The 2012 RFT Music Showcase Lineup for June 2

The 2012 RFT Music Showcase Lineup for June 2

The 2012 RFT Music Showcase is here: This Saturday, June 2, more than 80 bands and artists from St. Louis will give a crash course on this city's vibrant musical output. It's more than you can hope to hear. So that's why, in the pages that follow, you can find a brief introduction to each performer or group. Plan your day using the schedule on page 22, and, if you're anything like us, you'll have ditched your careful plot by 6 p.m. in favor of just wandering from venue to venue.

But this is just a glimpse of all the great things happening in St. Louis music. The lineup for the showcase is drawn from our list of nominees for the RFT Music Awards — all 125 of them are listed at right. You can find more information about each of them at And, of course, the talented artists in this area are too numerous and nimble to be contained in one festival or awards series. Your new favorite band, whether it appears in these pages or not, may be within an arm's length.

Outdoor Stage

2:00 Nite Owl (Hip-Hop Solo)
With more than eight albums (that's original albums, not including mixtapes) and countless shows under his belt to date, Nite Owl has been recognized as one of the hardest-grinding emcees in the 'Lou for several years running. Local Celebrity snagged the top-selling spot at Vintage Vinyl when it dropped last year, and his upcoming release, Collabo Queens, is full of promise as well; it's slated to boast twenty all-new tracks, each featuring verses from one of nine female rappers. Regardless of his consistency, one shouldn't take Nite Owl's work ethic for granted. The 37-year-old veteran has plans for a few more projects — such as a greatest-hits album recorded live at Blueberry Hill — but he says that by the time he hits 40, he'll be calling it a wrap. Calvin Cox

3:00 DJ Sir Thurl (DJ)
Well-known as "The Official Party Starter," Sir Thurl has been a force on the St. Louis hip-hop and party scene for more than fifteen years. DJ Kut — Nelly and the St. Lunatics' "flagship" DJ — took him under his wing and brought him into the game, and ever since, Sir Thurl has spun for nearly everyone who has come up in the area, including gold-selling artist Murphy Lee. Sir Thurl is the CEO of Allstar DJ Service and has a prime spot on Hot 104.1 FM as half of the Lou Gotti Boyz — with DJ Cuddy — and the host of STL Playlist Mix. He DJs at the Loft and the JunKyard Bar and Grill and recently collaborated with Murphy Lee on the mixtape Mr. Winter Time: I'm Cold. Tony D'Souza

4:00 Yo Banga (Hip-Hop Solo)
An OG with the north side's JeffVanderLou Bloods, Yo Banga didn't start rapping until he spent nearly five years in prison on drug and weapons charges. Since his parole in 2008, he's gone on to become the "Tupac of St. Louis." His music comes directly from his life on the streets; his gritty lyrics pull no punches about the violence or glories of the gangsta lifestyle he once lived. In 2011, he released his first full length album Fresh Out The Blender, and has opened at the Ambassador for Rick Ross, T.I., Mystikal and Birdman. Having lost numerous friends to prison or gang turf wars, Banga hopes his music will influence current gang members to scale down the killings in America's "Most Violent City." TD

5:00 Warm Jets USA (Rock)
For more than a decade now, Jason Hutto has been one of St. Louis' premier ambassadors for overdriven, loud rock. Prior bands, such as Sexicolor and the Phonocaptors, pummeled our town with righteous riffage and raucous shows, so it's no small feat that Warm Jets USA might be Hutto's most aggressive act yet. In Chris Keith and Evan Bequette, Warm Jets has a rhythm section that can match Hutto's guitar heroics decibel for earsplitting decibel. The power trio mines late-'80s and early '90s indie rock for its punishing sound (Dinosaur Jr. is a notable touchstone). But underneath the layers of glorious fuzz and bludgeoning drums are smartly written rock anthems that hit at a gut level. As proven by ballads like "Down on the Record," Warm Jets doesn't need all the sonic carnage to create affecting rock. Still, the power of its hellacious assault is impossible to deny. Bob McMahon

6:00 Bug Chaser (Psych)
Hailing from the state streets of south city, Bug Chaser continues to fill the gaping void for fans of organic krautrock and intergalactic psychedelia. While its effective use of repetition recalls the trance-inducing hooks of Can and Neu!, the band's fluid motion easily transitions to the unrelenting progression of psychedelic forefathers Chrome and Hawkwind. Where contemporary bands often lose themselves in the endless monotony of weed-filled jams, Bug Chaser focuses its songwriting into a dynamic blend of warring guitar riffery and syncopated rhythm. Offset by vocalist Pat Grosch's teen-wolf howl, the band jettisons forward through eight-minute songs with a hard-edged gnarl not of this world. Unlike the analog elite of the 1970s, guitarist Jake Jones and soundscape artist Jeff White's full embrace of the digital age allows their innovative production and on-point sampling to bloom into a sonic collage of futuristic proportion. Josh Levi

7:00 Thi'sl (Hip-Hop Solo)
Let's face it. In some areas of St. Louis, it is entirely too possible to claim to having grown up in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the country. But Travis Tyler (who raps under the name Thi'sl) actually did, and on those streets he sold crack cocaine, witnessed his cousin's death and watched his life change as his blunt, visceral rhymes grew out of bitter life experience and donated studio time. It was there, too, that he returned from a mistaken arrest for first-degree murder, and it was there he found God. Through his two full-length releases, 2009's Chronicles of an X-Hustler and fall iTunes chart-topper Beautiful Monster, Thi'sl narrates both his own story and his neighborhood's through powerful, biting insight and dramatic hooks. "And I ain't turning back," he rasps on his most recent release, "This is survivor music." Kelsey Whipple

Copia Restaurant & Wine Garden

7:15 Theresa Payne (Soul)
Pity whoever follows Theresa Payne onto a stage. On record, the singer is powerful and passionate — her influence from the worlds of gospel and hip-hop lend weight and vitality to her work. Live, she will put you on your knees. No studio can hope to capture the enormity of her voice or the way she so visibly acts as a conduit for her art. Get a taste with 2012's excellent The Moment EP, and don't miss her next gig. Kiernan Maletsky

8:30 Palace (Chamber Pop)
The peaks and pitfalls of youth remain a bottomless inspiration for artists who are well past adolescence — just ask Wes Anderson and his myriad revisions of romantic, hyper-literate childhood. Local quartet Palace isn't as precious in its exploration of endless summers and bubbling-over hormones, but the effect is less nostalgic than in-the-now invigorating. This band harnesses the power of boys and girls playing together better than most in town: Guitarist Matt Kavanagh and keyboardists Jamie Finch and Sydney Scott share vocal duties but are at their best when they sing in tandem, with help from drummer Danny Hill. The stacked harmonies on songs like "I'm Still Learning" are as sticky as Dreamsicles in the July sun, and Palace's choir-kid chops are enlivened with bouncing piano chords and quick-wristed guitar strokes. Summer can't last forever, but Palace's self-titled debut lets the sun shine regardless of the forecast. Christian Schaeffer

