All the Young Punks

The Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center relieves social constipation, one ear-splitting roar at a time

"St. Louis, and Lemp in particular, has been getting very high marks as one of the most comfortable and responsive places to play," improvisational jazzman Jack Wright offers. Adds Wright, who's scheduled to play at the Lemp on May 27: "What we've found in St. Louis inspires players to make the trek, following a trail through Lexington [Kentucky] and Bloomington [Indiana] -- two other high points of any Midwest tour.

"Is the St. Louis scene better than Chicago?" he muses. "At this point, most definitely."

The down-home hospitality -- breakfast pastries and comfy cushions to crash on -- don't hurt either.

"I think that Mark has a lot of great ideas for the way a venue should treat their bands and the surrounding neighborhood," says guitarist Chuck Rowell, a member of the Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower, which played to a packed Lemp house on April 15.

Rowell's also mighty fond of the crowd.

"The kids are the best," Rowell continues. "We only play all-ages. Playing 21-and-up, people are mainly there to socialize, they're not there for the music. If a kid comes to a show, he's skipping out on homework -- there's a lot more urgency, a chance you can have an effect on a kid. That's what punk music is about."

There goes the neighborhood.

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