No time to breathe after last week; March is a good month for music lovers in St. Louis this year and the hits just keep on coming. This week Cleveland's punishing hardcore powerhouse Ringwom will play Heartbreakers Rock-n-Roll Saloon on Tuesday; on Thursday the Firebird brings us the Smoking Popes. American Idol songstress Kelly Clarkson comes to the Fox Theatre on Friday -- the same day independent radio station KDHX is sponsoring a Tom Waits Tribute concert with several local artists. Considering the diametric opposition of the nature of these two shows (independent radio and American Idol™®©), it seems doubtful that there'll be much attendee crossover or conflicted fans that night. More shows for this week follow:
Cheap Girls Mon., March 12, 8:00pm @ The Firebird - $10 By Michael Dauphin There's something about guitar-based, pop-oriented rock music that has allowed it to stand the test of time. Big Star, Cheap Trick, the Replacements, the Lemonheads, Gin Blossoms, Superchunk... the list goes on and on. None of these acts felt obligated to rely on over-the-top instrumentation or bells and whistles. All, however, remained true to crafting infectious melodies coupled with sharp guitars and big hooks. Lansing, Michigan's Cheap Girls has taken a cue from all the above and managed to churn out its own blend of punchy pop, supplemented with '90s guitar buzz and witty-as-hell lyrics. W/ The Sidekicks, Luther, Black for a Second, The Haddonfields
Ringworm Tues., March 13, 8:00pm @ Heartbreakers Rock-n-Roll Saloon - $10 By Daniel Hill Led by a vocalist who calls himself simply "Human Furnace", Cleveland's metallic hardcore outfit Ringworm has been beating fans about the face and head with its raw, face-melting riffs and punishing hooks since 1991 -- that's 21 years now. The Victory Records band shows no sign of slowing down, as evidenced by its brutal critically-acclaimed LP Scars, released last summer. The filled-to-the-brim bill is rounded out by Cancer Bats (Distort Inc.), Primitive Weapons (Prosthetic), St. Louis's Everything Went Black (Prosthetic), Enabler (Southern Lord) and Mouthbreather (Island).
Galactic Wed.., March 14, 8:00pm @ The Pageant - $25 By Christian Schaeffer If you wanted to, you could sub-divide New Orleans' musical styles endlessly, from Meters-esque funk to second-line struts to swampy blues-rock. It's easier, though, to turn on a Galactic record and hear all the influences of that city's rhythm and sway in one place. 2010's Ya-Ka May was paid tribute to Crescent City icons and up-and-comers, and the just-released Carnivale Electricos takes that idea to further outposts of Louisiana music. The instrumental funk quintet is joined on record by No Limit soldier Mystikal, Cajun accordion maestro Steve Riley and Rebirth Brass Band trombonist Corey Henry, who will appear at this week's concert.
The Smoking Popes Thurs. March 15, 9:00pm @ The Firebird - $10-12 By Michael Dauphin From this 2011 review: The term pop-punk had an entirely different meaning fifteen or so years ago. Back then, bands like Jawbreaker, The Descendents, Green Day and Screeching Weasel embodied the angsty sneer associated with punk music, but they all leaned on more poignant and desperate aspects of love. More recently, the term has taken on a more insincere, prepackaged slant. It's almost as if haircuts and skin-tight clothes help identify the tired, recycled sound. The Smoking Popes helped define that sound back when it was actually about sound, and it continues to hone in on all the genre's original lovable nuances within its trademark power-pop, lounge punk blend. Last night at the Firebird, Josh Carterer's serene croon sounded as delicate as ever; fractured and helpless in the most endearing way. Crowd favorites like "Rubella" and "No More Smiles" exemplified these elements, as did newer gems "Wish We Were" and "Punk Band." His acoustic take on "Megan" from the band's defining album, Destination Failure, was heartfelt and novel, but it lost some muster without the help of the other two Carterer brothers, Eli and Matt, and the spot-on drumming of Neil Hennessy.
Clank, Boom and Steam! A Tribute to Tom Waits Fri., March 16, 8:00pm @ Off Broadway - $10-13 By Kiernan Maletsky When last we heard from Dave Anderson, he was at the helm of last November's love letter in show form to Harry Nilsson. From golden voice to gravel: He returns with a tribute to Tom Waits. On hand to render the dark bard's tales is a fittingly motley assortment of south city talent and a few friends in the form of Magic City, Demon Lover, Ransom Note, Peck of Dirt, Tenement Ruth, Dock Ellis, Tommy Halloran, Fred Friction, Johnny Vegas, De Los Muertos, Royal Smokestacks and Dubb Nubb. Expect the feeling to be just right. Vocal Exercises: Gargle nails, scream for an hour, take shots of something brown. You've heard it all before.