Event review: KDHX fans and DJs share love, music and chaos at Midwest Mayhem at the City Museum, Thursday, May 10

Funky Butt Brass Band outside the City Museum at Midwest Mayhem 2012

Funky Butt Brass Band outside the City Museum. Photo by Sara Finke.

St. Louis music fans of all stripes gathered at the City Museum for Midwest Mayhem on Thursday evening to celebrate with the city’s independent radio station, 88.1 KDHX.

While walking towards the entrance one could glimpse the familiar school bus extending over the street as the mantis praying from above seemed to bless the mayhem ahead.

The night began with the sounds of Bob Reuter’s Alley Ghost welcoming patrons at the first floor Whale Stage (Reuter is host of Bob’s Scratchy Records on Friday afternoons on 88.1 KDHX). The crowd continued to grow throughout the evening as attendees wandered and climbed through four floors of entertainment including an excellent variety of live music, indoor and outdoor playgrounds, spin sessions by DJs, burlesque performers and even an in-house vintage clothing shop featuring its own side stage.

Like KDHX, the City Museum is ever evolving. Areas under construction at last year’s event were now open to exploration as renovations were being done on new sections. The evening was highlighted by musical acts ranging from traditional folk and country to modern rock and electronica.

Opening on the second floor, synth-pop group Née provided dance tunes beneath white icicle lights hanging from the ceiling. Meanwhile, the third floor was washed over by the folk and country blend of the Five and Dimers. On the other side of the building, burlesque performers entertained a packed house with three sets that included a grand finale male performer.

As the night continued, featured drinks by New Belgium and Sailor Jerry ensured a well-lubricated evening. Javier Mendoza was second to take the Whale Stage; the St. Louis veteran offered up a selection of singer-songwriter rock tunes attracting familiar fans and passers by who were simply following their ears.

Up again on the third floor, the Lawn Chair Brigade was present and in full effect as they marched around, snap-folding their chairs and providing a welcomed pre-show for the KDHX Blues Band (which included long-time 88.1 KDHX DJs Papa Ray, Art Dwyer, Ron Edwards and Michael McHenry). The crowd continued to expand as the band wielded wildly entertaining harmonica solos over lively and tight blues jams, attracting a wide variety of listeners.


The smiles spread as people danced joyfully around the building while Aaron Kamm & the One Drops performed their own unique blend of reggae and blues. Attracting one of the largest crowds of the evening, the three piece brought the positive vibes to another level. Hips and shoulders swayed to the smooth rhythms as Kamm sang and unleashed one epic guitar solo after another.

Back at the second floor Vault Stage, Warm Jets USA entertained with a raw and rugged blend of punk and alt-country. Their non-stop barrage of hard-hitting tunes heightened the night’s energy and prepared attendees to be blown away as they climbed up to the third floor once again.

True to their name, the Funky Butt Brass Band brought the horn-driven funk that was the perfect cap to the evening. Bodies grooved and jerked about as the band damn near blew the roof off. The call and response portions of the songs along with the insanely solid exchange of solos kept the massive crowd rocking right to the end.

There is a reason, or rather a multitude of reasons, why KDHX has a growing audience. Listeners are continuously rewarded with an exceptional array of music and feel blessed to be part of a unique music community.

As the evening’s mayhem came to a close, DJs and fans alike exchanged offerings of love and appreciation after recently completing the station’s annual spring membership drive. Following such a wonderful night of music and entertainment, there was only one common complaint: Why must it only be once a year?

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