Arts & Entertainment

  • Best Dance Club

    Velvet

    Gone are the days, at least for now, in Washington Avenue clubland when competition for high-profile DJs meant that we freaks could hear cool house -- and, less frequently, techno and drum & bass -- nearly every weekend. Sadly, now we're punished with no-names clogging up the decks downtown, spinning commercial trance and pop, at least in the spaces that… More >>
  • Best DJ

    DJ Tape

    In an era when every schmuck with a 2000 VW Bug and a pair of Adidas digs in the crates for old vinyl and thinks he's goddamn DJ Shadow, the timing is perfect to take it back -- er, take it back, then forward -- to the middle school. Inspired by the bedroom-based pause-tape phenomenon perfected by low-budget hip-hop heads… More >>
  • Best New Theater Group

    (Mostly) Harmless Theatre

    The (Mostly) Harmless Theatre has produced just two full-scale shows, Defying Gravity and Fuddy Meers (as well as an evening of 10-minute plays), but both displayed polished, mature and professional work worth watching. The ambitious company is under the artistic direction of Robert Neblett, who seems intent on going out on an artistic limb, not just to shock (as many… More >>
  • Best Lifetime Achievement In Radio

    John Ulett

    Dear John: It's hard to believe we've been together for 25 years. Most DJs are lucky if their careers last that long, but somehow you've managed to remain not just employed but employed by the same station for the whole run. Sure, there was that brief suspension when your foray into political satire bombed (no pun intended), but that's just a… More >>
  • Best Topless Club

    Diamond Cabaret

    The always tasteful Diamond went truly upscale this year, installing a members-only section dubbed the Diamond Room that features a so-called data port, which is essentially a soundproof glass booth featuring a small desk and phone jacks so you can get your e-mails out and call the boss to assure him you're actually hard at work. This is a brilliant… More >>
  • Best Imported Theatrical Productions

    Death of a Salesman and War of the Worlds

    This category used to be called Best Play Seen in St. Louis, the implication being that a local production probably wouldn't be the best. This year, we're picking two bests, one imported and one homegrown, not comparing but acknowledging them as different, noncompeting creatures. In this first category, the big event of the year was the stop at the Fox… More >>
  • Best Movie Theater

    Tivoli Theatre

    Newcomers to St. Louis probably don't know that before Loop master builder Joe Edwards renovated the Tivoli, it had fallen into a ghastly state of disrepair. The last days before its doors were boarded up made for hardy cinematic excursions. If it was raining outside the theater, it was raining inside, too. If it was cold outside, it was best… More >>
  • Best Nonmusic Radio Show

    Lavender Limelight, KDHX (88.1 FM)

    This particular category is as much mash note as it is actual award. Linda Serafini and Neil Greppin, the talented hosts of Lavender Limelight, have recently jumped from their long-running and always entertaining gay-news-magazine program to the KDHX Friday-morning show. And although their replacements, Thomas Long and Samantha Fenner, are doing an excellent job, they do have some awfully big… More >>
  • Best Bar/Nightclub

    Way Out Club

    The Way Out Club could easily win in other, more music-oriented categories, as it did last year, when we deemed it Best Rock & Roll Bar. Indeed, the beloved saloon has live music almost every night, an impressive percentage of which is good to great. But we love the Way Out for other reasons, primarily aesthetic ones. Simply put, it's… More >>
  • Best Local Theater Production

    Dinner With Friends

    Hands down, the best production mounted locally was the St. Louis Repertory Studio Theatre's Dinner with Friends, Steve Woolf's flawless interpretation of Donald Margulies' Pulitzer Prize-winning play. This was theater at its best: no gimmicks or blockbuster sets, just a great, close-to-the bone script and four talented actors in a poignant, funny and realistic snapshot of modern relationships. The Rep… More >>
  • Best Radio Station For Music

    WSSM (106.5 FM)

    Since its debut in October, music-intensive "Smooth 106.5" WSSM has been a breath of fresh air in radioland, introducing brightly talented, lesser-known artists such as guitarist Marc Antoine and new-age keyboardist Keiko Matsui and reintroducing past favorites -- Luther Vandross, George Benson and Sade. Smooth jazz is smart, contemporary instrumental music, and the best thing about this format is the… More >>
  • Best Cheap Date

