Friday, December 31; Hi-Pointe

For ten years, St. Louis alt-industrial outfit Bellyfeel has fought in the war we refer to as "national exposure" and won more than a few of the battles. In 1995, before the band had even completely formed, vocalist Tim Gebauer managed to earn a slot for Bellyfeel's concept on KPNT's very first Pointessential compilation with a home recording of "Swallow." Once the band had fully assembled, the only direction the lads seemed to know was "up." Airplay on alternative stations across the country and tour dates with the likes of Gravity Kills, God Lives Underwater, Filter and Machines of Loving Grace added up to a lot of attention, including a feature in Billboard in the band's first year of existence.

At first listen, you probably heard a lot of Catherine Wheel in Bellyfeel's sound. Like the former, the latter's shuffling, guitar-heavy hooks combined with Gebauer's breathy vocal delivery to resonate physically and emotionally in listeners -- a fairly important duality in pop music. But then the synths, samples and ultra-low frequency kick drums fell into the mix. You heard an equal portion of Nine Inch Nails, and Gebauer's dramatic baritone began sounding a bit Reznor-esque. The combination worked well enough to convince you and a lot of other people across the country to dance with wild abandon and buy the Long SlowBurn LP.

Throughout the band's career, Bellyfeel was chunky and satisfying without complication or cloying heaviness -- not unlike some of the better clam chowders we've had. Still, every bowl of clam chowder must eventually come to an end, and so it is with Bellyfeel. It is the close of an era in alternative rock (or did the alternative rock era end already?), and it's time for us to say goodbye to Bellyfeel along with 2004. If you've been a fan, your New Year's Eve plans are sealed.

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