In an effort to make amends, Radar Station agreed to serve as a judge in Cicero's third annual Battle of the Jambands. (Please direct all complaints about musical terminology to Cicero's management.) We heard three bands Thursday evening, a group that had been winnowed down from nine in previous rounds. The survivors were CPB, a sextet with a trombone and saxophone; Caravan, which sounded a little like the Grateful Dead and a little like the Allman Brothers; and Bockman's Euphio, a double-keyboard-driven, light-show-enhanced outfit that almost reminded us of the Meat Puppets for one blissful second. CPB got the most points from Radar Station because we absolutely adored one of their songs, which sounded like Afro-pop à la King Sunny Ade. However, they lost a few points when they launched into a horrifying white-boy rap -- right when they were supposed to be getting their stuff off the stage. "I don't want to hear bands I like for an hour," griped fellow judge Tony Renner (of KDHX, 88.1 FM). "Not even my own band!"
The next act, Caravan, scored points in the profanity department with their charming ditty "Fucked-Up Son of a Bitch," but otherwise they bored us with their lack of dynamics and their excessive noodling. It should be noted, however, that another judge, Drea Stein (also of KDHX), liked them best of all; go figure. Bockman's Euphio, probably the tightest of the three bands, had the crowd twirling like dervishes with their keyboard-heavy funk and trippy light show. We gave them almost as many points as we gave CPB, and they went home with the prize: studio time at Smith-Lee, under the supervision of John-John, expert soundguy and self-professed music-hater.
To some, rock & roll equals Dionysian release, dangerous sex and sexy danger, leather pants and track marks and heavy black eyeliner. To John Lennon, it was simple: Chuck Berry. Maybe it's easier to stanch the torrent of free association and define rock & roll by what it's not: the "exclusive sex, drugs and rock & roll" issue of St. Louis Magazine, which is many things but never, not for one nanosecond, remotely rock & roll. Granted, we didn't expect the ghost of Lester Bangs to rear its greasy head in the glossy full-color monthly, the readership of which consists primarily of West County matrons with an interest in interior decorating, fur coats and luxury sedans. Still, we hoped for a smidge more edge in this, supposedly the "raciest issue ever."
Sadly, the "sex, drugs and rock & roll" issue is resolutely edge-free. The "sex" section includes a lingerie spread and a nicey-nice survey on "Sex, St. Louis Style." (Don't tell anyone, but most St. Louisans, in stark contrast to the rest of the country, disapprove of bestiality!) The articles about drugs are one-sided and drearily admonitory, rife with implicit tsk-tsks and suspiciously fake-sounding dramatic scenarios straight out of an ABC Afterschool Special. The "rock" part of the equation boils down to a puff piece on Toya; an article about local teenboys the Shampoo Sharks; a tiny Q&A with Nelly; and short, matter-of-fact profiles on Gravity Kills, Bits 'N Pieces and Mesh. Not all these artists are horrible, of course, but the drippy press-kit tone renders the most interesting among them as stale and safe as, well, St. Louis Magazine.
Take, for example, the last sentence in Kimberly Leydig's opening editorial-cum-lecture: "Hopefully, this story will inform parents and young adults alike that the fleeting euphoria offered by drugs like ecstasy is more ravaging than rapturous." Beyond this statement's unracy unrockness is a thick wall of bullshit. Radar Station is acquainted with several people who partake of E and other so-called club drugs, and they all seem just fine, thank you very much. Besides, everyone knows that Sly and the Family Stone, Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Lou Reed and countless others made their best music while fucked up on drugs. Where would the Ramones be without inhalants, for the love of God? To undo the damage St. Louis Magazine has wrought on the sacred triumvirate, Radar Station urges you all to seduce a stranger, shoot up and rock the fuck out.
For all you eggheads out there who like rap but tire of its pervasive consumerism, mindless violence and extravagant devotion to female buttocks: You're in luck. On Sunday, Nov. 4, the Gargoyle (on the campus of Washington University) will host what promises to be the best hip-hop show of the season. Atmosphere, Eyedea & Abilities, Sage Francis, Deerflesh, Dos Noun and Dee Jay Bird -- some of the country's most interesting underground DJ-and-turntable teams -- will prove once and for all that hip-hop needn't be all about the bling-bling; it can easily encompass Christian-conservative terrorists, humiliating encounters with prostitutes, dirty catboxes and the drawbacks of a career in the food-service industry. All for a mere 7 bucks.