9:45 Dots Not Feathers (Chamber Pop)
Dots Not Feathers posseses as strong a four-part harmony as any band in St. Louis — better than you'll find most anywhere, really. And there's more: plenty of chops, a wide-ranging influence from gospel to the litany of brainy folkies out there to jazz. You can even hear some of its members old guitar-rock instincts coming through. Last year's Come Back to Bed is charming and revealed a nimble band with some promise. The early returns on the new stuff — the two-track Mountain EP thus far — are a different matter entirely: The ensemble can now make sudden and dynamic turns, its players are as assured as professionals, and its lyrics are precise and evocative. KM

11:00 Pretty Little Empire (Americana)
What makes Pretty Little Empire a band, rather than a vessel for singer-songwriter Justin Johnson's songs, is the palpable, no-frills tension and release that attends the group's best songs. Left to his own devices, Johnson tunnels headlong into songs of human weakness, earthen pleasures and the persistence of memory; Will Godfred (guitar), Wade Durbin (bass) and Evan O'Neal (drums) turn those barnstormers and dirges into pulsing crescendos. On the quartet's most recent LP, Reasons and Rooms, Pretty Little Empire broadens its palette to include some piano-led gravitas ("Reasons Are Wrong"), minimalist chill-outs ("Mornings Been Hard") and boisterous sing-alongs ("Dakotas"). The band has plans to release its third album later this year, and its in-studio prowess provides a nice counterpoint to an engrossing live show that always aims for the rafters. CS

12:15 Old Lights (Indie Rock)
That we've yet to hear much more music from Old Lights since the 2011 release of the sparkling, accomplished Like Strangers ten-inch owes largely to leading light David Beeman's in-demand, diverse talents. As a producer and engineer at Native Sound studio and a member of synth-pop group Née, Beeman seems to be as interested in contributing to his peers' music as he is in further illuminating his own via Old Lights. With a wiry voice that recalls Eric D. Johnson of the Fruit Bats, a thirst for melody that suggests Elvis Costello at his poppiest and a band that can rock, skip and stroll through the post-Fleetwood Mac landscape, Beeman may be taking his time with Old Lights, but whatever comes next will be essential listening. Roy Kasten

The Dubliner

5:15 Trixie Delight (Cover)
Anyone can hack her way through the classics. It takes enormous musical talent to separate a cover band from the pack in a city like St. Louis. Fortunately, that's exactly what Trixie Delight has. Frontwoman Kelly Wild has more than enough chops to deliver the divas we all know and love, and she has enough soul to share the stage with legendary Texas songwriter Alejandro Escovedo, as she did at a recent show at Off Broadway. Wild also lends her talents to the two largest tribute nights in St. Louis — the Led Zeppelin homage Celebration Day and the annual juggernaut that is El Monstero. KM

7:15 Campfire Club (Folk)
With the recent wave of neo-crunchy folk-pop bands like the Head and the Heart, Blind Pilot, the Lumineers and all the rabble of their followers, it's getting harder and harder to separate the wheat from the chaff. The musicians — sometimes as many as five, sometimes fewer — of the Campfire Club have begun to distinguish themselves on the strength of Ryne Watts' songs, which have all the romantic optimism of youth and campfires, but which also have dry wit, that elusive tonic to folky earnestness: "We don't care if anyone can hear," Watts sings on the band's eponymous anthem. "We're not singing for you." That may not be true, because the 'Club's shaggy harmonies beg to be joined in sing-alongs, and the mix of guitars, mandolins, banjos, fiddles and percussion is built for clapping and even dancing along. If these are fireside songs, they're scorched by the tipsy joy of collective music making. RK

8:30 Lonesome Cowboy Ryan & His Dried-Up Teardrops (Country)
Ryan Koenig is a busy, busy man. He's a multi-instrumental virtuoso for Pokey LaFarge & the South City Three, a folksy outfit that's currently touring Europe. When he's not jet-setting, he also performs with the Rum Drum Ramblers and Alley Ghost. If that weren't enough, the "Lonesome Cowboy Ryan" persona is yet another conduit for Koenig to create country music. He released nineteen of his songs for free on his website earlier this year, many of which harken back to laid-back sing-alongs by a smoky campfire. The "& His Dried Up Tear Drops" part of the equation refers to a backing band that includes South City Three compadres Adam Hoskins and Joey Glynn as well as other guests such as Tim Sullivan of the Red Headed Strangers. JR

9:45 The Skekses (Folk)
Fronted by Elly Herget's sympathetic drawl, the Skekses produce world-weary folk so stark and introspective that it could soundtrack both a Wild West film and a Diablo Cody vehicle. (Actually, the now-defunct HBO show Deadwood would have been perfect.) Making lyrical references to crime, love and metaphorical monsters, her voice partners with tender, pared-down instrumentation dedicated to the sounds of yesterlust: temperate banjo, acoustic guitar, upright bass and lazy, wandering beats measured out through maracas and tambourine. The group, which has seen several lineup shifts since its inception, has expanded into a regular trio and occasional quartet. The band hit its stride and signature with its 2010 debut, Notes on the Collapse of an Alternate Universe, and features on the Tower Groove Records compilation. The first full recording with the current lineup, Curse My Name, comes out June 8. KW

11:00 Bob Reuter's Alley Ghost (Americana)
From his half-century of stubborn commitment to rock & roll, Bob Reuter has scars. He also has a smirk; he's seen most of it all before. But this ain't a bygone: Reuter says his current posse of young guns (Mat "Doormat" Wilson, Chris Powers, Bassamp and Big Muddy label founder Chris Baricevic) is the best band he's ever been in. The members' collective résumé includes Rum Drum Ramblers, the Sex Robots and 7 Shot Screamers, and that's just a few recent groups featuring these dudes. Alley Ghost is fresh off the release of Born There, an album of rowdy disdain for conformity written by one of the great spirits in south city. KM

12:15 Troubadour Dali (Psych)
Attracted equally to the fuzzed-out psych-pop of the late-'80s and the unfolding walls of early-'90s shoegaze, Troubadour Dali remains one of the premiere psychedelic bands in the city. Filtered through a wall of reverb and fog, the band's music readily redefines the birth of cool with its lackadaisical melody-driven rock and the unwavering songwriting of Ben Hinn and Kevin Bachmann. Although the influence of bands like the Jesus and Mary Chain, Brian Jonestown Massacre and Dandy Warhols is apparent, Troubadour Dali sets itself apart with a tasteful mix of radiating guitar solos, swashes of white noise and bewildering acoustic instrumentation. Drifting in and out of consciousness, its songs ease into the ether with a strut, never slipping into silence or lacking intensity. JL

1:30 Dogtown Allstars (Soul/Funk)
Perennial favorites, both in these very awards and around town, Dogtown Allstars separates itself from other horn-blowing party-starters with a deep affection for genres and eras ranging from swing jazz to the neo-soul revival exemplified by Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. You can find the four-piece — Drew Weiss on drums, Adam Wilke on guitar and vocals, Nathan Hershey on various keys and Andy Coco on bass — at everything from outdoor festivals to late-night blues bars, always affable and always in the groove. KM

