Sights and Sounds

Search this site:

The Commonspace

Feb 2003 / sights and sounds :: email this story to a friend

Sweets, Meats and Soybean Treats
By Thomas Crone and Amanda E. Doyle


Dan Potthast
"Sweets and Meats" (Asian Man Records)

Sweets and Meats Well, the slow death of modern ska culture may've been exaggerated. Based on a show of MU330's at the Creepy Crawl in January (the venue sold out, with more than 100 turnaways), there are at least pockets of support, especially for local heroes like MU. While that group is revving up for a more active 2003, singer/songwriter Dan Potthast puts his best foot forward on solo release number two, "Sweets and Meats." Featuring a variety of moods and styles, Potthast and collaborators Lance Reynolds and James Rickman offer up a collection of 15 short, bright, pop songs. Though now living in California, Potthast still liberally peppers his lyrics with references to St. Louis, like on "Pope," an amusing look at John Paul II's strange visit to STL in the 1990s. Always a fun showman, Potthast has made a remarkable jump as a songwriter with this disc, such a stronger effort than 2000's "Eyeballs." (These cuts translate live, too, as evidenced by a show Potthast played at Frederick's last month, with Reynolds on drums and longtime MU cohort Chris Diebold on bass. Despite next-to-no practice, the trio was superb.) Too bad the fella's moved out of the town, but at least we'll have these songs to tide us over 'til the next live appearance. (TC)


DJ Curtis Judge vs. poet Chris Parr/The Black Rainbows/Tone Rodent
Jan. 17, The Commonspace, 615 N. Grand

Judge vs. Parr Something so intriguing about that "vs.," isn't there? Implying a kind of postmodern throw-down betwixt a DJ and a poet. (Surely a peaceful sort, right? Aren't poets peaceful?) The give-and-take between Curtis Judge and Chris Parr on a cold Friday night heated up the crowd of 40 or so folks crammed into the sofas, chairs, floor cushions and window seats at The Commonspace, with the DJ trying to sonically match the words and mood spun by Parr, a New Zealander whose delightful accent only made lines like, "The thing about collecting bunnies is, you never know what people are going to give you," and "Bits in my eyes!!" all the more memorable. Their experimental set delighted the crowd, and provided the perfect, low-key lead-in to a short interlude by the Black Rainbows. (Jenna Bauer's rich voice is a thing of wonder, but we admit to being a bit mystified by some of the numerous stage props; what was the deal with that hair dryer, power on, upended in the vase?) Closing out the evening was a scaled-back "guitarsenal" from Tone Rodent, who had the place awash in guitars from space. (AED)


"Sex with Strangers"
Dir. Joe and Harry Gantz
Tivoli Theatre

It only showed at the Tivoli for one week in chilly January, but those who went to this racy "documentary" were treated to one curious, slice-of-life drama. Not to say this look at the lives of seven swingers was without comedy: James and Theresa, two late-thirtysomething Northwesteners, provided plenty of laughs with their wry, salty takes on the art of sexual conflicts; insufferable Calvin, meanwhile, provided humor of another sort, as he came across as one of the most unlikable characters in recent film memory, with every self-serving phrase drawing disbelieving chuckles from the audience. Though the film did offer some graphic content, the conversations with swinging participants made the film; it has to be said, though, that you never got a full sense of the person, just their sexual components. Despite some flaws, seldom do you leave a theater with an entire crowd nervously laughing, this time at James' stunning one-liners at the end of the film, cementing his position as the emotional heart of this weird, unexpected effort. (TC)


Honeydew Soya Bean Drink (Yeo's)
Jay International Foods

Yeo's Soya Milk Hey, you can go through life drinking water and you'll probably have solid teeth in your 90s and a constantly cleansed system. Good for you. Some of us, though, will spend 10-minutes at a stretch peering into the coolers at Jay International, where the selections are whimsical and, sometimes, completely unexpected. For example, we'd recommend that you take a pass on the various brands of "bird's nest" drink, which includes the ingredient… bird's nest. A gritty, sour taste, to say the least. On the other hand, invest less than a buck and a half in Yeo's amazing "Honeydew Soya Bean Drink," which combines the richness of your standard soya shake with a distinct strain of melon. It might not look right on paper (or even the wrapper, which features flying soy beans), but the taste is well worth the trip to Jay. Of course, any trip there, even for one item, winds up with a full basket, so prepare to look, shake and spend. (TC)

"Drink of the Week"
Riverfront Times

Bravo to Randall Roberts, the RFT staffer with the most plum assignment at the metro weekly: drinks sampler. In a few short months, we've been treated to hallucinatory potions at Pepper's, in-and-out guest beers at Schlafly's and a look inside the world of Bubbles. It's a fun must-read. Our high regards to both Roberts' pen and liver. (TC)

Taqueria El Bronco
2812 Cherokee, 314-762-0691

For the past half-decade or so, the Cherokee business strip just west of Jefferson has been home to a revolving cast of Mexican restaurants. Some have lasted, some have not. Our guess is that Taqueria Bronco will stick around for a bit, despite some physical shortcomings in the building: through no fault of the ownership, heat's a precious resource and the view out the front windows is onto one of the shabbier stretches of the block. Those are minor quibbles, though, once your food arrives. If you want to start your meal with a tongue taco, that's an option, as is a fantastic homemade guacamole. The burrito platters are pretty sizable, so leave lots of room for the main course. (Vegetarians without an aversion to dairy: order the #5, sans meat; you won't be sorry.) There are days when little English is spoken in the restaurant, which features a prominently placed television playing the latest Mexican soaps, talk shows and soccer highlights. But owner Jose and staff won't mind if you have to read the English half of the menu. What a great, little gem. (TC)

Church and State | Games | Expatriates | Communities | From the Source
It's All Happening | Young Minds | The Ordinary Eye | Elsewhere
Sights and Sounds | Media Shoegaze | A Day's Work | From the Editor

© 2003 The Commonspace