By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
As producer, arranger and over-all jazz deconstructionist, Lamar Harris roams across an urban musical landscape like a graffiti artist obsessed with smudging and smearing boundaries. Over crisp, dense beats and squiggling keys, Harris sprays horn and bass lines that have the expressiveness of jazz and the grooves of hip-hop. Though he's honed his sound in the studio, his most recent release, Live at the Bistro, recorded at the St. Louis jazz club in January 2008, captures how vivid and visceral his funk can be. (RK)
Brandt's, 9 p.m.
The Upright Animals have the blessing of St. Louis rock royalty, having opened for Chuck Berry on a number of occasions. Just don't expect to see them duck-walking across the stage anytime soon. The quintet leans heavily on expansive rock & roll, using arena-sized riffs and larger-than-life drums to fill up the room. Jamie Irwin's big-hearted vocals are tailor-made for modern rock radio, and his bandmates push him toward the stratosphere with spacey, amorphous sheets of sound. (CS)
Kim Massie is one of this city's treasures. She has been entertaining lucky locals for decades with her soulful voice and playfully sassy attitude. In addition to crooning her original songs, Massie has the power to make covers sound like they were written just for her. While most entertainers her age retired long ago, Massie is still working her thick, enviable pipes in venues that range from the elegant Fox Theatre to dark corner bars and even under the Arch, where she dueted with Cyndi Lauper last July. (JL)
Nite Owl's victory at the Koch Records-sponsored Koch Madness contest (which netted him $1000 and a single deal with the label) is the latest result of the hip-hop vet's tireless hustle. This year alone, he's played numerous gigs at the Old Rock House and Duck Room, released a double album (Spoiled Rotten, whose Outkast/Kanye influences rang true) and will perform at the Hot 104.1 Summer Jam alongside T.I. and Keyshia Cole. (AZ)
Blueberry Hill's Elvis Room, 10 p.m.
Best Garage Band
Sometimes it seems like all East Side rock bands are art-damaged wankers who consider getting on your nerves a valid artistic aim. Then along comes somebody like Left Arm. It can get just as loud as any of its fellow Illinoisans, but the band uses its powers in the service of vulgar old rock & roll. Dissatisoul, its latest disc, has won the ears of discerning garage creeps on both sides of the Big Muddy. Left Arm isn't out to alter any paradigms or confound any expectations – except maybe the expectation that East Side bands can't play rock & roll. – Jason Toon
Halo Bar, 10 p.m.
Local garage denizens the Gentleman Callers always had a soft spot for scruffy '60s pop, so it's no surprise that after they went on hiatus, drummer Matt Picker, guitarist Seth Porter and bassist Kevin Schneider formed the mod-rockin' Blind Eyes. Garage more in spirit than in practice, this new band nevertheless channels the angry-young-man smarts of Joe Jackson and Elvis Costello and Squeeze's cool-for-cats power-pop. (AZ)
>Halo Bar, 9 p.m.
Once inside a rock club dreary, while I sat stupefied and beery, before many a dull and tedious song by some forgotten bore. While I nodded, nearly snoring, suddenly there came a roaring, tremendous chords that set me soaring, so I asked the guy working the door: "Who are these garage-rocking giants that compel me to get out on the floor?" Quoth the door guy: "The Nevermores." (JT)
Whether you call it punk-infused rockabilly, rock-infused country or swing-tinged blues, the Trip Daddys channel everything that is pure and nostalgic about rock & roll. The trio has survived several lineup changes and other hardships over its nearly thirteen-year history but has always remained an ambassador of the classic style of hillbilly blues championed by St. Louis' own Chuck Berry in the '50s. A Daddys live show is always a spectacle; singer/guitarist Craig Straubinger manages to pull off big guitar solos and over-the-top, high-energy theatrics without pandering to the audience or coming off as some sort of novelty act. (SM)
Halo Bar, 11 p.m.
The term "garage rock" can be either a meaningless catch-all or a restrictive genre tag, but the two guys and one gal in the Vultures stretch the borders of garage rock with each two-minute song-burst. While the band's debt to rockabilly and scuzz rock is apparent, the Vultures drop in little nuggets of early-'80s punk rock, girl-group innocence and gritty soul as well. The band has already released an EP and a seven-inch, and a full-length should be issued later this year. We'll see just how many genres they can shoehorn onto one CD. (CS)
Best Hard Rock/Metal
In the liner notes to Slayer's 1996 cover album Undisputed Attitude, the group explains that while bands such as Minor Threat and D.R.I. weren't all that fast, they appreciated their intensity. Well, maybe those early hardcore outfits, which Cross Examination resembles, weren't speedy by metal's standards, judged by double-bass beats-per-minute and total solo-notes shredded, but they sounded as if they were about to combust. It's the difference between an airplane, cruising overhead at some unfathomable velocity and an overtaxed car doing 150 on the highway. Other acts might be technically quicker than Cross Examination, but they'll never sound more reckless, dangerous and, well, fun. (AM)