Flamingo Bowl

3:00 Caleb Travers (Singer-Songwriter)
Good songwriters possess the ability to wear their hearts on their sleeve without being labeled as sensitive; Caleb Travers has that gift. His music is indie folk with various undertones of country, rock and a dash of pop to fill the cracks. He released a seven-song EP titled Ain't No Jukebox last fall, a couple years after appearing on the scene. Often performing solo with an acoustic guitar, Travers has a rich tenor that dips and soars as he sings the heartbreaking lyrics of his relaxed songs. Beauty is contained in the space that surrounds his music. His arrangements breathe — a tactic that grabs the listener and doesn't let go. SA

4:15 Dave Black (Jazz)
Known for his versatility as well as his virtuosity, Dave Black excels as a guitarist in a variety of genres, including jazz, blues, rock, classical and Latin. Since moving to St. Louis from his native Indiana in the early 1980s, he's consistently been one of the busiest musicians in town, playing solo gigs, leading a variety of ensembles and supporting fellow performers such as saxophonist Paul DeMarinis, singer and flute player Margaret Bianchetta, guitarist Teddy Presberg, singer-songwriter Javier Mendoza and many others. Black has only recorded a couple of albums as a leader, but his constant gigging definitely has endeared him to local listeners, who voted to make him the winner of the "Jazz" category in last year's RFT Music Awards. Dean C. Minderman

5:30 Mikey Wehling and the Reverbs (New Band)
One of the more obvious commendations for an artist using electronics is to note the humanity of her knob twists and button pressings. Few deserve the compliment as much as Mikey Wehling, a key member of Messy Jiverson in a past life and someone with a deep affection for grooves. His prolific solo output over the last year and a half shows his commitment to analog, and the translation to full band isn't much of a stretch. The songs, in turn, are evolving from lush and patient moods to danceable jams. KM

6:45 Bo and the Locomotive (Indie Rock)
Don't judge a book by its cover, and don't judge an album by its title. If you picked up On My Way, the debut LP from Bo and the Locomotive, you'd be forgiven if the title had you fearing some navel-gazing introspection. (And really, the naked-lady swimmers on the cover should have been your first clue that another kind of navel-gazing was awaiting you.) Bo Bulawsky channeled years spent as a sideman and hours of bedroom recordings into his debut, and it sounds as fully formed and purposeful as the most seasoned bandleaders. He favors the hazy depths of reverb, and that obfuscation smears his words but makes the cumulative effect of his songs crash like muddy waves around your ears. Bo and the Locomotive is a band built from simple parts but constructed with an architect's vision. CS

8:00 Googolplexia (Solo)
Elvis Presley famously opened a Las Vegas residency by announcing, "Ladies and gentlemen, before the evening's out, I'm sure I will have made a complete and utter fool of myself — but I hope you get a kick out of watching." Rob Severson, a.k.a. the Pancake Master, applies that performance approach well with his one-man band Googolplexia. Armed with only his trademark headset microphone, an occasional ukelele or accordion and a head full of witty, often ridiculous songs, Severson stalks the audience and mixes an almost Jonathan Richman-esque guileless sensibility with the ability to rock a crowd, whether or not they came in wanting to be rocked. Severson is also the force behind the local Pancake Productions label, and he'll most likely have a box full of cool merch to sell you after the show. MA

9:15 DJ Needles (DJ)
A long-running favorite in the "Best DJ" category, James Gates (a.k.a. DJ Needles) has pretty much done it all and hit every hallmark of a great DJ along the way. Live radio? Check. Needles has been on the air for ages — he currently hosts Rawthentic on KDHX (88.1 FM). Remix albums? Check. His "Jazzyphatnappy" series is on its eighth volume, let alone the myriad projects in his archives. Beats? Check. Under the pseudonym "Nodzilla," Gates has been producing beats for local artists like Tef Poe, Black Spade and Indiana Rome for years. Credibility? We won't even justify that with a response. Comparing against a résumé as robust as Needles', you'd have a tough time finding anyone better respected among music fans, recording artists and fellow DJs alike. If you've never watched Needles work the turntables, you're doing yourself a huge disservice. CC

10:30 DJ Mahf (DJ)
There are few DJs who exhibit as much exuberance as DJ Mahf. He moves with a freewheeling tilt, an off-axis bend to his motion that gives him the look of someone who isn't taking himself too seriously. It's easy to root for Mahf during his sets. Just one look at him gives you the feeling that he's going to bring the fun. Which is good, because Mahf is a busy man who needs the energy. Two weekly spins, Tuesdays at Pin-Up Bowl and Fridays at Clayton's Area 14, give Mahf enough of a platform to support his — and his IndyGround label cohorts' — latest efforts. And ask yourself: When was the last time you knew a DJ ballsy enough to throw together a mixtape with a mashup of M.I.A, Audioslave, Clipse, Rage Against the Machine and N.W.A. with an intro from Jack Black and Incubus? Blair Stiles

Hair of the Dog

6:00 Demon Lover (New Band)
Once a seminal group of experimental Americana in St. Louis, Theodore dissolved in late 2011, releasing its invaluable artists into the wild. Demon Lover is a power trio, collecting three heads from the aforementioned Theodore. Frontman Andy Lashier has a compelling voice, and he keeps the set grounded with solid bass work. Sam Meyer's rock background provides a powerful rip to the drum sections, while J.J. Hamon reprises his role as the specter of texture, making use of homemade devices to evoke otherworldly sound. There is a hint of punk rock in the band's delivery, with songs privy to experimentation. Demon Lover provides a rare sound, one that feels at home in dusty warehouses and dive bars as well as art galleries and concert venues. Demon Lover's hybrid of genre conventions is distinctly St. Louis, with wild fret-shredding and hometown twang. Joseph Hess

7:15 Better Days (Punk)
Better Days' music has an urgency to it that seems to plead with the world-gone-mad that surrounds it to stop, take a deep breath and remember all the reasons life ain't so bad. After all, there are good friends, good times and great music. Staffed by a who's who list of St. Louis hardcore- and punk-scene veterans (including former members of To No End, the Requiem, Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting and about a thousand more), the band has been playing its high-energy mix of Gorilla Biscuits-meets-Saves the Day-style hardcore punk since January 2010, turning the usually bleak-and-angry posturing of the local scene on its head with unending positivity and some damn good music. Its upcoming debut seven-inch, Good Luck Tonight will be released this summer on St. Louis' venerable I Hate Punk Rock Records; make sure you don't miss the boat. Daniel Hill

8:30 Can We Win (Hardcore)
Born out of the remains of former St. Louis hardcore mainstay Resolve, Can We Win plays a straightforward, no-bullshit style of youth-crew hardcore that calls to mind classics of the genre such as Youth of Today, Floorpunch and Mouthpiece, the latter having written the song that serves as the band's namesake. The longest song on its 2011 demo clocks in at a lean one minute and ten seconds; most tracks don't even reach the minute mark. Drummer David Vaughn punishes his kit at an impressive, hyper-fast speed, dragging the rest of the band along for the ride while singer (and brother) Kevin barks angrily about life's disappointments, lyrically maintaining a refusal to compromise integrity or to accept the unacceptable. Catch the band opening the upcoming Negative Approach show, and watch for its debut seven-inch later this year on Camp Records. DH

