IN/Form Galleries, Lemp Brewery
It's been said elsewhere (okay, the RFT): the Venus Envy annual show at the old Lemp Brewery is a social affair, to be sure. (This time out, I ran into people from virtually every six-month period in my life, oftentimes within a few feet and/or seconds of one another.) With bands, solo performers and the occasional performance piece, there's plenty to take your mind off of what's on the walls. It'd be unfair, though, to cast the entire night as an excuse to hob-nob. With 30-odd artists from St. Louis represented, the fare this year was diverse and broke the somewhat clique-ish nature of previous Lemp shows.
This time out, the Venus organizers also sponsored a show in Memphis: same night, same format, smaller crop of participants. Word has it that the show might spread to a handful of other cities located in the Midwest, specifically, along the Mississippi. Good concept. And based on the organic growth of this event drawing upwards of 3,000 people this year taking the Venus Envy show to the next level is perfectly timely and appropriate. A fine evening, spent in a fine, old space.
"Arch City Chronicle"
We've sung the praises of the Arch City Chronicle before, noting that publication serves the needs of those who can't get enough of grassroots/City politics. The publication a subscription zine, priced at $15 a year did its best service yet, when publishing the full version of an Elizabeth Vega story for the RFT, which detailed the convoluted politics of the Century Building debate.
It's great to have multiple voices parsing out alternative news in town. The Vega piece would've once had a chance to run only in the St. Louis Journalism Review. But, here, the piece was given a bit of a public airing, even if it's to a small group of subscribers. With recognition in the latest St. Louis Magazine and this issue, the ACC took a big jump in becoming essential monthly reading. Now, the next big challenge: printing a few pieces, written by contributors, that fall well outside the general worldview of the publishers. Will we see those soon? If so, it'll only confirm that lively debate's a part of the Chronic.
"Playback: St. Louis Pop Culture"
The new "Playback" zine comes to our attention on the sly found a single issue lying in the KDHX lobby one afternoon. Since the cover story dealt with veteran cult act They Might Be Giants, the initial impulse was to assume that this was a national zine, maybe even one associated with a record company or distributor. The clean design and nice look only added to that thought.
As it turns out, the zine's a hybrid of local and national music, with a smidgen of pop culture thrown in for good measure. The writing staff is a mix of names you'll know and some you may not, with several folks coming from the pages of the old "NoisyPaper," like Kevin Renick and Laura Hamlett. While it may take a couple of months to get a real handle on the exact bent of coverage, it seems that lighter-pop fare than that found in "Flush" will be the rule, with far superior graphics. A new zine? Always a good thing.
This comes to us from Jerome Gaynor, who's produced a couple notable local zines and comix over the years. His latest compilation book is "Bogus Dead," which is given over almost exclusively to drawings about zombies. If you're into parodies of modern horror comics you know that's you then this book will ring true, with playful send-ups of the form, along with pretty faithful renderings. It features an impressive selection of national talent, with a handful of local artists represented, including Art Chantry, who put together the cover.
The books are available for $10 a pop at the website noted above, which also contains links to a number of other Gaynor projects, including the St. Louis Punk Page.
A former member of a couple of St. Louis bands, most notably the Red Squares, Shultz has relocated, though he still contributes to the Riverfront Times, usually in the form of full-page music strips. Often they detail the roadtrips of St. Louisans to New York, though they'll touch on other topics, as well. On his site which collects a laundry list of past projects you'll find several of his best RFT take-outs, including "Secrets of the Strip Club DJ" and "House Cat Music Reviews."
Including music made by one of our frequent contributors, Chris King, skuntry.com is all the guide you need to St. Louis bands of the past, starting with Enormous Richard and following on to offspring Three Fried Men and Eleanor Roosevelt. Those bands' back recordings are here, along with an eclectic smattering of other offerings. People like Nymah Kumah, Pops Farrar and other elder statesmen of the roots are uncovered by King and his field-recording associates. This is music that's made from the heart, for a "self-selecting" audience, as the phrase goes. Idiosyncratic. Moody. Recorded, sometimes, on the fly. Even if you weren't around for the original bands sketched out on the site, you'll find it a fascinating place. Not unlike digging through a really cool, dense jumble sale.
This month, on Sunday the 19th, a handful of new inductees will added to the Loop's St. Louis Walk of Fame, with a kickoff event, speeches and the usual hoopla. If you're interested in the back-story of how the Walk came into being or maybe you wonder who some of these starred folks are then dive into this site, which gives you a 101 on the first decade-and-a-half of inductions.
One of the better, young, energetic bands on the local scene, ResistAll brings together a songwriter with considerable time spent on local stages, alongside a rhythm section that's a bit less experienced, but plenty talented. ResistAll (Phil Browne, guitar and vocals; Laurel Mydock, bass; and Joe Meyer, drums and vocals) combine pop and punk, like the kids like today, served up in three-minute spoonfuls. Among the band's live faves that make it to this, their second release, are "Jesus (at the top of my lungs)," "Black Maria" and "Ritalin Baby." All are representative of the basic ResistAll aesthetic: short, punchy tracks that, at their best, stick with you longer than an hour.
That said, ResistAll (who recorded these cuts in five hours, according to the minimal liner notes) are still a band best enjoyed live, where Browne's allowed to roam the stage with some kinda abandon. One local club owner says that he's as good a showman as we've got in town, and it's true. A funny man on the mic and able to rock when the jokes run out. Catch 'em live; look for dates at resistall.org.
KDHX, 88.1 FM
7:30 p.m., Mondays
For one minute a week, Barroom Bob rules the St. Louis airwaves, bringing his unique take on life in the Big City. As the proprietor of the Way Out Club and an avid consumer of pop culture's last 50 years, Barroom Bob sees things as they are, with a bit of a nocturnal slant. Whether the topic's ward politics, the need for the return of burlesque houses or meditations on the weather, his whiskey-soaked tones and offbeat commentaries blend perfectly, giving listeners something that you don't get on the air often enough: unbridled, uncensored, personal observations. Like Harry Cargas' onetime pieces for KWMU, this the good stuff of radio, no pretense and no sacred cows.