Cock-a-Doodle To-Do

Unlike most local-music showcases, the annual Rooster Lollipop extravaganza is one to look forward to

Local band showcases are as common as dirt and half as interesting, a dreary procession of people lugging crap on and off the stage, plugging and unplugging cords, knocking over microphones, subjecting the hapless audience to multiple drum checks and deafening feedback -- all the usual preshow preparations stretched out over an entire evening.

The annual Rooster Lollipop fête is a dazzling exception. The little musicians' collective has been putting out compilation CDs and hosting multiband extravaganzas for a few years now, and the organizers have it down to a science. Eight groups will perform, but they'll all use the same amps and drum kit, keeping the boring business between sets to a minimum. Plus, the imaginative folks at ROLO offer a variety of crowd-pleasing high-concept games. This year's theme is a pajama party, with the stage decorated to resemble a '70s-style girl's bedroom, complete with Shaun Cassidy and Leif Garrett posters, throw pillows, frilly furniture and, most intriguing, a giant teen-magazine cover featuring pin-up boy "Bobby" Reuter. Says ROLO president/Ouija drummer Sue Zeilstra: "He's going along with it willingly, I think. I don't know if he realizes all we're gonna do to him." Radar Station considers this ritual cheesecake-ification a delicious example of poetic justice: Reuter devotes a significant portion of his life to photographing sexy rock chicks, and it's high time he experienced life from the other side of the lens (and, we must confess, we think he's dreamy!).

The Pajama Party also features spin-the-bottle, a truth-or-dare raffle, a pillow fight and a gigantic game of Twister. "We're using regulation-size circles, but we'll make the rows a lot longer than one board length," Zeilstra explains. "There can be up to 20 or 30 people playing at one time." Prizes will also be awarded to the audience members wearing the best pajamas. "One guy I know is wearing a peignoir with Lisa Douglas slippers," Zeilstra says. "Fred Friction was looking forward to judging sexiest female pajamas, but that might scare people off, so I don't know if you want to put that in there." (Radar Station asks: Are you kidding?)

Much to our disappointment, the kissing booth is absent this year. "It was a real moneymaker and very popular with everyone except Bruk [Longbottom, of Ouija], who was the kissing-booth kisser," Zeilstra chuckles. "People liked kissing her a little too much. Fred was also a kisser, but he liked it -- maybe a little too much."

The event, which takes place at the Way Out Club on Saturday, Dec. 15, costs $6 for us pussies who won't wear pajamas and $5 for the good sports who will. The lineup order, which was determined by a game of spin-the-bottle, looks like this: the Poppies, the Imposters, the Homewreckers, Ouija, Rocket Park, the Highway Matrons, Earl and Tinhorn. Each band plays for approximately 20 minutes, and the shindig starts at 9 p.m. The party is also your first opportunity to buy the Pajama Party CD, which contains songs from all eight bands. Radar Station can assure you it's worth the measly $10 for the two opening tracks alone, both by the Poppies, one of St. Louis' best and, frustratingly, least active bands. The delirious la-la-las, the trippy Harrisonesque guitar solos (from Sean Garcia, also in the fabulous psych-pop outfit Tinhorn), the handclaps, the swoony harmonies -- it's all hooky as fuck and guaranteed to insinuate itself into the brain of anyone who's ever loved Revolver. Although her range is limited, singer/songwriter/guitarist Megan Purcell has a sturdy, engaging alto and a perfectly deadpan delivery. When she sneers, "Say you don't love me, I can hear it again/Another damn rooster wanna be my friend," it's everything rock & roll is supposed to be and then some.

The Red Squares celebrate the release of their first full-length CD, Working for Minimum Wave, on Friday, Dec. 14, at the Way Out Club. A catchy collection of power-pop anthems, the disc combines the band's trademark political insight (Jason Toon, the singer and principal songwriter, was the Green Party candidate for state representative last year) with frenetic hooligan chants and punchy power chords. Like the Squares' "Oh Girlie Girl!" EP, Wave recalls the early Jam mixed with a bit of early Clash. With lyrics about urban sprawl, unfulfilling day jobs, vacant lots, nuclear war, junk food and paternal anxieties, the songs can get a little preachy at times, but usually they're smart and right on the money. We may be biased, but it's not because Toon contributes to the RFT occasionally (we reserve our affection for writers who turn their stuff in on time). The Red Squares had us with the anti-Walgreens references. "When I think about the politics of the CD, I just think of it as being more of a humanist thing than anything else," Toon remarks, "more just common decency, as Orwell would put it. You don't have to be a paid-up Communist to agree with what's on the album."

Other reasons to attend the show: The first 50 people to buy the CD will receive a special limited-edition high-tech surprise. Former Squares bassist (and RFT contributing cartoonist) Matthew Shultz will perform, both with the band and solo. And last but not least, this could be your final chance to hear Sexicolor, Slammy champs and notorious pets of Radar Station; the band, sadly, is going on a hiatus of indeterminate length.