    Beer and previews at the Ronnies 20 Ciné

    As major-studio movies have stripped away more and more of those pesky plots and character-development portions of motion pictures, it becomes possible to consider them as nothing more than long highlight reels. Once you've made that leap, you can decide to forgo watching a flick from beginning to end and just catch previews. Until now, though, the problem has been… More >>
  • Best Alternative-Rock Bar

    Rocket Bar

    Once known as a haven for math-rock and emo-core aficionados, the Rocket Bar now boasts a more inclusive booking policy, one that welcomes '60s jangle-pop, eccentric post-punk and all manner of other alt-rock subgenres. With a healthy mix of national touring bands and high-quality local acts, the Rocket Bar beats out other strong candidates on the basis of its consistent,… More >>
  • Best Rock & Roll Club

    The Pageant

    The Pageant, we're willing to admit, may be too prettified and pristine to qualify as Best Rock & Roll Club. Despite corporate co-optation and an embarrassment (in both senses) of potbellied geezers croaking out 30-year-old hits, rock remains -- at its still-vital heart -- the music of rebellion: scruffy, disreputable, loud, profane, dangerous. Rock & roll clubs tend to reflect… More >>
  • Best Gay Bar

    The Complex - CLOSED

    For Queer As Folk fans, the Complex is about as close as St. Louis can come to Babylon, the club where Michael, Dr. Dave, Brian, Justin, Ted and Emmett regularly socialize. The booming sound system cranks out some great disco/dance tunes while a light show and mirrored disco ball gleam in the bar's industrial steel on the walls and bars.… More >>
  • Best Place To Hear Jazz

    Spruill's - CLOSED

    When jazz guitarist Russell Malone came to St. Louis, he played nice and neat for the freshly shampooed crowd at Bistro Europa, where there's no smoke, plenty of light and free valet parking to lure the suburbanites. Toward the end of the evening, Malone informed the crowd he was bringing up somebody they ought to treasure, St. Louis's own Willie… More >>
  • Best Ethnic Radio Show

    Sabados Tropicales, KDHX (88.1 FM)

    Every Saturday, from 2-4 p.m., Sabados Tropicales features a cultural calendar in a combination of rapid-fire Spanish and English with a selection of salsa, meringue and cumbia from Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Colombia and Panama. Hosts Matthew "Mateo" Mulcahy (originally from Chicago, of Mexican and Irish descent), who has been with the show 11 years, and Yuri Collazos… More >>
  • Best Place To See Rock Chicks Working

    Black Thorn Pub

    Some may call the Black Thorn Pub home simply because it's their neighborhood bar, and a comfortable and friendly bar it is. A wider circle seeks it out because it makes some of the finest pizza on the South Side, and it truly is marvelous pizza. Others, though, are drawn to the modest pub by the magnetic pull of rock… More >>
  • Best Places to Watch a Play

    Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

    Our biggest bugaboo: theaters without fixed seating that insist on lining up their chairs one behind the other. What's so difficult about staggering rows? The various companies who inhabit the ArtLoft Theatre still haven't figured out the best use of that space for either sets or audience; if you're not in the first few rows at most HotHouse or New… More >>
  • Best Fiction Writer

    Qiu Xiaolong

    Death of a Red Heroine is a bona fide hit. The mystery that combines modernist poetry, Chinese cuisine, the Cultural Revolution and a murder that hints of illicit sexual activity in prudish Red China made it into paperback this year, with a blurb from NPR naming it one of the best books of the year. Qiu, who has done a… More >>
  • Best Musical

    Miss Havisham's Fire

    For the second year in a row, the best musical was presented by Opera Theatre of St. Louis; its revamped revival of Dominick Argento's Miss Havisham's Fire was a trim, dynamic and entertaining production. But where oh where can St. Louisans go for a good Broadway musical? The Muny is, well, the Muny: enjoyable but, like a baseball game, more… More >>
  • Best Place To Enjoy a Full Night Of Rock For $12 or Less

    Frederick's Music Lounge

    Operating in its current incarnation for just over a year, Frederick's Music Lounge provides a perfect alternative to the overpriced and oversnooty venues that sometimes seem to be the norm in St. Louis. There's never a cover during the week, and a pitcher of Stag costs less than parking at Riverport. Factor in a lovely patio, where you can escape… More >>
  • Best Hoosier Bar

