By Kris Wernowsky
By Chaz Kangas
By Joseph Hess
By Julie Seabaugh
By Mike Appelstein
By Rachel Brodsky
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
The RFT Music Awards showcase is over (see next week's installment of Radar Station for the complete rundown); now it's time to announce the winners. On Tuesday, June 17, we dole out the priceless plastic trophies in a star-studded extravaglamza at the Schlafly Tap Room in the St. Louis Brewery (2100 Locust Street). And did we mention it's free, free, free? Even if you're pretty sure you're not going to win, even if you're not nominated for an award at all, even if you think the whole thing is just a corporate-sponsored ratfuck, you might as well come for the following reasons: because it's a rare opportunity to see Radar Station in a dress; because nominee/mascot/celebrity presenter Fred Friction's a veritable hoot-and-a-half (even though seeing him in a dress is no big deal); because ungracious losers are fun to mock and -- oh yeah! -- because it's free, free, free. If all that excitement isn't enough to lure you away from the television (and, come on, party people -- Buffy the Vampire Slayer's over already, so there is no good excuse), consider the stellar musical lineup: Sullen, last year's winners in the hard-rock category; Gumbohead, St. Louis' best-known Cajun/zydeco act; local blues treasure Bennie Smith (who can count Jay Farrar among his fans); and the scintillating psych-garage of Tomorrow's Caveman. The festivities start at 7 p.m. sharp. Andale, ándale, EI!
Speaking of the RFT Music Awards, hard-rock nominees Riddle of Steel celebrate the release of their first full-length, Python, on Saturday, June 14, at -- where else? -- the Rocket Bar. The brainy barbarians (and we mean that in the complimentary "Conan" sense, of course!) recorded the CD's eleven songs with Traindodge's Carl Amburn, in Norman, Oklahoma, and they're working on their one-armed sunburns even as we speak. The savage-but-sensitive trio -- which consists of newish drummer Dave Turncrantz (ex-Shelby), guitarist/singer Andrew Elstner (ex-Thulsa Doom) and bassist/singer Jimmy Vavak (ex-Five Deadly Venoms) -- is covering the country in its tricked-out, sunset-detailed Chevy van (nicknamed "Python," as it happens), hitting clubs and collecting converts everywhere from Los Angeles to Madison, Wisconsin. The three should be road-weary but tighter than tight when they pass through their hometown (on their way to the last stop on this leg of the tour, Kansas City, which is, weirdly enough, where most out-of-towners seem to think they're from anyway), so don't miss your chance to congratulate 'em in person before they get too fancy-schmancy to shoot the shit with lumpen nobodies such as yourself.
Released on Ascetic Records, a local label founded by the world's nicest music mogul, Hieu Nguyen (Radar Station, October 3, 2001), Python will be nationally distributed by Nail and should hit stores outside of St. Louis in August. Although Riddle of Steel's publicity and booking is handled by Steve Brydges (of 54° 40' or Fight!, home of Sicbayand Ring, Cicada, among others), the band members wanted to stick with Ascetic rather than sign with a better-known company. Nguyen has been a close friend and a huge supporter of Riddle of Steel from the beginning, and the members wanted to return the favor. With any luck, Riddle of Steel could become Ascetic's flagship band, and St. Louis could become the next Omaha. (A dame can dream, can't she?)
Last week we spoke to a groggy Vavak, who called us on his cell phone from a motel somewhere in Washington state to report that the tour was going quite well -- except for one gruesome incident in which a twentysomething fan suddenly died of heart failure after Riddle of Steel's show in Tucson. "He and his girlfriend were at the merch table, talking to Hieu," Vavak recounted sadly. "He just collapsed. His girlfriend was signing the e-mail list; maybe she bought a T-shirt or something. I think I talked to him and high-fived him and everything beforehand; it was surreal and horrible and kind of morbid for Hieu and the people who were standing right there."
At the risk of sounding flippant, at least the poor dude died happy and thoroughly rocked-out: ears ringing, adrenaline pumping, riddle solved.
On Thursday, June 12, freakazoid genius MCs Qwel and Offwhyte, both of Chicago, throw down at the Pepper Lounge (2005 Locust Street). According to Mike 2600, who ought to know, this show should not be missed: "Of the few underground hip-hop shows our city gets every year, this will be one of the finer ones."