9:45 Modern Man (Punk)
No frills, no affected egos, no bullshit: This is earnest punk that tips its hat to all the proper pioneers. With the reckless abandon of Black Flag, the intensity of Minor Threat and Kid Dynamite's infectious sneer, Modern Man peppers the listener like tattooed knuckles on a blood-drenched brick wall. Boston transplant Tony Auger (formerly of the Effort) scowls and snarls hardcore homilies on top of Paul Carr's breakneck Black Sabbath riffage, while the backbeat barrels through in hasty 4/4 timing. It's abrasive and concise in all the right ways. MD

11:00 Bruiser Queen (Rock)
The male/female two-piece band has a long and distinguished history. Way before Jack and Meg, compact bands like the Spinanes and Kicking Giant were making plenty of noise while maximizing precious van space. Over its two-year lifespan, Bruiser Queen has joined that tradition, gradually trimming down from its original four-piece incarnation to the core of drummer Jason Potter and guitarist/songwriter Morgan Nusbaum. On Swears, Bruiser Queen's debut full-length album, Nusbaum applies her trademark wail to her best-crafted batch of songs to date: They are brooding and intricate like her solo material, yet with enough amped-up dramatic hooks to recall Sleater-Kinney or the Muffs at their respective primes. Live, Nusbaum and Potter conjure a full, dense sound that's as powerful as it is memorable. (MA)

12:15 Bunnygrunt (Hall of Fame Inductee)
In the last several of its nineteen year existence, Bunnygrunt has been an RFT Music Award staple, and for a lot longer than that it has been a standard-bearer for messy, nimble pop.

1:30 Volcanoes (Experimental)
Volcanoes started in the most earnest of places — on a laptop in a Lindenwood University dorm room — and erupted into one of the most urgent groups from St. Louis in recent history. In its short career, the duo of Jon Ryan and Eric Peters has received nods from press outlets like Alternative Press and Magnet and joined the roster of elite Minneapolis label Afternoon Records alongside Pomegranates and Poison Control Center. At the core of this upward trajectory is Volcanoes' fiery live shows, the inventive DIY production of Heavy Hands and a strain of pulverizing, buzzing rock that fits as neatly in our "Experimental" category as it would in "Indie," "Rock," "Electronica/Dance" or — if ethics are a factor — "Punk Band." Ryan Wasoba


3:15 Kenny DeShields (R&B)
With a style that he's dubbed "soulternative," Kenny DeShields is trying to breathe new life into the local soul scene. While his lyrics tend to be spiritual in nature, his music has a more secular sound. 2008's Mosaic EP was a satisfying introduction to DeShields as a singer, songwriter and all-around musician. Combining neo-soul instrumentals with his positive and inspirational messages, DeShields tops off his tracks with a satin-smooth voice much like a Carl Thomas or Dave Hollister. In between sessions with other artists like Theresa Payne and rapper Thi'sl, KD is hard at work on his next album, The Real Love Project, which is due out this fall. CC

4:30 Humdrum (Indie Rock)
Humdrum hasn't skipped a beat since guitarist Gareth Schumacher left the mercurial Midwest weather for the sun-glazed coasts of California. It has been recording an album with Steve Albini and mixing it with Jay Pellicci at San Francisco's Tiny Telephone studios. Aside from polishing that, its third LP, the band is still an active live presence in St. Louis. Its second album, The Arrangement, is as loopy as a space cadet. The band can bounce from cloying piano parts and guitar riffs ("Reproduce") akin to the Hush Sound to sincere ("Hello Hello Hello") in two tracks' time. Dan Meehan's voice has the thin echo of a penny dropped on marble. Its tinlike sound is sharp, pleasant and achingly sweet. Bill Streeter's Lo-Fi Saint Louis series recently recorded a video for "I'll Find You." Stripped of galactic noises, the band becomes tender and all the more terrestrial. BS

5:45 iLLPHONiCS (Hip-Hop Group/Collective)
In its sixth year together, the hip-hop collective iLLPHONiCS is proving that it's more than just St. Louis' answer to the Roots. On its latest EP, Reality Check, the band sets free heavy guitars and a live rhythm section that rocks the alternative as persuasively as it breaks down the funk, sometimes calling to mind Fishbone even as it finds its own hilariously paranoid sweet spot on a cut like "Attack of the Groupies." But as hard and sometimes lush as the crew's sound can be, it wouldn't catch fire without the flow of emcee and founder Larry "Fallout" Morris, a heavyweight rhymer who balances morality tales with spitfire commentary on everything from suckah critics to millennial fashionistas. RK

7:00 Jeremiah Johnson Band (Blues)
Not to be confused with the old Robert Redford movie or a certain NFL running back, Jeremiah Johnson is making a name for himself as a blues singer and guitarist and a compelling presence on the St. Louis music scene. Johnson first heard the blues as a kid attending school in the Soulard neighborhood, and after living and playing in Houston, Texas, for nine years, he returned home a few years ago to launch his music career in earnest. Since then, he has self-released a couple of CDs while getting steady work on the highly competitive local club circuit, and earlier this year he made it to the semifinals of the 2012 International Blues Challenge in Memphis. DM

8:15 Doorway (Hip-Hop Group/Collective)
Doorway is always on the hustle, its members constantly visible at shows and online, releasing new mixtapes and videos seemingly every week. The group of MCs, which includes WhiteOut, RT-FaQ, L-Gifted, SD and Veo, may be full of young guns, but they're already veterans. Started by WhiteOut and L-Gifted when they were in eighth grade, Doorway's been around for a decade now. And its members know better than to expect handouts. Always positive in outreach and energetic in its delivery, the Metro East-based collective knows there's strength in numbers. KM

9:30 Née (Pop)
Synth-pop gets a bad rap for being all plastic and no heart, as if no one has ever lost his shit to "True Faith" or "Tainted Love." Sure enough, Née's Kristin Dennis shakes plenty of glitter and pomp over her pop-savvy tunes — pulse-quickening drum-machine rhythms keep time for buzzy arpeggios and swooping glissandos that dart around her like neon lightning bugs. But it doesn't take much to tell that Dennis wears her heart on her chiffon sleeve; last year's The Hands of Thieves EP grounded its pop confections with themes of heartbreak and hope. This year has brought the excellent, radio-ready "Pretty Girls" single as well as a solidified four-person lineup featuring long-time drummer Mic Boshans (Humdrum) alongside synthesist Lex Herbert and Old Lights' David Beeman on guitar and keys. As Dennis turns her one-woman project into a full-fledged band, the payoffs increase with the personnel. (CS)

10:45 The Force (Hip-Hop Group/Collective)
With more than twenty members, the power behind the hip-hop collective the Force is its vast wealth of St. Louis musical talent. Including such luminous names as Finsta, Nato Caliph, Tef Poe, Indiana Rome, Rockwell Knuckles and Family Affair, whenever the Force gets together, great hip-hop rules the stage. In the words of one of the group's spokesmen, Nato Caliph, "Commitment. That is the one word that can be used to describe our collective. Our goal is that when you hear the Force, you are instantly transported to a vision of the way things should be. Not only in music, art, fashion, promotion and talent, but most important, in support. We move in a manner which allows for us to be individuals while still being a greater whole. This is what we strive for; this is the Force, and here, everybody wins." TD

