Red Rocks

Nothing but love for Sammy F***in' Hagar, Melanie Moon and the Blanche; plus, we lay bare our soul (and other less metaphysical parts)

Blame it on Chicago, fellas. A source at the station who spoke on condition of anonymity tells Unreal that Edlund's hire is mostly the concoction of KPLR's new owner, Windy City-based media behemoth Tribune Company, which, the source says, is intent on gradually sculpting Channel 11 into a River City version of Midway superstation WGN.

Though the move might be viewed as a vote of confidence for Jamboretz, it's a considerable dice roll. Edlund's reputation is solid, but he's no Julius Hunter. And shooing Moon means losing the excuse that the zippy nine o'clock newscast is a zag to the stodgy zig of KSDK and is therefore immune to head-to-head comparisons. A potential wild card in the shuffle is the question of whether KPLR's weekend ratings will spike now that Moon is back on the desk where she got her local start after migrating from Virginia. It's possible that where Moon arises, the buttoned-down dudes will tune in their sets. And as Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean knows, it's all about energizing your base.

The Unburdening

Unreal has a confession to make.

We used to hate the Samples. Absolutely hate them. We don't recall precisely what we had against the Colorado earth-rock band, but suffice it to say that our hatred caused us to do something we've been feeling bad about ever since.

About six years ago the group was playing a concert at Washington University. Having consumed more than a few refreshing malt beverages, a young and reckless Unreal -- bear with us; we're almost too ashamed to admit this -- hurled a nearly full can of beer at the bassist, hitting him in the head and briefly halting the performance while security sought the culprit.

Unreal escaped, but the incident still haunts us. So much so that when we got word the Samples would be in town this Friday afternoon for a free show at the Budweiser True Music Stage on Washington Avenue, we resolved to get the whole fiasco off our chest. So we called lead singer Sean Kelly.

Of course, before copping to our crime, we figured we should feel out the situation a little.

Unreal:What's the worst experience you've ever had on tour?

Sean Kelly:One of the worst happened on our last tour, where we had a show canceled in Salt Lake City. We were robbed of the money and our show from the promoter. It was a total debacle.

Have you ever had to deal with unruly crowds?

Once in New York many years ago, people were throwing mud or hay or something on stage. I took my water bottle and heaved it out and smashed it on some guy's head. And I said, "You'd better cut it out!" and gave him the finger and left. Then [the concertgoers] charged our bus and tried to tip it over. It was like Children of the Corn!

Do you remember playing at Washington University in 1997?

[Bemused silence]

Wash. U. in St. Louis?

I don't know if I do.

It was an outdoor concert, in the "Quad" area. It was either '97 or '96.

Yes! I do remember that! Someone whipped a can and hit our bass player in the head! Our bass player was ripped -- he was pissed! Man, you're so defenseless on stage because you have lights in your eyes half the time; you can't see. That was probably up there with beating up an old lady -- it's really bad. It's bad, bad, bad karma to do that. To whip shit at people on the stage is, like, the worst thing you can do.

Well, I have to admit something. I have to get something off my chest...

Were you the one that threw it?

[Meekly] Yeah.

Oh man. [Pause] Don't worry about it.

I was a young, drunk kid. Believe me, if I come to see you guys next weekend I won't do that again.

We've all done stupid things. Don't worry about it! And it didn't turn out that bad. I think we kept playing afterwards.

If it makes you feel any better, I was shunned by my classmates for the next few weeks, but they forgave me, and it sounds like you have too.

Yeah! If we heard that people were giving you shit, we would have defended you. Sorry you had to go through that. Definitely come down to the show and say hi, wouldya? I mean, we all do stupid shit. Don't hold that stuff in, it's no good.

Viva the Blanche!

If a well-planned media event is any indicator, the future success of the $52 million Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center on the campus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis seems assured. The doughnuts were delicious, the orange juice ice cold, and both primed the bevy of reporters and stuffed-shirts into an awe-inspired stupor as they crossed the threshold into the stunning Anheuser-Busch Performance Hall.

Of course, it's easy to lure Unreal with a free doughnut. But it may prove more difficult to draw 1,600 people to see Melissa Manchester and Paul Williams perform. Harder still will be stomaching the truth that the inaugural season also includes, among others, Manhattan Transfer, the U.S. Army Field Band and part of the new-age record label Windham Hill's roster. Doubtless UMSL students should go crazy for these renegades! Anyone complaining that The Blanche, as we hereby nickname the new 123,000-square-foot structure, is going to suck people out of downtown can rest easier knowing that on at least one November evening there will be 1,600 fewer new-age fans in the central corridor.

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