Dance Moves

Radar Station traces the twists and shakes of the local club scene

Jun 23, 2004 at 4:00 am
Despair not, fans of St. Louis DJ culture. The scene has been hit hard with the closing of Washington Avenue stalwarts Tangerine and Lo (not to mention the DJ-friendly Lafayette Square coffeehouse The Chocolate Bar). The Halo Bar's decision to discontinue DJ nights as well may leave you feeling all dressed up and no place to dance.

But there is hope on the horizon. Some local bars are picking up the slack for their fallen brethren, and a couple of new additions to the DJ scene suggest that while Washington Avenue certainly isn't dead (let's not beat that horse again), some other local neighborhoods might be ready to give it a run for its money.

Aside from the way-cool décor (love those hanging plastic panes between booths), the one thing most people are going to miss most about Lo is its Wednesday-night sake specials, served hot or cold with big dollops of '80s music. But right down the street at Rue 13, they've taken on the special as their own, going so far as to buy out Lo's sake stock and bring in a lot of the Lo employees.

Lo's Thursday-night drum 'n' bass parties were a more specialized taste than the sake bombs, but devotees of that pounding style can move their Thursday-night plans over to Velvet, where they're dropping the stuttering beats in the front room.

The shuffling continues down on Delmar, where the Halo Bar has dropped the turntables in favor of just being a bar (and everyone's favorite waiting room to the Pageant). But a mere block away, the Delmar Lounge has launched itself as a major purveyor of vinyl sounds. While you probably won't hear a lot of house music from Vintage Vinyl disc-slinger and shaggy man-about-town Jim Utz on Tuesday nights, Friday nights with DJ Alexis promise big fat beats, especially on the first Friday of the month, when the whole Hot House Sessions gang drops by.

Hip-hop fans can hit the Delmar on Saturday nights for DJ C. Beyond. They should have considered switching this to Friday nights to pair up with the Science down in Blueberry Hill's Duck Room: It wouldn't be competition, it would be synergy.

Speaking of synergy, the Central West End is slowly but surely gaining ground as a weekend locale. On the same corner as the never-closing Coffee Cartel (which has started serving alcohol, God help us all -- the place was a wild enough late-night scene when all they dealt in was caffeine), the Drunken Fish has opened a new location where the Asian Grill used to be (and it's about time -- the Asian Grill hung on like an old, rich aunt). They've already spiffed the insides with dark red lights (and I'm betting the food is better). Now they've decided to throw a DJ into the mix on Friday nights: You can check out the funky house of DJ Curt Becker this weekend.

Let's add it up. Aside from this new action, you've got: so-packed-you-can't-breathe Top 40 bar M.P. O'Reilly's across the street, the high-power meat market Café Eau in the Chase Park Plaza and the soon-to-be-open, very-promising-looking Subzero half a block away. The corner of Maryland and Euclid, cobblestones and all, may become a new ground zero for club culture here in the Lou.

Not that I'd count Wash. Ave. out just yet. Or the Landing, where Club Buca's huge patio bar is spinning music several notches above what the neighbors are playing. Or South Grand, where the Upstairs Lounge is feeling pretty lonely right now, but there's plenty of room to improve. Or....

If you missed the RFT Music Awards ceremony last week, you missed one hell of a show, including an awesome supergroup supernova with the Trip Daddys inviting members of different bands onstage to tear apart songs one by one. A real highlight was watching Jason Triefenbach of the Electric get onstage in a white preacher's robe, carrying a crutch and claiming that rock & roll healed him. He then decimated the The Stooges classic "I Wanna Be Your Dog" with the Daddys behind him.

You might not be able to see that again, but you can catch the Electric opening for newly anointed Best Hard Rock Band Shame Club this Saturday at the Rocket Bar. Make a weekend of it: Check out the new Best New Band the Sex Robots Friday night at the Hi-Pointe along with Best Instrumental nominee Ring, Cicada. Or make a long weekend of it by dropping by the Creepy Crawl Sunday to watch Best New Band nominee the Hailmarys open up for the emo-folk of Motion City Soundtrack.

Also coming through this week: Wanda Jackson, the grandma of rockabilly, brings her 66-year-old badass self to Off Broadway on Thursday. Last year's "Heart Trouble" showed that this woman still has the chops to rock crowds full of people half her age. The new, lean lineup of local boys the North Country play at Radio Cherokee with the excellent Columbia outfit Billy Shue and the Foundry. And, if you didn't get enough twang at Twangfest, return to the scene of the crime (the Duck Room, that is) for the crafted country sounds of the Lost Trailers.