By Roy Kasten
By Kris Wernowsky
By Chaz Kangas
By Joseph Hess
By Julie Seabaugh
By Mike Appelstein
By Rachel Brodsky
By Kelsey McClure
While mainstream mall culture has certainly co-opted the concepts, ideologies and even fashion of punk rock culture, the mere existence of bands such as the Humanoids ensures that the underground counterculture will never die. The quintet takes its cues from the old school (Descendents and Germs, we're looking at you) and from vintage-leaning groups such as Dillinger 4 both in blistering gigs and on its blink-and-you'll-miss-it debut EP, The Humanoids Are Born. (AZ)
Halo Bar, 11:30 p.m.
Shoegazer, noun: A person prone to liking and/or performing shoegazing music, a genre that's characterized by ear-numbing blasts of distortion, generous doses of reverb, and vocals that range from ethereal to buried-in-the-chaos. Stella Mora, noun: A local co-ed band of the shoegazing variety that likes its guitars loud and its songs filled with pleasing textured drones. Kindred spirits: Lush, Curve, My Bloody Valentine, Swervedriver. (AZ)
Halo Bar, 8:30 p.m.
Walkie Talkie U.S.A.
Since its debut late last summer, Walkie Talkie U.S.A. has quickly developed a sizable fan base. The loose collective plays packed venues with a casual grace that can only come from years of practice and indeed, all of the band's members are veterans of the St. Louis scene. (Bands represented include Sexicolor, Red Eyed Driver, the Phonocaptors and the Tripdaddys, among others.) In Walkie Talkie U.S.A., they've combined their expert talents to create hard indie rock with a foxy, fuzzed-out core. The stylistic diversity of their songs is impressive, and the pop components electrifying hooks and intoxicating choruses are exceptional. (JL)
Delmar Restaurant & Lounge, 1 a.m.
Cuban MissilesCuban Missiles singer Mike employs a snotty, scratchy delivery reminiscent of Less Than Jake's Chris Demakes, but his band's sound bears little resemblance to ska. For that matter, Cuban Missiles strays far from the Descendents' classic pop-punk template, even though they mine that group's catalog under their cover-band alias Sour Grapes. On its 2007 full-length Applaud the Apocalypse, the quartet plays a darker, grittier style of melodicore, with surgically sharp guitar leads, rumbling rhythms and downbeat hooks. (AM)
Despite being in existence for only a few months, the Humanoids' punk pedigree is already impeccable to the tune of an appearance this fall at Gainesville, Florida's well-respected event The Fest; a killer Descendents cover; and opening slots for the Queers and Agent Orange at the Creepy Crawl. But what's most refreshing about the quintet is how little pretension exists within the execution of its no-brakes speedballs; whereas other bands try really hard to sound this badass, the Humanoids make it look easy. (AZ)
Halo Bar, 11:30 p.m.
Lye by MistakeLike James, the tot from Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies who expires after ingesting "lye by mistake," first-time Lye by Mistake listeners might feel as though they've swallowed something much stronger than expected. The group's recently released Arrangements for Fulminating Vective contains some of the most dauntingly technical compositions ever to escape the area, from squealing high-speed solos to complex jazzy interludes to pyrotechnic drumwork. Lye by Mistake's vocals might be harsh, but sublime melodies hide inside its labyrinthine instrumental passages. (AZ)
Even though both groups are gifted at constructing memorable melodies, consider grit-punks the Pubes the yin to the Sex Robots' bubblegum-punk yang. (Obligatory reference point: The two outfits share band members and a label, so any similarities are purely intentional.) Heavier than conventional pop-punk but still accessible, the quartet isn't performing at the showcase because it's currently on a cross-country tour in support of a new album, the cheekily named Peat Sounds. (AZ)
7 Shot Screamers
Despite constant tours, 7 Shot Screamers is not a "local act gone national." No, its status is even better: The quartet is an in-demand national act that insists on staying local. These guys are only in their twenties, but they've been rocking this town since they were wee adolescents. The Screamers represent for psychobilly, which is sort of the sexier, crazier side of rockabilly. Though they do sound much more like the Cramps than the Stray Cats, don't be confused by the labels. At its core, 7SS is an energetic punk band that always gives an impressive, enthusiastic performance. (JL)
Main Outdoor Stage, 5 p.m.
Best Pop Band
Gentleman Auction House
Zeitgeist meets exuberance in this young septet, and while plainly inspired by the mini-marching-band antics of the Arcade Fire and the Decemberists, the band knows the difference between emulation and inspiration. Kiley Lewis' flute and sci-fi keyboards (not to mention handclaps) provide a secret weapon and slyly guide the band's identity through songs of twisted dreams and emotional fuck-ups. The bandmates regularly close by drumming on anything they can get their hands on. Not even their audience is safe which, in rock & roll, is as it should be. (RK)
Main Outdoor Stage, 4 p.m.
The Hibernauts sound completely British. In fact, the band sounds so completely foreign that it's hard to imagine that its breezy, informed Britpop was born in the U.S.A. It's a compliment, really: If they messed up their teeth a bit and obsessed over "football," they could easily pass for a seasoned European band passing through the Midwest on tour. Instead of writing them off as second-rate Blur rip-offs, St. Louis audiences are rightfully astounded by their pretty, unassuming indie-pop. In a genre plagued with dull repetition, the Hibernauts are a revitalizing breath of fresh air. (JL)