    One Nite Stand

    If the bar sign featuring a Confederate flag crossed with Old Glory doesn't tell you that this isn't some froufrou fern bar, the big display sign out front, covered with chicken wire, probably will. As you enter, signs are posted prohibiting drinking and loitering outside. Inside, behind the bar, is a posted neon-colored sign establishing: "We reserve the right to… More >>
  • Best Casino

    Harrah's

    We like casinos with plenty of table games and lavish buffets that fill you up for less than a 10-spot, places where you don't have to wait for a seat at the $5 blackjack table, where a fresh drink is always at your elbow and the cocktail waitresses personify glamour. Unfortunately, we're far from Las Vegas, and so Harrah's will… More >>
  • Best Trend In Local Band Merchandise

    Baby T's

    There was a time in the world of band T-shirts when the only rule was "bigger is better," and consequently the baggy slacker look served to androgynize an entire generation of concertgoers. Fortunately, some enterprising St. Louis acts have recently realized that not all 20- to 40-year-old female rock fans want to look like adolescent boys. To that end, local… More >>
  • Best Lesbian Bar

    Novak's Foxhole Bar & Grill - CLOSED

    This friendly neighborhood place features great half-pound burgers (served with fries and your choice of cheese for close to $7), good appetizers and a fun atmosphere. Although you'll probably see more women at Novak's, the bar and grill employs women and men, and both are welcome there. When you order food and drinks at the bar, watch the bartender attach… More >>
  • Best Dance Program

    Compania Nacional de Danza

    Sexy, sexy, sexy. If you were on a date for this exquisite Spanish ballet company at the Fox, undoubtedly you were necking before you got back to your car -- that is, if the ushers hadn't already been forced to pry you to out of each other's arms to extricate you from your seats: "Down in front! Find a room!"… More >>
  • Best Open-Mic Poetry

    Legacy Books and Café

    Every Friday night from 9 p.m.-midnight, poetry becomes Spoken Word Groove. At this venue, free verse and hip-hop meld into dynamic performance, complete with a backup band. Performances runs the gamut from timid first-timers nervously clutching the microphone to spoken-word powerhouse performers such as M.K. Stallings and Zaire Imani. The crowd is supportive either way, often shouting encouragement to the… More >>
  • Best Visiting Artist

    Paul Taylor

    Dance St. Louis and its director, Sally Bliss, scored another grand coup this year by commissioning the organization's first dance piece from America's greatest living choreographer, Paul Taylor. Taylor, 70, arrived in St. Louis with his gorgeous, energetic company to take them through the paces of "Black Tuesday." The piece -- at times light; at times edgy, even horrifying; at… More >>
  • Best Use Of Obsolete Computers

    8-Bit Construction Set

    The 8-Bit Construction Set is an audio love letter to those heavenly early PCs: the Atari and the Commodore 64. Created in the form of a 12-inch record -- you know, an LP -- the release, put out by this city's best record label, Beige, is as much an art object as it is a record. One side is devoted… More >>
  • Best Sculptor

    Soo Sunny Park

    Sculpture is such a tricky little medium because it is such a dilemma for the artist to transcend the object: How do you transform this shape that you made into more than a three-dimensional object that -- if turned over on its side -- would make a nice coffee table? Women sculptors must also get beyond the machismo of sculpture:… More >>
  • Best Slam Poet

    Zaire Imani

    In a smoky bar in the mid-'80s, Marc Smith, a construction worker with a need to read poetry, started an open mic for a less-than-enthusiastic crowd. One night, as a particularly bad poet read, an angry patron shouted, "You suck!" In that moment, competitive performance poetry, known as "slam," was born. A surprising and pathetic outgrowth of slam poetry is… More >>
  • Best Bar Ambience

    Mike & Min's

    Pull out a clean shirt and pull up a chair. Mike & Min's bar in Soulard is one of those places that fits like an old guitar strap. Each bar in this city creates its own mood. M&M's attracts a casual breed on weekends, most of whom appreciate great jazz and blues. The result is a bar ambience unlike any… More >>
  • Best Film Series

    Fontbonne College

    OK, we know we've named the Webster Film Series the best arts institution, and last year we awarded the Fontbonne series, curated by Patricia Brooke and John Hodge, best new film series, but we can't leave well enough alone. Maybe it's because Fontbonne is St. Louis' forgotten college, that covey of buildings you think might actually belong to Wash. U.… More >>
  • Best Theater Troupe Or Company

    Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

    The Rep's preeminence in St. Louis theater is so long established that it's always tempting to cite another company as the year's best as a simple provocation, a break in a boringly long skein of victories. Last year, in fact, we chose to laud Opera Theatre of St. Louis, a world-class institution that shares the Rep's Loretto-Hilton Center space, and… More >>
  • Best All-Ages Anarchist Collective Reopened Under New Management

    Tin Ceiling Theater

    It's a tribute to the long shadow cast by the Centro Sociale -- the Hill-based punk/anarchist spot that existed for about a year-and-a-half at 2700 Macklind -- that just about every advertisement for every event that occurs at the Tin Ceiling includes the parenthetical addition "formerly the Centro Sociale." The Parliament Cheeze theater group that now pays the bills even… More >>
  • Best Gallery Exhibition

    Lezley Saar at the Forum for Contemporary Art

    Lezley Saar's portraits of rappers -- intense, confrontational, like close-ups on the wide screen -- was the antidote necessary to dilute the terrible show of Miles Davis drawings downstairs at the Forum. Even though the Davis scribblings were the main event, the real goods were in Saar's Africans, Rap Thugs-n-Dimes on the third floor. In Saar, hip-hop has found an… More >>
  • Best Post-Weekend Comedown

    Mondays at the Upstairs Lounge

    You may have spent your Saturday getting down to the latest jiggy beats or hard house, but that doesn't mean you're up for it when Monday has kicked your ass and Tuesday is staring you in the face. In keeping with your delicate state, the Upstairs Lounge gives one of the city's more unique and laid-back club nights, a cosmopolitan… More >>
  • Best New Open Mic

    The Shanti

    Anytime less-than-talented performers, armed with a guitar and delusions of grandeur, use drunks as guinea pigs, things can get ugly. Open-mic nights are always a gamble. The Dimby Production Open-Mic Night on Tuesday nights at the Shanti, however, has better odds than most. Here, the drinks flow, Lenny the bartender is friendly, even the bad acts are at least interesting… More >>
  • Best Arts Happening

    Arousal

    Arousal wasn't meant to be known as the exhibit where some guy jerked off in front of everybody, but that's a little like saying the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal really wasn't about sex. Arousal was to be an exhibit in which Saturnalia could be celebrated and explored by artists and audience in a loft space known as the Monkey Building for its… More >>
  • Best Arts Institution

    Webster Film Series

    The Webster Film Series may not sate the hunger of local cinephiles, but it goes a long way toward providing them a more complete meal. Under the direction of Vickie Woods and Catherine Cathers, the Webster series makes evident with each season -- chronicled on a splashy flier that gets marked with highlighter and then magneted to the refrigerator door… More >>
  • Best Rock-Music Programming

    KDHX (88.1 FM)

    Rock may be the best-selling genre of music -- with rap nudging ever closer in second place and what passes for country music coming in a distant third -- but the rock fan's choice of commercial-radio fare is mostly limited to mainstream pap, endorsed by clueless executives and puréed to a predictable corporate mush. Whether the target demographic is paunchy… More >>
  • Best Bizarre Onstage Banter

    Bob Pollard

    It certainly seemed like just another fantastic concert by Guided By Voices that fateful spring evening at Mississippi Nights, but Bob Pollard's bizarre midset rant soon changed all that. An unprovoked Pollard launched into a tirade against Scat Records, the St. Louis-based label that's perhaps best known for releasing the Guided by Voices breakthrough record Bee Thousand. Pollard claimed that… More >>
  • Best Public Sculpture

    Eric Orr's "Oceans of Time" and "North of Yesterday" at the Saint Louis Galleria

    Artificial environments call for a semblance of nature. The little pond that HOK designed in the middle of the Galleria is pretty lame, making an obstacle to walk around rather than an oasis at which to congregate. Artist Eric Orr, who did some wild stuff with blood and glass and the shadows of the pyramids back when artists were doing… More >>
  • Best Local Artist