Midnight Sleepy Kitty (Indie Rock)
Where would we be without chemistry? Stuck in the primordial ooze, that's where — or worse, in the black nothing out of which something, once upon a big bang, exploded. Sleepy Kitty, the duo of Paige Brubeck and Evan Sult, gets chemistry; the sound that bursts from its drums, guitar and Brubeck's impassioned vocals, sometimes further catalyzed with looping effects and keyboards, has the force of an elemental reaction. Sleepy Kitty's noisy pop and noisier blues fuse with a cool and unpretentious style until the wildness of punk and post-punk becomes artful and tuneful and free as rock & roll should be. RK

1:15 Fresh Heir (Soul/Funk)
In this fragmented modern world of music, few bands have a broad appeal to the masses. Yet local octet Fresh Heir brings a deep appreciation for a soulful past and mixes a large dose of present-day pop and rock to achieve this distinction. Beat-setter Nick Savage plays the role of dynamic frontman from behind the drums. Savage succeeds by allowing guitarist Pete Lombardo, keyboard player Ryan Marquez and Desmond Alexander's trumpet to add their electrifying elements to the rock/pop/soul mashup while the ensemble sprinkles in dashes of jazz and hip-hop to top everything off. With as much groove and ass-shaking power as this group has, it's hard to fathom that there's no bass player. But after dancing yourself into a sweaty frenzy, you won't care. Scott Allen

Lucas Park Grille (Patio)

8:00 Beth Bombara (Singer-Songwriter)
At this point, the "singer-songwriter" label has become just about as cliché as this St. Louisan is not. Wise beyond her years with range beyond her genre, the young, confident crooner has proven a formidable solo force through two EPs and a full-length, as well as stints pairing her light, lovely vocals with Old Lights and Cassie Morgan. Bombara's earnest and occasionally eerie blend of folk, country and the softer side of rock provides a spot-on soundtrack to the city's summers and grocery stores, where her good nature and good tunes make for a solid, if unconventional show. Outside of her clear vocals, Bombara's subtle strengths lie in her backing instrumentation, which follows the same organic, unrushed pattern of arrangement as her intro- and outrospective lyrics. KM

9:15 Cassie Morgan and the Lonely Pine (Folk)
Cassie Morgan sings with the wisdom of someone twice her age and the grace of a child half it. She and Beth Bombara create some of the most reliably transporting folk music in St. Louis or anywhere — their spare constructions and simple harmonies leave plenty of room to absorb Morgan's familiar, honest lyrics. The two last released new music in 2010 with the highly praised full-length, Weathered Hands, Weary Eyes, but they've remained a presence in the city's music world — look for their appearance in Bill Streeter's ambitious "Lo-Fi Cherokee" video series. KM

11:00 Tight Pants Syndrome (Pop)
After having roughly half of St. Louis' musicians shuffle through its lineup over the years, Tight Pants Syndrome seems to have finally settled into a consistent groove. Predominant songwriter Tom Stephens has two excellent surrogates in bassist Brian McClelland and keyboardist Jenn Malzone, both of whom belt out and harmonize Stephens' deliciously absurd lyrics over the bands' '60s- and '70s-leaning power-pop. Stephens and Paul Bordeaux weave jangly guitar riffs and power chords into the quintet's attack while Jeff Hess keeps it all together with his steady drumming. The sum is a pop-rock sugar rush sure to please music nerds of all stripes. BM

Lucas Park Grille (Indoor)

7:30 Langen Neubacher and the Defeated County (Singer-Songwriter)
Langen Neubacher's songs, through their subject matter and delivery, feel something like a hug from a friend. Until recently, she cohosted one of the city's best open-mics at Foam, and her generosity of spirit served her well there, making all calibers of musician feel welcome, as it does in her own work. These days she's playing with Kate Peterson (also of the Spot Ons) under the moniker Langen Neubacher and the Defeated County. But it isn't all warm and fuzzy: Neubacher is keenly aware of the crappy hands dealt to so many, and her lyrics capture simple, honest moments in the struggle. KM

8:45 Middle Class Fashion (Pop)
Middle Class Fashion pianist and lead singer Jenn Malzone often spends her songs brooding in dark moods and minor keys, so it's to her credit that her songs never feel self-indulgent. Part of this is because of the band's catchy hooks, which are big enough to hang your entire wardrobe on. But it's also because Malzone, bassist Brian McClelland and drummer Brad Vaughn keep their arrangements punchy and brisk. The trio gives the piano-driven songs enough room to breathe and lets crescendos gain momentum. Still, no tune overstays its welcome. McClelland contributes inventive bass lines and the occasional great song to the mix, and all three players combine for gorgeous harmonies when the song calls for it. Middle Class Fashion's tight chemistry and clever song construction ensures that its pop songs really pop. BM

10:00 Celia (Pop)
Celia Shacklett finds the child in all her audiences, whether they're eight or thirty years old. It's partly the type of music — her Big Rock Band featuring, among others, Love-O-Rama collective cohort Mark Pagano, is one instantaneously hummable melody after another. But Celia's capacity for wonder isn't just about major chords and a smile. Hers is a youthfulness that comes not from naivete but from wisdom. She's well aware of all the world's bullshit and, with her music, offers an anecdote. KM

11:15 The Union Electric (Pop)
Since late 2009 the Union Electric has released three seven-inches, each showing a gradual development in the band's songwriting, musicianship and overall production. But make no mistake: This isn't a budding band that started out lost or inexperienced. It's by local history enthusiast and May Day Orchestra's primary songwriter Tim Rakel, who uses this project as an outlet to explore exactly how noisy folk music can be before it's actually distortion-drenched rock. On its newest Tunnels/An Irish Orphan seven-inch, the band gets help from jacks-of-all-trades Beth Bombara and Kit Hamon (Old Lights) and turns in its most cohesive and sonically ripe output to date. MD

12:30 DJ Uptown (DJ)
Nominated for an RFT Music Award two years running, DJ Uptown is among the busiest DJs in the city. On the tables at various clubs at least five times a week, he holds residencies at Atomic Cowboy, Delmar Lounge and Novak's — quite a change from his former career as an air force intelligence officer. Music has always been a part of DJ Uptown's life, and that's a huge factor in his rise to the top of the St. Louis DJ ranks over the past five years. Though lots of DJs have been spinning in the city longer, few have made such an impact: His versatile collection spans Top 40 to the roots of hip-hop; he's twice competed in Red Bull's Thre3Style DJ Battle and has ongoing projects with the Basement System and Jason and the Beast. TD

Over/Under Bar & Grill

3:30 Teddy Presberg's Resistance Organ Trio (Soul/Funk)
Don't let the name fool you: There are absolutely not three organ players in the Teddy Presberg's Resistance Organ Trio. The band's name comes together from a choice to supplant a typical bass with a more exotic organ. The instrument provides the band with a sound that Presberg describes as a "dance party" and a "funkfest" that gives people people "ear orgasms." Yowza. The trio has a steady line of gigs around the St. Louis area, including a weekly show at Schlafly Bottleworks in Maplewood. And if that weren't enough, the band is putting together a stylized tribute to Led Zeppelin that should be available to the public in a couple of months. JR

