Every month, RFT Music's concert fanatics highlight a hodgepodge of the best shows happening around town -- from hip hop and metal to noise and experimental. Here's a selection of these picks combined with our weekly critics' picks and beyond. Stay tuned to our weekend best bets post on Friday for even more recommendations over the weekend.
Laika Monday, May 12, 8 p.m. w/ Flesh Born, Lions, Gilliam @ Lemp Arts Center - $5 By Mabel Suen From this 2013 profile: When asked to describe his own music, guitarist and vocalist Mike Brown of Laika says, "It's something that continues to push us as musicians. It's aggressive and fast at times but slow and emotional at others. It's a mix of feeling and indifference. We're all aggravated and angry. This is a way for us (or at least me) to sort out our heavies... It doesn't do anyone any good when it sits inside. I'd rather scream them in people's faces." Rooted in screamo and the melodic side of finger-tapped math rock (a la Piglet, Don Caballero and Tera Melos), the trio creates high energy music that peaks, resolves and moves on in a scatter shot manner from song to song. Structures wax and wane between harried quick-paced attacks to slow, dense sections of emotionally-driven yells dripping with disdain.
DJ Mahf Tuesday, May 13, 10 p.m. @ Pin-Up Bowl By Blair Stiles From the 2013 RFT Music awards: DJ Mahf works from some place in his brain that pumps out enough enthusiasm to make his work look easy. Performing with a chilled zeal, the Indyground DJ interplays dense minutes of thumping samples with crackling movie clips and fine-tuned, one-and-two-handed scratches. He has already banged around Kansas City's spirited Middle of the Map Festival with labelmate Brett Gretzky, crossed the northern American border and cut and pasted for Red Bull's Thre3style competition this year. Whether live or replayed through Indyground's streaming footage, Mahf exudes the enjoyment he feels: In tempo he bobs at the waist, moving faster in the moments when he is inundated with the floor's energy, always looking pleased. It is Mahf's obvious enjoyment of his craft that puts his sets so squarely in the spotlight.
Lumpy & the Dumpers 7" Release Wednesday, May 14, 8 p.m. w/ Cabeza Twins, Scary & the Scrapers, Bathhouse Boys, Mainland Divide @ Plush - $7 By RFT Staff From the RFT Best of St. Louis 2013: Straight from the demented brain of a man who calls himself "Lumpy" (a.k.a. Martin Meyer, former drummer of St. Louis punk favorite Sweet Tooth), Lumpy & the Dumpers is a band tailor-made to occupy the deepest, darkest corners of subterranean spaces. Like the musical equivalent of the 1984 B-movie C.H.U.D., Lumpy and his band of "cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers" (better known as the Dumpers, a.k.a. "the best backing band in punk") ooze slime and nastiness as readily as they churn out infectious riffs and bafflingly catchy choruses. (We still don't know what it means to "face the meat," but we've been assured that one of these days we will find out.) It didn't take long at all for this former one-man, four-track project to take on members and form a life of its own, building blog buzz and already touring the Midwest this year.
Slayer Thursday, May 15, 7:30 p.m. w/ Suicidal Tendencies @ The Pageant - $32.50-$35 By Rick Giordano From "The Best St. Louis Metal Shows: May 2014": Slayer was that super awesome band that put out four or five of the best metal albums ever created before the guy who wrote all the good songs died and they kicked the founding drummer out for asking about his paycheck. Then the band's singer became a Catholic and the remaining wah-wah pedal player, who legally changed his name from Kerry King to Tribal Tony in the early 2000s, turned the band into a merchandising outfit and starred in a Jagermeister commercial wearing sunglasses indoors. Go for Exodus, stay for Suicidal and then throw hot dogs at Kerry King and see how many he catches in his mouth. RIP Jeff.
