Audra DeMariano's Posts

Audra DeMariano's Photo My name is Audra and I'm another happy KDHX Volunteer Music Writer. With this position, I get to combine two of my favorite things in life: writing and music. Follow my blog for more music reviews and live performance articles. Also, one more very important piece of advice...make sure to keep supporting the St. Louis music scene and enjoy what KDHX has to offer. Ready...Set...Enjoy.

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Concert review: Florence and the Machine and Hanni El Khatib bring on the rapture at the Pageant, Tuesday, July 5

Florence and the Machine at the Pageant, July 5, 2011

Dustin Winter

If heaven exists, last night’s Florence and the Machine concert painted a picture of what it’s like to be welcomed at the pearly gates. The Pageant became a magical place as the UK band graced the sold-out venue with heavenly sounds and eye-candy stage presence.

Fans waited out the steamy lines that wrapped around the Pageant for a night that wouldn’t even come close to disappointment. Once the crowd was packed in to every inch of the Pageant, the entertainment cued in around 8 p.m. when Los Angeles band Hanni El Khatib swaggered into the spotlight.

Singer-songwriter, Hanni El Khatib performed with drummer Nicky Fleming-Yaryan only to create a hotter environment for the start of last night’s show. Dressed in all-black, greaser fashion, the duo blended in with the simple backdrop. Hanni El Khatib did nothing but stand out once the rough, vintage garage rock took its fist and clenched onto the audience’s collective shirt collar. Images of muscle cars, greasers, switchblades, Los Angeles heat and bad-boy persona exuded from the stage.

The band’s live show could be compared to the intensity of Jack White and the blues-garage rock of the Black Keys with an alcoholic splash of ’50s rockabilly. Hanni El Khatib’s song “You Rascal You” is testimony to both rock styles. The tattooed Hanni controlled the stage as he thrashed about with his guitar, and audience members seemed to take to the LA singer. Many female voices could be heard “woo-ing” at every sexy yelp he threw into songs like “Dead Wrong.” Being HEK’s last night on the road with Florence and the Machine, the band brought thunder to the approaching storm of the night.

After the opening act, stage hands rushed behind the simple backdrop for 15 minutes in order to prepare for what was about to stun everyone. The audience roared as the black curtain raised and revealed British singer Florence Welch draped in flowing red chiffon. The singer looked like the redheaded ghost of Rita Hayworth as she fluidly moved across stage during opening song “My Boy Builds Coffins.” Performing in front of plush, gothic wallpaper, Welch’s old Hollywood attire echoed the passion of her booming voice, a voice that seemed to haunt the venue.

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Concert review: She Wants Revenge and Nico Vega cook at the Firebird, Tuesday, June 7

She Wants Revenge by Michael Muller / Michael Muller

At 9 p.m., while most St. Louisans were cooling down after a long day in the Show-Me (the Heat) State, many music lovers were just warming up for the She Wants Revenge and Nico Vega concert at the Firebird.

Even though the venue’s ceiling fans were working overtime to keep a comfortable audience, the show brought nothing but more musical heat to the crowd from start to finish.

The night began with a flood of red stage light that enveloped Los Angeles band Nico Vega throughout a raw and powerful set list. A rock show was born the moment lead singer, Aja Volkman’s voice packed a powerful punch through her microphone. She owned the stage with each graceful and vivacious move. The alternative rock band’s live show had a trance-like, fierce energy. Nico Vega could be limited to the alternative rock genre but that would almost cheapen the variety that they hold within every song.

The crowd at first seemed unfamiliar with the band’s music; however, after a song or two, people were pressed against the stage, punching the air and nodding their heads. The crowd wasn’t the only group enjoying the show; the band had a blast onstage as well. Volkman controlled the stage almost cat-like as she climbed onto the drum kit, jumped into the crowd and danced her heart out, basically using the stage as her scratching post. Compared to Karen O, Joan Jett and Janis Joplin, Volkman and her band command quite the stage presence.

As guitarist Rich Koehler and drummer Dan Epand ripped into a new song with heavy guitar riffs and bass drum, a stranger passed by me and said, “These guys are the real deal, aren’t they?” With that comment alone with only two songs down and many more to complete the time slot, it seemed that Nico Vega made a great impression on St. Louis.

When the red lights dimmed and the intermission was over, She Wants Revenge took the stage with a rush of deep blue light that set the tone for its chill and very edgy performance. The band’s music has been put into genres such as darkwave, post-punk revival, and alternative rock; however, lead singer Justin Warfield likes to simply consider it as, “dancy rock & roll.” Their fans showed great support in the audience. Whether it was the hip nine-year-old in front of me dancing to the hypnotic, hip-catching beats or girls singing along to every word in each song, the band held a presence about them that made for an intimate show.

