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LIGHT FANTASTIC 

What the hell is going on downtown? Last week, crowds gathered for That Thursday Thing, hosted by the Downtown St. Louis Partnership; next week, Metropolis St. Louis host their summer outdoor concert, The Lot; and this week St. Louis 2004 host their Lovelight Festival. People seem to be going nuts for any free outdoor concert in the heart of downtown that happens to have operating beer wagons. Last year's festival was a hit, especially at the end of the evening, when Energizer supplied hundreds of flashlights to the crowd and the Gateway Mall lit up like a giant jar of fireflies.With surprisingly little forewarning, some great acts are performing at this, the second annual Lovelight: headliners They Might be Giants and Cowboy Mouth, backed up by local favorites Sarah Cloud and Mesh, who performed at the inaugural festival. The special guest hosts for the show are Original P. and Parliament-Funkadelic, kicking off the show around 6 p.m.

One thing learned last year was this: Bring your sunglasses! The stage faces east, and the setting sun is pretty freakin' bright over the heads of the singers. If you think you'll be OK by just turn-ing around and listening to the music, you're kidding yourself. The reflection off Gateway One is bright enough for Lasik surgery. Also, it's going to be hot. Once the sun goes down, it's going to be hot and dark. If it rains, it's going to be hot and humid, with a 100 percent chance of your undies' creeping steadily northward.

Bring a blanket to sit on, but remember — coolers and glass containers are not allowed. You can also bring canned goods and other nonperishable items for a food drive benefiting Food Outreach, an organization serving folks with HIV and AIDS.

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