St. Louis' love affair with Kiss and Aerosmith goes back to the '70s, when KSHE pioneered what was then known as "album-oriented rock." Today it's called "classic rock," and the trio of Kiss, Aerosmith and KSHE are still around, and will in fact be reunited at UMB Bank Pavilion later this month. But so deep is our collective love for these bands that KSHE is bringing a teaser show to Pop's (1403 Mississippi Avenue in Sauget, 618-274-6720): Draw the Line (the "official" Aerosmith cover band) and Strutter (one of the better-known Kiss cover bands) will perform a much less expensive version of the Aerosmith/Kiss arena show at 8 p.m. (tickets are $10).
Pop culture theoreticians have long debated the merits of the cover band, and there are no definitive answers. Competent, sometimes even exceptionally talented musicians sublimate their personalities in the persona and music of beloved acts, but for what end? The chance to play every night before large crowds? A genuine love for the music? A steady paycheck? Fun? The members of Draw the Line aver (through their Web site) that all of the above are true. (But Draw the Line is also currently missing a Joe Perry and a Joey Kramer, so at some point the urge to be your own musician must take root.) Steve Tyler fill-in Neill Byrnes has probably found a lifelong career, though, as he not only sounds like Tyler, he looks remarkably like Tyler circa 1974 (examine photos at www.drawtheline.net and be amazed).
None of this matters to the fans, who come because they love the music and want the chance to see their "favorite band" in a smaller venue and to watch a young version of the Toxic Twins tear up "Back in the Saddle" at close range -- or exult in a Gene Simmons who's not busting out of the sides of his pants. The originals are, after so many years, but pale reflections of themselves; these are younger, livelier reflections, perhaps closer to real than the real deal has been in a long time. -- Paul Friswold
Beam Me Up, Suzuki The earthlings just don't get it
Dr. David Suzuki's theory of the seven basic elements -- earth, air, fire, water, biodiversity, love and spirituality -- may seem a mite hippie-dippy to some (and a bit too reminiscent of the movie The Fifth Element), but the real problem, of course, is that he's preaching to the converted. The celebrity scientist holds forth on our shared journey to environmental doom for a gaggle of liberals at a free talk at the St. Louis Science Center at 7:30 p.m. (5050 Oakland Avenue, call 314-289-4424 for reservations) and on the new PBS miniseries "The Sacred Balance" (7-9 p.m. Wednesdays on KETC in September, www.davidsuzuki.org). Suzuki plans to sign books after discussing the "interconnectivity of nature," something we first noticed courtesy of LSD. -- Byron Kerman
Mean Green Protesting Machine
When the Gateway Green Alliance isn't fighting for Mother Nature, it's whipping up one damn big bowl of noodles in pesto. The group's annual Great Green Pesto Feast is famous for inundating local progressives with enough basil to cause a natural high, and this year, that herb was organically grown in Missouri. (There will be tomato sauce and other choices, too.) The meal precedes a talk on "Who Will Control Agriculture?" by Michael Dorsey (pictured, right), one of the planners of the controversial Biodevastation 7 conference on genetic engineering, and the only African-American on the Sierra Club's board of directors (5-10 p.m., $15-$20, 314-727-8554). -- Byron Kerman
Along with sharing such conditions as schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder, the five New Yorkers of Cinemania are all movie buffs to the point of compulsion. Jack imagines "making love to Rita Hayworth in black-and-white"; Harvey has the soundtracks -- on vinyl -- to dozens of B-grade sci-fi flicks; Eric lives in a hovel, surrounded by videotapes of musicals; Roberta is occasionally banned from theaters for her truculent fandom; and Bill sums up the group ethos when he says that "film is a substitute for life." In a documentary worthy of an Oliver Sacks book, Cinemania offers humor and pity at 8 p.m. Saturday, September 6, and Sunday, September 7, at Webster University's Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood Avenue, $4-$6, 314-968-7128). -- Byron Kerman