4:45 The Bottoms Up Blues Gang (Blues)
As the revival of pre-pyrotechnic blues continues to gain momentum on the local scene, it's worth remembering that the Bottoms Up Blue Gang was, in many ways, ahead of the curve. Founders Kari Liston and Jeremy Segel-Moss are celebrating their eleventh year together, and their effectively open-invite approach (if you've got the chops) to live performance always ensures that no two shows are quite alike. Each one is a celebration of a truly diverse scene. With regular trio member Adam Andrews on harmonica and just Segel-Moss' amplified acoustic guitar and Liston's voice (plus kazoo) pouring out with a gutsy, swing-conscious delivery, BUBG refreshes the blues by stripping away the trivialities and then rebuilding the groove from scratch. RK

6:00 Union Tree Review (Chamber Pop)
Call Union Tree Review whatever you'd like: It's part chamber pop, part fleshed-out folk and, in some circles, "make-out music." Singer/guitarist Tawaine Noah's crackled croon fans itself over the band's impressive sound for a seriously sexy experience. The band's addiction to melodrama, stratospheric crescendos and unmediated howling coalesces into a live performance that earned the band an opening slot for Portugal. the Man this April. The band celebrated its second birthday at Off Broadway on May 8 with the Spring Standards and proved it isn't falling into routines: The last song of the evening was an unrecorded track titled "Clouds." It was a song the band admitted to not playing for a while and was a fulfilling closer to the set, with Pat Swan blasting on the trumpet with precision — it was a welcome reminder of the band's spontaneity. In a town where music can get stale after repeat listens, UTR always manages to surprise. BS

7:15 Bear Hive (New Band)
Because each member of Bear Hive handles an impressive number of duties onstage, those who have heard but not seen the band may be surprised to learn it is merely a trio. Bassist Joel Burton and drummer Nate Heininger supplement their setups with secondary synthesizers, either hopscotching between instruments mid-song or tending to both simultaneously. Chris Phillips' vocals are remarkably expressive, especially because he belts them out while tap-dancing on pedals to loop layers of prickly guitar riffs and managing a hands-on drum machine. The variety-show spectacle is far from effortless, but this demanding, sweaty routine is the process necessary to execute Bear Hive's eclectic electro-indie party rock, which ranges from Battles-meets-Modest Mouse roof burners to lounging smoke breaks akin to Yo La Tengo. RW

8:30 The Feed (Rock)
For the bulk of the Feed's career, the three-piece rock band made its name performing hard, driving, melodic rock & roll without rock's signature instrument — the electric guitar. As if to not-so-subtly underline this omission, the band has regularly covered such guitar-heavy acts as the Clash, Sonic Youth and Jimi Hendrix (it helps that pianist Dave Grelle can make his keyboard rig sound like damn near anything). But when guitarist Jordan Heimburger filled the void left by bassist/saxophonist Ben Reece, the instrument became a natural part of the band's arsenal. Grelle still holds court with bottom-heavy electric piano and the occasional organ riff — and his jazz chops place his style somewhere between Billy Preston and Oscar Peterson — and drummer Kevin Bowers remains one of the most intuitive and restless beat-keepers in town. Fans are still holding their collective breath for a long-promised new album, but the band's lead-off track on the just-released Tower Groove Records compilation finds the trio in fine, bluesy form. CS

9:45 Rats & People Motion Picture Orchestra (Chamber Pop)
The only word in the grandiose moniker Rats & People Motion Picture Orchestra that is not rooted in literal truth is "Rats." This collection of People uses the dramatic instrumentation of an Orchestra to play the live scores to silent Motion Pictures like the vampire classic Nosferatu. Additionally, the ensemble composes music for contemporary local films, contributed to four artists' tracks on the recent Tower Groove Records compilation and collaborated with the now-defunct Theodore for an ambitious Van Dyke Parks tribute set at 2010's An Under Cover Weekend. Rats & People Motion Picture Orchestra is a local fixture as much for its individual ingenuity as its ability to play well with others. RW

11:00 18andCounting (DJ)
Stan Chisholm (a.k.a. 18andCounting) is an interesting character. The description "Renaissance man" is inevitable. And while Chisholm is not DaVinci, his art does ponder humanity's relationship with Earth. His "OneLiners" series is full of bitter truths ("YourBlogWillBeSeenMoreThanYourGrave") and challenging wisdom ("PeopleHaveTheRightToBeDumb"). Throughout his artwork, there is rampant eroticism. It can be difficult to discern the main idea Chisholm is getting at. Within the context of his music, however, 18aC's mindset is clear. As a DJ, Chisholm is less party-starter and more homebody. During his sets he flirts with bass drops and emphasizes fluid vocal performances over beats made to make a body obey. He leaves the pandering stuff at home. At his most club-friendly, he layers the infectious claps tracks like Chingy's "Everybody in the Club Gettin' Tipsy" over a beat that incites more of a wiggle than an ass-shake. There is a cerebral quality to 18aC that distinguishes him from many of the DJs in town. While most go for kicks, 18aC goes for art. BS

Rosalita's Cantina

7:15 Ellen the Felon & the Mattronome (Singer-Songwriter)
Ellen the Felon fills a noticeable void in the St. Louis music scene with her dramatic piano pop. Sometimes campy, sometimes brooding but always brimming with feeling, Ellen's music twists and turns with knotty progressions and skilled jazzy runs that are often matched by her frequent partner in crime, busy drummer the Mattronome. She can also lay off and deliver straightforward, sincere ballads. Comparisons to Amanda Palmer and Fiona Apple are not unmerited, but Ellen possesses an airier voice and more playful demeanor than those stern artists, and that makes her more fun. (Can you imagine either of them writing a boogie rock song from the perspective of a cat?) The mood might be sad when she sings about only being thought of as one, but as a performer, Ellen the Felon really is a good-time go-to party girl. BM

8:45 Jump Starts (Pop)
A possible downside of taking a spot in the lineup of the Firebird's yearly homage, An Under Cover Weekend, is that your band will forever endure comparisons to whomever you cover in the local press. So, uh, it is with some trepidation that we direct you to Jump Starts' 2011 performance as the Violent Femmes. That's just a starting point for the duo of Justin Johnson (of Pretty Little Empire) and Sarah Ross (of Paper Dolls [RIP]), but it's a pretty good one — particularly in reference to the band's bouncy, punky pop. If PLE finds Johnson in his (powerful) diary, the Jump Starts finds him at a party. After a recent trip to SXSW and a string of highly lauded live shows, he and Ross have found their way onto the tip of many a music fan's tongue. KM

10:15 Syna So Pro (Solo)
There's a particularly distinct image associated with one-person bands: Performers with complicated contraptions strapped to their bodies trying desperately to play a rudimentary song. Thankfully, technology has evolved enough for ambitious and multi-talented performers to do anything and everything without suffering a herniated disc. Syna So Pro's Syrhea Conaway must be especially thankful for the looping thingamajigs that allow her to create such a rich and unbending sound all by her lonesome. Conaway has undertaken a project to produce a string of a cappella "smashups," stringing together tunes from local artists such as the Blind Eyes, Ellen the Felon and the Dive Poets. Not only has the project provided exposure to some of St. Louis' treasures, but it also showcased how varied and powerful a person's voice can be — hers, in particular. The whole exercise is mind-bending in its intricacy, but it isn't surprising that an artist like Conaway makes it all look like second nature. JR

