The Best St. Louis Noise/Experimental Shows: March 2014

We named The Night Grinder Best Noise Band in 2013. - Mabel Suen
Mabel Suen
We named The Night Grinder Best Noise Band in 2013.

Deliberately shrill and mostly dense, "noise" has become a blanket term for bands that explore and experiment around the beaten path. The genre, like others, isn't without its share of hangups, but that's why we're here. Every month, we supply a short list of sure bets in St. Louis, ranging from needlessly complex to minimalist drone. Connect the weird to your ears.

March tends to be the busiest month for music in St. Louis. Touring bands like to use our city as a segue to and from SXSW each year. Right now the River City is particularly jazzed on music festivals, but in this case, being on the way is much better than being the destination. Around this time every year, Austin, Texas becomes a crumpled sardine can of mostly terrible music and industry "peeps" trying to hock their goods to College-age kids and thirty-something "music lovers."

Maybe it's the fragrant stench of our fair Mississippi River or the classy metallic sheen of the Arch, but somehow St. Louis has attracted a good pile of noise-makers. Our top four picks feature an all-local festival of seedy punk and squalor, Robert Beatty of Hair Police, the second BRUXISM show and the mystic prog-rock of Wei Zhongle. If none of those names ring a bell, fear not; Everything comes laid out with links and video.

In the interest of not cheating avid fans of the experimental ilk, there are two shows that deserve a mention, despite my direct involvement (as a performer and promoter) in both: Legendary recording artist Jandek is performing at the Billiken Club on March 21. I won't spend time waxing poetic on why it's crazy that he's even playing here - you can read about why in this article by Mike Appelstein. The other show is the Britches release party on March 18 at Cafe Ventana. The gig features Guerilla Toss from Boston, whose latest LP Gay Disco received the highest accolades a noise rock band could on all corners of the internet.

Friday, March 7 at Foam WEIRD FEST: The Night Grinder Beauty Pageant Pet Rock: The Musical Tiger Rider Animal Teeth Skull Willis 6:30 pm | $5

This show is only technically 1/3 experimental, if anyone is keeping score. The Night Grinder locks thick, digital noise into danceable beats while throwing distorted basslines on top. Beauty Pageant is a raw noise party of scattered percussion, feminine howls and shrill guitars.

If the aforementioned bands sound a little too dense for your tastes, Animal Teeth and Tiger Rider provide snotty punk rock backup, which works as a good entry point into WEIRD FEST.

Saturday, March 8 at Cafe Ventana Wei Zhongle (IL) Eric Hall Con Trails John McCowen 8 pm | $5

Rob Jacobs heads Chicago's Wei Zhongle with odd vocal crooning. Riddled with subtle shifts in tone, Wei Zhongle recalls early prog-rock while grounding songs with palpable hooks. Drummer Sam Klickner lends his sharp percussion over interweaving strings and reeds. Local openers include shoegazers Con Trails and Eric Hall, who usually builds careful collages out of varied samples.

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