Tuesday, September 15, 2015

LouFest's Local Acts Share Their Thoughts On Performing at the Huge Festival

Posted By on Tue, Sep 15, 2015 at 7:47 AM

click to enlarge Pokey LaFarge took the Bud Light stage on Sunday with his trademark, Americana throwback sound. - ROBERT ROHE
  • Robert Rohe
  • Pokey LaFarge took the Bud Light stage on Sunday with his trademark, Americana throwback sound.

Each year since 2010, LouFest has attracted top-flight national and international acts to St. Louis for a two-day, mid-September music festival in Forest Park — a nearby, less-hellish alternative to big-name festivals such as Lollapalooza, SXSW and Bonnaroo. But the prominence of LouFest’s headliners can sometimes obscure the handful of high-quality local acts lucky enough to make the bill. Past entrants include such regional heavyweights as Sleepy Kitty, Tef Poe, So Many Dynamos and Pretty Little Empire.

This year there were three homegrown invitees: the young St. Peters-based pop-rock power trio Clockwork, American Wrestlers — formed barely a year ago but immediately signed to Fat Possum on the strength of its debut self-titled release — and Pokey LaFarge, the elder statesman of the St. Louis delegation. The three acts diverge in history, style and approach, but performed admirably on one of the biggest stages our fair city has to offer. 

Riverfront Times spoke to each after their respective sets this weekend.

click to enlarge Clockwork performing on the Shade Stage on Saturday. - ROBERT ROHE
  • Robert Rohe
  • Clockwork performing on the Shade Stage on Saturday.


In the last three years, Clockwork has cut two full-length records and made in-roads on the national festival circuit. Former regulars at Blueberry Hill, Old Rock House and the Firebird, the group’s spent less time in St. Louis over the last year and only recently returned from the road. For them, LouFest felt like a homecoming.

“Starting out, we’d play St. Louis every weekend,” said Jordan Sloan (guitar, vocals), one half of the group’s sibling front-line with brother Logan (bass, vocals). “Because we’ve been playing so much out of town, being able to bring out our family and friends and people we haven't even seen in a year or two was really awesome.”

Rounded out by Logan Mohler on drums, the group took the stage Saturday at 2 p.m. (with dueling Rickenbacker six-string and bass guitars) like a young Beatles-Weezer hybrid — full of energy, buzzing distortion and strong vocal harmonies.

“This is a really cool step for us as a band,” said Logan Sloan of Clockwork’s inclusion in this year’s lineup. “We went from playing complete dive bars that no one’s ever heard to playing a stage like this over the last three years. And that’s just a really, really cool thing for us as a band, is seeing ourselves growing.”

Brushing off some early acoustic guitar-related technical difficulties, the band pressed forward with a forceful, all-electric set.

“You never know what’s going to happen,” said Jordan of the technical snafus. “In the studio, in practice, you can control things so much more, but when you’re on stage, you’re in the heat of it — you have to just make decisions.”

After the set, the band said they looked forward to seeing a number of other festival acts.

“I’m really excited to see Ludacris — I never thought that I would ever be able to say that I was on a bill with Ludacris,” said Jordan. “And Jessica Hernandez. I was really excited about that. I actually got nervous when I went to introduce myself because it’s a band that I’m really excited to see.”

“We fangirl so hard,” Mohler said laughing. “We’ll open for bands and I’ll see someone in the band and be like, 'Do I look OK, do I look OK?'”

And once LouFest ends, what’s the next step for Clockwork?

“We have to decide what our real direction is because we’re at this crossing point,” says Jordan Sloan. “We need to decide if we’re getting ready for another record, if we’re getting ready for just heavy touring, and are we solid with the way that our sound is? Or do we have some things that we need to do some fine tuning with.”

“It’s not going to be until we release this third record that it truly shows who we are,” adds Mohler.

Click through for American Wrestlers and Pokey LaFarge.

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