By Jeremy Essig
By Jason Robinson
By Hans Morgenstern
By Joseph Hess
By Peter Gilstrap
By Julia Burch
By Jeremy Essig
By Nathan Smith
The goal is to encapsulate the city's sound one compilation at a time, to archive it through a tangible, curated exhibit. Surprise quickly outweighed skepticism, and those musicians who weren't acquainted made quick introductions over backyard beer or at the collective's Off Broadway listening party.
"I've gotten excited about things before that didn't end up working out, so I went in very skeptical," Bunnygrunt's Matt Harnish says. "But these guys have seen good ideas go to waste, and they didn't want that to happen here, too."
That concern propels the collective's future plans, which replicate the simplicity of its first year. Arranged throughout St. Louis staples like Vintage Vinyl, Euclid Records and Apop, only 500 copies of the compilation will hit the market. A little more than 50 of these are already gone, swept up during the comp's Record Store Day pre-release. The follow-up will likely be limited to the same number and funding schedule, and Tower Groove's founders are open to making the carnival an annual event.
But that's where similarities end: The sophomore compilation will focus on an entirely new lineup with no repeated bands, and its curators hope to move far outside of south city with the next selection. To bridge the gap between the two large-scale projects, Hesed is planning the fall launch of a Tower Groove singles club, through which followers can pay $20 for four months of St. Louis seven-inches. One side will highlight an artist from the new comp, the other the old. But right now, it's a little too soon to call anything Tower Groove touches "old."
Especially since its creators have so much riding on this weekend. Are they ever worried it won't work out? "Sure," Hesed says.
Often? "Yeah, we are right now, in fact. If people don't come out to the release, if we haven't sold the records, then it hasn't worked out. Artistically, it already has, but this is for St. Louis, so we hope St. Louis cares."
And if St. Louis cares, maybe Columbia will, too — and then maybe Kansas City and Lawrence, Kansas. Ideally, Hesed and Perry aim to take Tower Groove on the road, or at least the local highway, through an I-70 review to endorse partnerships between the scenes.
"We've all seen these ideas throughout our careers, but that's all it amounted to: ideas," says Eric Roy, lead singer of the Hot Liquors. Now that Tower Groove has proved it's serious, he's focused on the future. Shows on a riverboat would be cool, he says, but first there's the matter of cementing stability and a reputation as a friend of St. Louis sound. "This time, it's finally being taken seriously and professionally enough to change the map of St. Louis rock & roll."