By Jeremy Essig
By Jason Robinson
By Hans Morgenstern
By Joseph Hess
By Peter Gilstrap
By Julia Burch
By Jeremy Essig
By Nathan Smith
Still, the honest truth is that I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't like going out (a lot) and talking to people even more. Which is what I did last week, an epic eight-day stretch in which caffeine, whiskey and pure adrenaline fueled a week-long music binge. My life isn't as glamorous as it might appear (although what isn't in the column might lead you to think otherwise), but here's a glimpse into a normal week in A to Z's life.
Sunday, April 1. Grandpa's Ghost, playing original improvised music over short films by James Fotopoulos at White Flag Projects. Despite performing in front of one of the ruder crowds I've experienced in recent memory seriously, people, if you want to talk through the band, go to a bar the experimental quartet managed to sculpt a fine hour-long set of ambient, Brian Eno-esque drone that blissed-out and crescendoed in all the right places.
Monday, April 2. As clubs editor Christian Schaeffer wrote about on STLog (www.riverfronttimes.com/blogs/?p=310), he and I attended alt-country chanteuse Neko Case's concert at the Blue Note in Columbia. Despite my inability to procure Shakespeare's Pizza, the balmy spring night, a beautiful Missouri sunset and a pristine-sounding show added up to perfection. Case is the rare performer whose voice sounds exactly the same live and in the studio, and her rich warble moved me to tears many times, namely on the performance of the midnight ache "Tightly." And the witty repartee between Case and long-time harmonic foil Kelly Hogan the women uttered the phrase "I'm high on Peeps" at one point was hilariously reminiscent of Laverne and Shirley.
Tuesday, April 3. The Bureau debuted its new lineup (specifically, with new guitarist Bobby Duebelbeis) at a muggy Creepy Crawl performance. Although the gig understandably sounded rough around the edges, by the middle of the set, impressive elements within new songs the manic-carousel keyboards and motor-mouthed chorus of "We Make Plans in Secret"; a much more aggressive, louder dual-guitar sound elsewhere; and the entirety of perfect pop gem "Stalingrad" emerged and made me quite excited for the quartet's upcoming full-length.
Wednesday, April 4. What I like best about Silversun Pickups is how the band effortlessly captures and simultaneously takes listeners back to the boundless optimism and equally limitless frustrations of adolescence. The yowling fuzz and catharsis on the band's debut, Carnavas, screams exhilaration, of being a teenager and hating the world, yet still being starry-eyed enough to dream of an exotic future. The quartet's plugged-in show at the Pageant was nothing short of mind-blowing, and the sculpted tension within "Checkered Floor" and the organized chaos of "Lazy Eye" during which Christopher Guanlao pounded his drums à la Animal from the Muppets, and vocalist Brian Aubert stopped the clatter on a dime like a mad-man maestro left me feeling invincible. Plus, the two excited little girls who approached bassist Nikki Monninger after the show for her autograph warmed my little heart. Girl power!
Thursday, April 4. Shipwreck and Ghost in Light at Mangia. The former was a formidable live act, capable of pulling off diverse styles Queens of the Stone Age thunder, sunny power-pop and even a bit of Duran Duran dance-punk with ease. Ghost in Light, pulling an R.E.M. and now collaborating as a trio, proved its mettle handily with an energized, inspired and emotional set. When Josh Evans accompanied himself singing on acoustic guitar, the band echoed U2; the already-forceful post-rock slam "Move Over" possessed extra verve; and the aching "Walls of Jericho" was perhaps even more longing than the version on After Fox Meadow.
Friday, April 5. My posse traveled east to hang in Edwardsville at the Stagger Inn, with a detour into Laurie's Place to catch seasoned bluegrass vets Cumberland Gap (who were perhaps the most pleasant find of the week; how have I never seen them before?). At the Stagger, the peppy, horn-powered Chia Band who covered the Beatles and swing fave "Jump, Jive and Wail" alike was the ideal Friday-night party band.
Saturday, April 7. Is there a frontman better at banter than John Roderick of the Long Winters? ("Thank you, goodnight, we're Weezer!" he deadpanned at the end of the band's main set.) Kicky versions of old jangle-faves "Cinnamon" and "Scared Straight" smoked, although the wrenching shuttle-disaster ode "The Commander Thinks Aloud" was the real highlight, as it was buoyed by layers of eerie, mournful keyboards which magnified the song's heart-piercing lyric, "The crew compartment's breaking up."
Sunday, April 8. Like I learned in church growing up, on Sunday the seventh day of the week, although technically the eighth day of my ridiculous week I rest. Sort of. I wrote this column and, um, maybe danced around my apartment like a goon when Gwen Stefani's "The Sweet Escape" and the new Maroon 5 single came on the radio. Er.