11:45 Extremely Pointless (Cover)
Extremely Pointless is not your wedding-hits jukebox. The quartet, featuring Sean Doherty on vocals, Ray Novak on guitar, Sal Cira on drums and Lodell Parks on bass, started over a decade ago as an alternative rock band...well, alternative to the bands relying on '80s classics. After so much time spent relentlessly gigging at places like Helen Fitzgerald's, Extremely Pointless has perfected its take on the rage rockers of the late '90s and early aughts. KM

Rue 13

4:00 Ra Cailum (Solo)
Focusing on Anthony Engelhardt's age is either inspiring or frustrating. At the ripe age of twenty, Engelhardt has already found his voice as Ra Cailum and dropped three solid releases of artful electronic music. Last year, Ra Cailum unleashed the odds and ends collection Leaving and Returning and the Finding My Way EP, which was ranked on RFT's list of the 40 best local albums of 2011. On May 1, Kansas City label Think 2wice Records released Ra Cailum's Chimbus EP, a set of minimal house tracks tailored to a strobe-lit dance floor. Its title track alone will make you sweat so profusely, you'll want to buy Anthony Engelhardt a drink — unfortunately, you must wait a year to do that (legally). RW

5:15 Eric Hall (Electronic/Dance)
Listening to Eric Hall's spontaneous compositions — the patient instrumental scenes that grow from unicellular sounds into living organisms in the course of twenty minutes — one might expect the man to be an introspective recluse. This is simply not so. Hall may be the most visible improvisational musician in St. Louis. He performs constantly in the area's DIY venues, is the current resident composer of sound installations for Laumeier Sculpture Park and has released a stunning 25 hours (!) of original music in the past twelve months alone. Hall appears far from worn thin; these multiple outlets seem necessary to collect his unending stream of ideas. Some musicians spend their lifetimes trying to compose music this deliberate and fearless. Eric Hall culls it from the ether. RW

6:30 Ou Où (Electronic/Dance)
Ou Où holds a reputation for its rich waves of rhythmic texture built from meandering sounds. Ou Où is bred from a collective influence of krautrock and avant-garde jazz, a pedigree of progressive taste and primal rhythm. Travis Bursik and Patrick Weston unify synthetic bursts and occasionally land on animalistic, almost tribal, drumbeats. Since 2009, Ou Où has merged the electronic and the experimental, bending the conventions with respect to genre. To date, Bursik and Weston have produced three albums, each illustrating Ou Où's wild sense of drone and lush harmonics. JH

7:45 Adult Fur (Electronic/Dance)
To fully be a part of Adult Fur's world is to understand the merits of partnering blunt, blistering experimentation with dancing friends dressed as sea kelp. This, if you are lucky, is one of Ryan McNeely's live shows. But as a slightly awestruck listener, you can also be a smaller part of that: In addition to producing for some of St. Louis' greatest hip-hop names (Tef Poe and Rockwell Knuckles, to name a couple), McNeely unleashes cryptic, intrapersonal electonica under a musical pseudonym as idiosyncratic as his beats. Layered over dense atmospherica and warped, lazy synth, McNeely blends nostalgic pop with ambitious rock and hip-hop influences to summon several worlds at once. And while it's occasionally tough to tell which one he lives in, none of them is boring. KW

9:00 Loose Screwz (Electronic/Dance)
Loose Screwz (born Damon Davis) has been known to produce tracks in a wide variety of styles for artists like Thelonious Kryptonite, Brothers Lazaroff and his own group, Scripts 'N Screwz. Over the past two years, he has further expanded his range into instrumental territory, taking cues from LA's vibrant electronic music scene. As the voice of the FarFetched collective of artists, Screwz released 20,000 Years From Tomorrow in March; it's a seventeen-track affair that uses a mixture of vintage samples, glitchy synths and live instrumentation to transport listeners through past impressions of the future. Early response to the project has been mostly positive — and landed Screwz the opportunity to open for Shabazz Palaces in April. As he continues to produce for himself and other artists, Screwz is also working on a visual element to add to his live shows. CC

10:15 CaveofswordS (New Band)
If marriage is just another name for collaboration — a synergistic pairing of forces, a mingling of strengths and talents combined to make something lasting and beautiful — it's amazing that so few rock & roll marriages stand the test of time. Husband and wife Kevin and Sunyatta McDermott are off to a good start as CaveofswordS — she sings and writes the lyrics, and he takes care of the music, which tends toward organic electronica and looped percussion. Those who knew Sunyatta McDermott (then Sunyatta Marshall) from her role as the lead singer in pop-psych group Helium Tapes or as part of Fred's Variety Group will certainly recognize her controlled and seductive voice, and in these more beat-heavy arrangements she is freed from the constraints of live, loud rock & roll. As such, her voice becomes the uncontested centerpiece of these songs, with Kevin's drum-machine boogies and artfully processed sound collages offer a rich, nuanced palette to sing against. CS

Side Bar

5:45 The Spot Ons (Pop)
Joe Rohlman and Kate Peterson understand the power of the boy-girl dynamic. The duo, who makes up the Spot Ons, imbues its songs with harmonies that showcase its playful chemistry and the beautiful contrast between Rohlman's baritone pipes and Peterson's feminine voice. These harmonies are laid atop Rohlman's guitar parts that are alternately folky, funky, jazzy or country-inflected while Peterson supplements the groove on one of her many instruments (among other things, she has a Wurlitzer, accordion and toy piano at her disposal). It's a testament to the Spot Ons' tight arrangements that it can generate a powerful show with only two players, but it's nonetheless exciting to know that for the band's upcoming EP they tracked sessions with a hired rhythm section. But no matter what shape the Spot Ons is in, its music remains fun, witty and infectious. BM

7:00 Tenement Ruth (Rock)
In 2009 Tenement Ruth performed as the White Stripes at the Under Cover Weekend masquerade ball at the Firebird. Who would have guessed that this folk-and-country-rock-inclined band could pull off the proggy blues thunder of Jack and Meg, but thunder and prog they did. Since then, the band — led by singer Melissa Anderson and featuring Dave Anderson on guitar, Mary Williams on drums and Jake Deleonardis on bass — has been expanding and tightening its sound into a persuasive and fetching fusion of the Velvet Underground and Loretta Lynn. It's Americana, to be sure, but with an aggressive, primal, psychedelic twist. RK

8:15 The Blind Eyes (Indie Rock)
On the surface, it doesn't look like much has changed since we named Blind Eyes the best new band of 2008. The mod rockers still fit oddly shaped chords together to make gorgeous pop melodies. Guitarist Seth Porter still croons like a humble Rat Pack member, and bassist Kevin Schneider has retained his garage-rock bark. The band still sounds like it's having a blast whether it's unleashing a torrent of eighth-notes a la the Strokes or laying down an easy swinging groove that you can swill your cocktail to. But the Blind Eyes has shown tremendous growth since its already impressive debut. Its new songs are catchier, its performances are tighter and its new lyrics cut deeper. And now that Andy White has joined as a second guitarist, Blind Eyes has an electrifying soloist that can flesh out its material. It's only getting better with the Blind Eyes. BM