    James Michael Smith

    James Michael Smith's paintings are wholly present. Painted in rich, textured earth tones, his canvases become a skin, a coat, a broad, intricate curtain. The wrinkles and folds of muslin, obsessive gestures made with charcoal and graphite, safety pins gouging the crustily painted surfaces: The materials are what they are, without a longing for transcendence. Smith says of his own… More >>
  • Best Poet

    Carl Phillips

    Carl Phillips has promised that he won't publish a book next year, so this category will be open to others in 2002. Phillips, who directs the creative-writing program at Washington University, doesn't think of himself as prolific, but the pub dates of his five books are enough to make most everybody else embarrassed: In the Blood (1992), Cortege (1995), From… More >>
  • Best Radio Gimmick

    "Keep Rollin'!" segment, KATZ (100.3 FM)

    Most nights of the week on 100.3 The Beat, you can hear unabashed joy. It comes at the hands of Big Sexy Cool DJ Kaos, who, with a little help from modern technology, conducts a segment called "Keep Rollin!" The concept is pretty simple: We've got cars; we've got phones; we've got radios -- let's make it happen! Callers describe… More >>
  • Best Hype About the Local Arts Scene

    Art in America

    Just in case anyone was wondering, St. Louis has a healthy art scene. Art in America says so. From the Arch to Richard Serra's "Twain" to the Pulitzer Foundation to Laumeier Sculpture Park, there's art here, all right. And artists, too: Michael Byron and Dawn Guernsey, to name a couple with Washington University affiliations. AiA's corresponding editor from Boston, Ann… More >>
  • Best New Building

    Headmaster's Residence, the Principia

    St. Louis architect Adrian Luchini designed a structure that belongs in its landscape. Viewed from above to where it rests near the base of a hill on the Principia campus, the headmaster's residence unobtrusively merges with the terrain. The wide brown span of its roof, built to resemble a bird's wings, glows with a dull luster in the summer sun.… More >>
  • Best Radio Commercials

    Zipatoni Industries on KDHX (88.1 FM)

    We're not really sure what it is Zipatoni does, and the company's as-of-this-moment award-winning radio commercials don't really clear the matter up. The on-air promos hint at some sort of "Zipatoni Global Industrial Complex" and mention that you can make arrangements to tour the facilities -- if you dare. Who knows what the hell goes on there? There's something ominous… More >>
  • Best Glimmer in the Darkness

    The Beat and Q95 Duke It Out

    The commercial-radio pie has been neatly sliced. Each format has a station, each corporate owner is rolling in the dough from this lack of competition. One station for each taste. The result: airwave drivel. No competition means no need for adventure. Boredom. The one shining exception: the hip-hop-radio war between 100.3 FM (The Beat) and 95.5 FM (Q95). Running neck-and-neck… More >>
  • Best Art Gallery

    Mad Art Gallery

    If you really could meet a special someone at an art opening, Mad Art would be the place to do it. Not far from the grand Anheuser-Busch brewery, nestled amid the cozy, historic red bricks of Soulard, is an old police station and lockup that functions astoundingly well as an occasional gallery space. The Soulard jail was best employed last… More >>
  • Best Unseen Hand Shaping St. Louis Music

    Jim Utz, Vintage Vinyl ombudsman

    Look, if you want definitive proof of Jim Utz's greatness as a record-store employee, you're gonna have to dig. Jim is not one of those attention-grubbing, glamour-hog, name-tag-wearing service drones who cheerfully barks, "HI, MY NAME IS JIM! ARE YOU FINDING EVERYTHING OK, AND WOULD YOU LIKE TO BUY SOME MATCHBOX 20 ALBUMS?" every time you mosey down the aisles.… More >>
  • Best Free-Music Venue

    Forest Park Boathouse

    Forest Park is so full of cool shit, we usually barely notice it. The Boathouse is just about the most overlooked nice thing in it. If you're of an aquarian mind, you can rent a canoe and paddle around for an hour. If you're just looking to socialize, you can buy a beer (Schlafly brand included), a glass of wine… More >>
  • Best Museum Exhibit Of 2001

    Christian Marclay

    For those who go to the St. Louis Art Museum to get away from the banality of television, Christian Marclay's Currents exhibition might have been cause for revulsion. There in the middle of the gallery was a big boob tube showing Michelangelo Antonioni's Blowup, but the sound didn't match David Hemmings' sojourn into '60s cool. Rather, Marclay dubbed the audio… More >>
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