Song of the STL

On Saturday, September 4, we tuned in to local musical frequencies in their vast and varied incarnations. What we heard, all day and all night:

God bless America! -- Harper

4:35 a.m.
The Coffee Cartel in the Central West End
St. Louis

The Coffee Cartel is empty, which is a good thing. Employees John Donahoe and Greg Luckye have something more important to do right now than serve java: Settle on a satellite radio station for the café.

2:11 a.m.:  DJ Smitty drops beats at Velvet.
Jennifer Silverberg
2:11 a.m.: DJ Smitty drops beats at Velvet.
9:47 a.m.: Madeline Chilton masters the serious art of 
the piano.
Jennifer Silverberg
9:47 a.m.: Madeline Chilton masters the serious art of the piano.

"I like the '80s," says Luckye. "But we had it on super hits of the '70s."

"Yeah, for like a minute," says Donahoe. "It was on something ridiculously sucky with a Casio background."

"It might have been 'Endless Love,'" admits Luckye. "Better than Led Zeppelin."

"How can you think that's better than Led Zeppelin?"

"I hate classic rock."

"How can you hate classic rock?"

For now, they're living with alternative rock, which is piping out the mellow tones of Coldplay's "Yellow."

"It's the station that's least abrasive," Donahoe explains. -- Harper

4:57 a.m.
Sauget, Illinois

Spandex and skinny ties are de rigueur for That 80's Band, rocking the main stage. The crowd, however, is strictly hoosier chic. The band busts out everything from Devo's "Whip It" to Madonna's "Like a Virgin," but as the bar staff says, the crowd gets so drunk it doesn't matter who's on, or what they play. Shouts for Skynyrd emanate from the back, but they go ignored.

The singer, all frills and lace, leans into the mic. "We got a request earlier, and they thought we wouldn't know it, but we do," she says, "and it's OK, because we all do it from time to time." The opening riff of the Vapors' "Turning Japanese" blasts forth from the amps.

The song might be about solo sex, but the man dancing by himself in front of the stage doesn't care. Breaking the jerky rhythm of his white-man-holding-beer dance, he hoists his can in the air. His shouts echo the crowd's pleasure in hearing something -- anything -- vaguely familiar. -- Carlson

6:09 a.m.
Forest Park
St. Louis

It's a loud sort of quiet in Forest Park as the sun rises. It seems like dead air until you put your back against a tree and wait. First you note the backbeat of crickets, constant chirping rhythm. And then the birds, twittering and gossiping, fussing over their avian arguments and staking their claim with their song. They flit from tree to tree; some brush the water and leave a silently echoing wake behind them, while others nestle, head in crook of wing. Then a man on a bike comes pedaling down the road, yells out, "What a beautiful morning!" and ruins the whole damn thing. -- Harper

6:12 a.m.
Sauget, Illinois

This is where the party goes to die. Even in the plush VIP lounge the sense of desperation is palpable, everyone in search of the late-night hookup to the beat of DJ Gary Mac's nameless, faceless house music.

Those who haven't found a partner endure the last gasp before stumbling out alone into the spiteful early-morning sun. Those who have grasp the arms of their nameless, faceless fling. -- Carlson

7:46 a.m.
St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church
St. Louis

Associate Reverend Richard Chapman takes the pulpit to face the few dozen parishioners who've shaken off sleep to arrive in time for the early service at this north-side house of worship.

"This is a day that the Lord had made!" the reverend calls out. "If you're thankful that you're here this morning, say, 'Hallelujah!'"

The pews stir. Reading from their church bulletins, the small crowd joins the reverend in reciting the call to worship: "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth sing praises."

If the Sandman is still among this flock, he's about to get a musical exorcism. With a blast of organ and the staccato tap-tap of a snare drum, the congregation bursts to life.

Singin' amen
Singin' amen
Singin' amen
Amen! Amen!

Now all are on their feet, singing and clapping. The music careers off the rafters, waking the neighbors. -- Chad Garrison

« Previous Page