9:30 Bassamp and Dano (Punk)
When contacted with some questions for this write-up, guitarist Bassamp had the following comment he felt he needed to say (completely unsolicited): "I just got a new pocketknife I'm really jacked up about. The handle's got a picture of Ronald Reagan riding a white horse! If I send you a picture of it, will it get printed?" Citing "America" as the band's primary influence (no surprise, then, about the Reagan knife), in addition to "shitting with the door open," "mowing the lawn at night" and "that movie where Sylvester Stallone has to arm-wrestle for the custody of his son," Bassamp and Dano is a band incapable of taking itself — much less anything else — seriously. No matter: This lack of professional posturing adds immensely to the band's charm, whose specialty is catchy punk rock with hilarious lyrics about drinking bum wine, having diarrhea and being American — which, to Bassamp and Dano, all seem to be one and the same. DH

10:45 Capone (Cover)
Cover bands are usually seen as second-rate rip-offs, but Capone is something different entirely. It's a cover band that brings back to life the glory (or the horror, depending on your opinion) of 1980s hair metal. The men of Capone might even put on a better show than the bands that they mimic because they are very clearly doing it out of love for the music. It's not tongue-in-cheek. There's no sarcasm and no irony. Capone is just a hard-working band paying tribute to its musical heroes in the most authentic way possible: imitation. The band does well with both the style and attitude of the era, but behind the bandanas and the eyeliner and the leather pants are modern musicians playing with passion. They might not have written these songs, but they feel them and celebrate them and always offer audiences nothin' but a good time. Jamie Lees

Midnight Tok (Hard Rock)
In a world where rock radio trends more and more toward angry metal, it's great to see that alt-rock bands like Tok still exist. The Festus trio has muscle, speed and feedback to spare, but it balances its power with singable melodies. Guitarist Bryan Basler's slightly watery distortion and gravelly vocals echo Nirvana, but he shreds in a way Cobain never did. His brother Matt takes a more vulnerable approach to his vocals that lend Tok's slower songs a welcome bluesy feel, all while dialing in bass lines that go beyond following the guitar's root note to compliment the song. Drummer Mike Chrismer keeps it all together with driving beats and fills that impress but never overwhelm. If you think the Point (105.7 FM) is only worth listening to on Wayback Weekends, Tok is for you. BM

1:15 Red Squad (Hard Rock)
Red Squad has a fixation on prog-rock with the brevity of hardcore, and these elements birth a wildly vibrant music void of tired genre trappings. Red Squad tends to the power-trio format with a striking balance, as Lindsay Cranmer styles her guitar with a psychedelic rip, and drummer Alberto Patino tears through the drum set with spastic fervor. Joel Stillwell provides a low-end hum through use of oft-distorted bass, a crunchy supplement to the trio's penchant for driving song structure. The riffs themselves hold a melodic core, keeping an eye on pop music while holding a direct link to the band's punk and hardcore background. Expect Red Squad's first release in late 2012, when the group will flex a pedigree of rock combustion through a diverse and brainy set of songs. JH

Smash Bar

4:30 Terra Caput Mundi (Metal)
Terra Caput Mundi is St. Louis' premiere Warhammer 40k themed metal band — not that there's much competition for that title. The brainchild of vocalist/bassist Jared Caput Mundi, who conceived of the band in 2005 with one stated purpose — "To express the grim darkness of the far future through ripping heavy metal"— TCM secured a lineup including drummer Sarah Caput Mundi and guitarist Thrash Attack Zack and recorded and self-released 2008's Warp Speed Warriors, an eight-song offering of punk-infused thrash with influence from old-school heavy metal. After Zack was "accidentally blown out of an airlock" in 2010, the lineup was solidified into its current incarnation with guitarist Destructsean providing the six-stringed riffage. Terra Caput Mundi is gearing up for its late 2012 release of Lost in the Warp, gigging relentlessly and proving once and for all that heavy metal rules in a galaxy of fools. DH

5:45 Fister (Metal)
Since 2009 Fister has stood tall as a singular pillar in St. Louis' metal community. Known for delivering Sabbath-esque doom at a snail's pace, the band's skillful dynamics traverse the tried elements that plague the genre. Aiming to be the loudest band in the city, Fister trudges on with roughneck progressions through a wall of amps, delivering a drudging exultation of fire and brimstone. Worshipping at the broken altar of bands such as Sleep and Dopethrone, its songs bellow with a darkened swagger, baptized in weed smoke and sworn to all that is unholy. Though humorous titles like "Witchfucker" and "Mazda of Puppets" hint at blatant parody, its music serves as a serious testament to true passion and solid musicianship. This month finds the shred-heavy trio releasing The Infernal Paramount EP, some of its most realized and lethal material to date. JL

7:00 Scripts 'N Screwz (Hip-Hop Group/Collective)
The music of Ill-side duo Scripts 'N Screwz has always fallen on the experimental side of hip-hop. Loose Screwz, who handles most of the group's eccentric production, tends to pull from a diverse array of musical influences on each project, so you're likely to find songs that sound more like electronica or rock sitting side by side with the more contemporary hip-hop tracks. As emcees, he and Scripts are both capable rhyme-sayers, with thoughtful lyricism accented by a fluent and mellow delivery. The group's current singles "So Cool" and "Escalators" offer a glimpse of what can be expected from its soon-to-be-released EP, The Hangover 2. CC

8:15 Yowie (Experimental)
Venerable trio Yowie has dropped jaws for more than a decade with its intricate compositions and geometric precision. In a recent plot twist to the legend of Yowie, guitarist Christopher Trull joined the group, replacing the band's mysterious one-named member Jimbo. Trull earned his stripes and proved his proficiency back when he was one-third of local legend-in-process Grand Ulena, and those who witnessed his April debut with Yowie at Fort Gondo can vouch for his ability to elevate the group rather than merely hang on. The band has long been intimidatingly good, but with this shot of adrenaline, Yowie is heading toward the mathematical formula that will trigger the explosion of the sun. RW

9:30 Spelling Bee (Experimental)
The dynamic between Joseph Hess and Mabel Suen is more akin to that of a wacky sitcom couple than members of a noise-rock band. Suen is tiny and reserved while Hess is lanky and extroverted. Their individual polarity is best realized when the duo takes the stage, or more commonly the floor, as Spelling Bee. Hess punishes his drum kit like he's playing a hyperactive round of Whac-A-Mole while shouting with the guttural attack of a post-hardcore frontman. Meanwhile, Suen barks lyrics into her microphone as she summons fuzzed hooks from her Fender Mustang with the concentration and accuracy of a sniper. The balance Spelling Bee strikes is shockingly delicate, especially considering how many decibels the band conjures from its deceivingly simple setup. RW

10:45 Midwest Avengers (Hall of Fame Inductee)
Midwest Avengers is one of the longest standing and most well respected hip-hop groups in the city. Pioneering a live-band arrangement in the area, the group remains an elder statesman and ambassador for the scene.

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