By Kris Wernowsky
By Chaz Kangas
By Joseph Hess
By Julie Seabaugh
By Mike Appelstein
By Rachel Brodsky
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
As 2012 draws to a close, publications nationwide are indulging in retrospection, publishing lists of bests and worsts and every little thing that falls in between. This practice serves not only as an enjoyable and informative way to fill the time, but also as a great big appreciation to the people responsible for bringing us the music that moves us.
There is plenty to be remembered this year. It was a year marked by adventure for local musicians, many of whom set up tours and made trips out of town with noteworthy frequency in the last twelve months. It was a year of loss as well, with some of our city's beloved players — David Peaston, Tim Mize, Jon Ashline and others — exiting to enter that great big greenroom in the sky.
Though of course the date is just a number, and the many-headed beast that is St. Louis music heads into the new year with as much steam as ever. We eagerly await long-labored recordings from the likes of Pretty Little Empire and the soon-to-be ten-year-old So Many Dynamos. The venue landscape, as always, is shifting — rumors abound about every warehouse big enough to hold a stage and a bar. KDHX (88.1 FM), which made the news quite a bit in this, its 25th year, figures to do so again, with a move upward into a huge new space in Grand Center.
But it will invariably be the things we can't see coming that will mean the most to us over the next twelve flips through the calendar. The bricks of this city have long ago settled, but those who inhabit them seem to grow more restless and creative by the day. But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let's look back at the events that made 2012 so memorable in the local music scene.
—Daniel Hill and Kiernan Maletsky
1/10: Twenty-two-year-old Swedish producer Avicii sells out the Pageant.
Second week sometime: Doom Town completes a triumphant trip to the Continent. Hauntingly catchy St. Louis punk band Doom Town returns from a three-week European adventure. The tour takes Doom Town through Scandinavia, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and the Czech Republic and serves as an appropriate beginning for a year that will see out-of-town jaunts from many St. Louis artists and bands. —Daniel Hill
1/28: Darin Gray comes home. Local avant-garde bassist Darin Gray makes his first in-town appearance in four years at the Kranzberg Arts Center to kick off his tour with international drum menace Chris Corsano. Living St. Louis sax legend Dave Stone chips in on a downright frightening free-improvisation performance. —Ryan Wasoba
2/1: David Peaston passes away at the age of 54. In the last years of his life, gospel and R&B singer David Peaston — son of St. Louis gospel matriarch Martha Bass and brother to Fontella — fought, sang and recorded through the diabetes that took both his legs and, ultimately, his life. His voice was titanic, a colossally high tenor that lifted songs like "Two Wrongs (Don't Make It Right)" and "Can I?" to the top of the Billboard R&B charts in the late '80s and early '90s. He was blessed with a great gift; we are blessed to still have his music. —Roy Kasten
2/15: A River City monster is born. Demonlover demonstrably impacts the weirdness quotient of downtown St. Louis with its loud, hilarious, tuneful debut: an act the trio would build upon over the course of a tumultuous year. —Kiernan Maletsky
2/22: Jane's Addiction kicks off a U.S. tour at the Pageant.
3/7: Raekwon misses his own Washington University party. Following a lengthy period of uncertainty owing to several come-and-gone estimated arrival times, Washington University pulls the plug on its scheduled Raekwon show and issues everyone refunds. Fifteen minutes later the Wu-Tang Clan rapper arrives, disappointed and angry with the decision; the next day he plays a makeup show at Washington Avenue's Jive & Wail. —Daniel Hill
3/9: Radiohead dances its troubles away at the Scottrade Center. Radiohead brings great music, pretty lights and a transcendent set. Add in the feeling of connection with thousands of others in the same room, and this is what all stadium bands should aspire to accomplish. —Jaime Lees
Somewhere after that in March: Encapsulated Studios opens, expands and immediately kicks ass. Mike Jones and and his Maplewood-based I Hate Punk Rock Records expand their growing empire to include the new Encapsulated Studios. In addition to the state-of-the-art recording facility, Encapsulated houses affordable practice spaces for bands, an in-house screen-printing operation and lodging (including a kitchen) for out-of-towners on the road. The label itself gets a slight makeover as well, appropriately renaming itself Encapsulated Records. Local heroes like Fister (which RFT Music named Best Metal Band this year) and Better Days (this year's Best Punk Band) take advantage of Encapsulated's all-inclusive, fully DIY capabilities and work with the label on their releases. (DH)
4/20: Blank Space opens. Kaveh Razani, who is the sort of man who gets notes from strangers in coffee shops complimenting him on his conversational verve, brings his energy and open mind to the former home of curious curio shop Cranky Yellow. He and his collaborators will face miles of red tape, but they will also quickly develop a ground zero for cross-scene commingling. Walk in on a given night several months down the road, and you're equally likely to find a forum for rappers visiting from Africa or a punk-rock cassette-release show. (KM)