in every project -- some do solo spins or trade off sets as pairs, and several hook up with other local DJ crews for a little freelance action -- but they come together when they need to, and they promote their events (and those of friends such as the Science and Rotund Sound System crews) not only tirelessly but creatively.
Take for instance, their newest venture, 4x4 Magazine, a tiny (four by four inches -- get it?) free fanzine that made its debut this month and is -- sorry, suckers! -- pretty much impossible to find at this point. (Mike 2600 reports that they printed only 100 copies of the first issue but promises that future editions will be more abundant.) We'll spare you our tedious whining about the relentless suckitude of most of the other local-music zines; suffice it to say, this one isn't a hideous embarrassment to us all. A self-described "pocket-sized guide to local underground music, art, record stores, minor celebrities, food, culture and other fun crap," 4x4 doesn't attempt to be all things to all people. There's none of the usual circular logic -- local bands are good because they're local; support the local scene because it's the local scene -- and it's not about being nicey-nice to anyone who bothers to send in a CD. (The inaugural editorial ends with the immortal phrase "Your rap-metal group is fucking terrible.") 4x4 doesn't stoop to indiscriminate cheerleading and rampant ego-stroking; it's about selectively promoting the stuff that, in the eyes of the editors, deserves to be promoted. Of course, that means every conceivable Litterthugz venture, but it also might include some hardcore group at the Galaxy or a punk-rock show at the Creepy and even a nice little write-up on local laptop noise saboteurs Brain Transplant. Other cool features include free stickers, a charming account of an asshole's well-deserved ass-kicking and a guide to St. Louis dating on the cheap. Most important, it's laugh-out-loud funny, which distinguishes it from 99.9 percent of the other local-music zines we've seen in eons. Contact email@example.com for details.
In other Litterthugz news, the crew is hosting a new spin every Thursday night at the Atomic Cowboy (see "Drink of the Week," for more info on this great space). We checked it out last week, and it was a bona fide blast: Mike 2600 and Doug Surreal spun classic and underground hip-hop, funk, new wave, soul and jazz while breakdancers greased up the shiny hardwood floors and pretty people perched on pretty furniture. And as if that weren't enough, the Litterthugz are joining forces with St. Louis' F5 Records (home of Bits N Pieces, DJ Crucial, Hi-Fideland others) to create a new label subsidiary called Litter5. The first project is a split seven-inch with Mike 2600 and DJ Crucial.
This week, like every week, there are more great shows to hype than space allows. On October 10, the only true god in Radar Station's firmament, Elvis Costello, performs at the Pageant in support of his fantastic latest CD, When I Was Cruel. But if you can't score tickets to that show, check out the Burning Brides the same evening, at the Rocket Bar. Yeah, yeah -- everyone says they sound like the Stooges, the MC5 and Black Sabbath, which is something everyone says about everything these days that's heavy, loud, raw and distorted. But this band has an intelligence to match its intensity, managing to conjure up the glory days of grunge without sounding like a third-rate Nirvana tribute band. On October 11, the revolutionary Haitian dance band Boukman Esksperyans hits Club Viva! for a repeat performance. Their hypnotic, politically charged Afro-Caribbean rhythms tap into voodoo culture, and their effect on an audience is, by all accounts, spookily seductive.