Pig Destroyer Friday, May 16, 7 p.m. w/ Fulgora @ Fubar - $17-$20 By Rick Giordano From "The Best St. Louis Metal Shows: May 2014": It's hard to say the phrase "extreme metal" without the words "Pig Destroyer" following closely behind. Since forming in 1997, the band has released five full length albums, toured very little and played St. Louis... never. In 2011, St. Louis area native Adam Jarvis joined the band on drums before recording 2012's Book Burner, and recruited his also St. Louis-based cousin John Jarvis just last year as the band's first-ever bassist. After more than fifteen years without a visit, we should all bow our heads with a thank you prayer to the Jarvis family crest for making a St. Louis Pig Destroyer show finally a reality.
Bruxism No. 3 Friday, May 16, 9 p.m. w/ Regicide Bureau, Skull's Mind, Kingston Family Singers @ Apop Records - $5 By Joseph Hess From "The Best St. Louis Noise/Experimental Shows: May 2014": Thomas Sutter has operated under the alias Regicide Bureau for nearly 30 years, releasing more than 300 recordings -- generally free of cost. While the video above gives a sample of Sutter's sound, don't expect the live show to compare. Online evidence of any past work is scarce, making this gig a rare chance to see one of St. Louis' most prolific outsiders in music. Kingston Family Singers collaborates with modular madman Kevin Harris for an audio/visual set of warped sight and sound. The Singers is actually a solo act, unless you count Maxwell Ullyses Kingston, an otherwise innocent stuffed animal. Maybe Chad Hickman, the brain behind the band, knows more than we do. The BRUXISM concert series is a collaboration between Apop Records and Nathan Cook (usually known by his stage name, NNN Cook). The music offered is certainly niche, but Cook's careful planning caters to many palates. What results is a perfect entry point for newcomers to noise and experimental music.
The Whigs Saturday, May 17, 9 p.m. w/ Turbo Fruits @ Off Broadway - $12 By Roy Kasten The Whigs recorded its new album Modern Creation in a flurry of live sessions, one song per day, with producer Jim Scott (known for his work with Wilco and Tom Petty) at the controls. The Athens, Georgia natives, now based in Nashville, would have you believe the approach was more conceptual than economic. Regardless, Modern Creation is the trio's heaviest release to date, with its power-pop tendencies held in check by volleys of arena rock drumming and Sabbath riffage. "I just want to run forever, and I want to rock & roll," declares front man Parker Gispert. By sloughing off all pretension and extraneous flourishes, the Whigs may not have attained the breakthrough they deserve, but the band has more than enough hard rock to burn. Barroom blasters Turbo Fruits open the show -- just bang your head and worry about your bar tab in the morning.
Nappy Roots Saturday, May 17, 9 p.m. @ The Gramophone - $10/$15 By Tara Mahadevan Nappy Roots formed in Bowling Green, Kentucky, in 1995, releasing their debut mixtape Country Fried Cess in 1998. The sextet's original take on southern bounce attracted all the major labels; Nappy Roots soon signed with Atlantic and became widely known for the song "Awnaw" from 2002's Watermelon, Chicken & Gritz. A consistent force on the alternative end of the hip-hop spectrum, the group is known for incorporating instrumentals like guitars, strings and piano into its sound.
Wye Oak Sunday, May 18, 8 p.m. w/ The Braids @ Old Rock House - $13/$15 By Christian Schaeffer The big news with the latest Wye Oak album, Shriek, focused on Jenn Wasner's move away from the electric guitar, an instrument she mastered and wailed upon over the past few releases. Emboldened by her more electro-savvy side projects (Flock of Dimes and Dungeonesse) and intrigued by the bass guitar, she and drummer/keyboardist Andy Stack created an LP that was a touch more danceable, but that lost none of the band's previous charms. Wasner still writes and sings songs with both a fragile depth and unshakable cool, and the slightly more chill vibes on Shriek don't dull the other senses. Montreal's Braids will open the show.
Note: Though we wish we could, we can't feature every great show happening in town in just one measly post. Look for plenty more recommendations this Friday in our weekend shows post, and peruse the St. Louis concert calendar for more ideas any time. Let everyone know what else you're looking forward to seeing this week in the comments below, and submit show info online any time to be considered for inclusion on these lists.
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