On Saturday, December 17, St. Louis hardcore punk act Bastard Squad will host the Holiday Bizarre, a festive showcase of local artists and vendors. This is the third time the band has helmed the annual celebration, and the first time it is being held at Off Broadway.
“We like to put together holiday events, with Halloween being the most important one, but we also know people need something fun to do to unwind around [Christmas],” says Don Brazel, a.k.a. Don Bastard, lead vocalist for Bastard Squad and owner of south county music store the Record Space. “We try to provide a fun night to escape all the stress.”
In addition to Bastard Squad, this year’s lineup will include eclectic hip-hop artist Jay Coast, dance-punks NITE FRVR and indie/punk rock band Chainsaw Boyz. Brazel and the other members of Bastard Squad selected the supporting artists with the intention of providing a mixture of musical genres and experiences for their audience. The event is co-sponsored by Brazel’s record label, aptly named the Record Label, as well as St. Louis’ own 4 Hands Brewing Co.
Bastard Squad has existed in multiple iterations since its founding in 1997, with St. Louis native Don Brazel being the sole original member. In addition to Brazel, the band’s current lineup consists of bassist Joe Manwarren, guitarists Kevin Tomorrow and Josh Edwards, and drummer Adam Gardner, the band’s latest addition and a veteran of California’s Bay Area hardcore punk scene. Earlier this year the group released a new EP, Hideaway, and its members are currently writing material for a second full-length album.
Named after the fictional show-within-a-show from British sitcom The Young Ones, the band’s sound harkens back to the golden age of hardcore punk when bands like the Dead Kennedys, Bad Brains and Black Flag reigned supreme. The band has played the local circuit for years, and has opened for internationally famous punk acts such as the Adicts, Bad Brains vocalist H.R., and Fear.
Indie rapper Jay Coast is a close friend of Brazel’s and has become a staple of Bastard Squad’s local showcases. He is the son of DJ Ranx, member of the St. Louis reggae group Dubtronix and host of the KHDX show Dub Mixture. Jay credits his father as both an inspiration to his music and a role model for his career as an aspiring professional musician. He describes his own music as “funky, soulful and pure vibes,” citing influences as diverse as Prince, Tyler the Creator and Thelonious Monk.
Jay Coast has been prolific since his 2019 debut, with multiple albums released annually, most recently 2022’s SVRFVCE LVL Pt. 1. He has performed at a variety of St. Louis venues, with the Sinkhole being a personal favorite, and is currently booking his first performances outside of the city.
Electropop revival act NITE FRVR was formed in 2020 by Jared Pitonak and Patrick Kablamo, who later recruited Jed Buechele and Andy Garces from other local bands. The group’s music combines electronic synth and drum tracks with live instruments and vocals, creating a sound they describe as a combination of New Wave and video game music. Bands like the Bravery, the Rapture and the Killers, who similarly combine elements of dance music and rock, are among NITE FRVR’s primary influences.
The band has performed at a variety of locations, including the Heavy Anchor, the Sinkhole and even comics and games store Apotheosis Comics. It was among the acts featured at this year’s Tower Grove Pride fest and Porchfest, an annual event in which local musicians perform on the front porches of residences in the Skinker DeBaliviere neighborhood. NITE FRVR released its second EP All the Boys earlier this year, and its members are currently working on their first full-length album.
Chainsaw Boyz is a five-piece punk band featuring vocalist Maddie Garland, guitarists Chloe Halls and Julia Maret, bassist Dru Thornhill and drummer Gabe Lancia. The band’s members draw significant inspiration from the Riot Grrrl subculture, which famously combined feminism, punk rock and politics, and spawned celebrated groups like Sleater-Kinney and Bikini Kill. They also take cues from female-led hard rock bands such as Veruca Salt and the Runaways.
Chainsaw Boyz recently released its first EP, Kill List, which combines tight punk instrumentals with social critiques of toxic masculinity and the blandness of suburbia (sample lyric: “Someday I want the confidence of an average white man/Someday I want the confidence of a soccer mom in a mini-van”). The band competed in this year’s Bitter Jester Music Festival, an annual charitable event in which local artists through the Midwest contend for various prizes, including a gig at Chicago’s Navy Pier. Chainsaw Boyz has played at many venues throughout St. Louis, including Blueberry Hill, Red Flag and Off Broadway.
Brazel has been a consistent supporter of local musicians, using both his store, label and his role in Bastard Squad to host and promote events throughout the city. His label’s current lineup includes pop-punk band Horror Section and experimental metal group the Lion’s Daughter.
“My role in the local music scene has just been to express myself, put on events and provide a safe space for everyone interested in the kinds of stuff I’m interested in,” said Brazel. “It’s really that simple! Like Lincoln said in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure ‘Be excellent to each other, and party on dudes!’"Coming soon: Riverfront Times Daily newsletter. We’ll send you a handful of interesting St. Louis stories every morning. Subscribe now to not miss a thing.
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