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Concert review: Firebrand Showcase with the Humanoids, Kentucky Knife Fight and the Blind Eyes at Off Broadway, Saturday, November 13

Some of St. Louis’ best bands came out to play at Off Broadway Saturday night to support their favorite music playground: Firebrand Recording. The local recording label hosted its 2nd Annual Firebrand Showcase, featuring the Humanoids, Kentucky Knife Fight and the Blind Eyes. The event was a hit considering the bar’s flowing stream of alcohol and, best of all, the samplings of impressive local music that would please any rock palate.

Each band that performed seemed to outdo itself song after song throughout the evening. For a night dedicated to support Firebrand Recording and what the local music scene has to offer, all three bands acted as a great push-up bra for the label’s notoriety. The Humanoids, Kentucky Knife Fight and the Blind Eyes kept the audience dancing (2 guys actually fought over dance floor space) and singing along to their lyrics. It seemed that after each set there were more people visiting the merch table to buy CDs or t-shirts out of full interest in the music played. Despite the very long intermissions, the show ran smoothly and successfully.

St. Louis band, the Humanoids, kicked off the night with a race to the punk finish line; the band sprinted from song to song. The rough and tumble punk sound of their music was a wake-up call after the slow set up time. With vocals that cut like a razor blade and instrumentals that got my heart racing, the 5-member band didn’t disappoint as their set progressed. Somewhat resembling music that says, “Hey! Let’s beat the crap out of each other then go get a beer,” the simple, barbaric, punk rock is tough but welcoming. The only drawback of the set was the overwhelming volume, but somehow it worked with the band’s strong-willed music. Looking around the crowd, it was evident that the Humanoids had the audience captivated.

Kentucky Knife Fight’s act was about as sharp as their attire. Their southern blues/rock/punk sound kept the venue filled with soulful melodies and turned the audience into a dancing wave of people. The backyard blues style of music is reminiscent of classic rock and blues; however, the band’s music has an edge that makes it something special on the St. Louis music scene. Songs like, “Sex Crimes,” halfway into the set were smooth with a dash of sexy, judging by some couples’ dance moves in the crowd. Altogether, the band’s incorporation of banjo, harmonica, bass, guitar, drums, clapping and stomping combined a feeling of Southern chivalry and outlaw mentality.

The last band of the showcase, the Blind Eyes, gave a sweet touch to the end of the night. Named one of the Best Bands of 2009 by The Riverfront Times, the Blind Eyes are pleasant and playful with their take on indie rock. With three members leading the band, the sound is layered with old school rock and charm. Lovely in the way they sing, strum, and drum, the Blind Eyes create a certain innocence in their music that made me fall in love with their catchy songs.

As if all three bands didn’t already perform with a fire on their own, the end of the night finished off with a supergroup performance in which all 3 bands combined to play one last song. With two drum kits, three guitars, two basses, three singers and one clapper, Off Broadway thundered as the collective performed Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys are Back in Town.” The night ended on a fun note as the 11 musicians performed “karaoke style,” glancing at the lyric sheet and laughing together. By watching all of the bands perform at once on stage, it was evident that Firebrand Recording is creating a genuine force within St. Louis music.

Concert review: Electric Six, Constellations and the Breaks light up Halloween at the Firebird, Sunday, October 31

There is only one explanation as to why a handful of scantily clad, sweaty Abraham Lincolns were dancing at the Firebird: Electric Six was playing a Halloween show. Packed with fans in costumes, the Firebird was filled floor to ceiling with electrifying music and intense dance moves…and that was just the warm up for the Detroit-based band, currently touring behind the album Zodiac.

The night started off with a St. Louis group, the Breaks, whose Indie rock croons and staccato beats got the crowd singing along. From a Smurf on keys to a dinosaur doctor on guitar, the band was just as fun to hear as they were to watch rock out in Halloween garb. The memorable moments of its performance included powerful drumming, sweet vocals and enough guitar licks to get to the center of a rock tootsie pop.

After the crowd’s neck muscles had warmed up from swaying, the high, intense dance workout picked up once Atlanta natives, the Constellations took the stage. The band’s sound is a musical crock pot incorporating blues, pop, electro, rap, hip hop and funk (basically everything but the kitchen sink). With a broad-shouldered bassist dressed in Cruella de Vil drag, the rest of the musicians made the Dalmatians look edgier than ever as they owned the room. High energy was in no way hidden from the crowd as the keyboardists’ spastic switch from keys to cowbell to high hats coincided with the groove. The layered sparks of soul in the Constellations’ music were the perfect way to jump start the performance to follow.

Beads of sweat were already forming on most of the audience members when Electric Six finally took the stage. Calm and collected but zany nonetheless, Dick Valentine ignited the venue with his smooth vocals and coy dance moves. Classic songs, “Gay Bar” and “Gay Bar Part 2,” turned the Firebird into a steady wave of dancing, sweating and shouting bodies. From there, the level of fun could be measured in the melting face paint smearing from two of the band members’ faces (The Colonel and Smorgasbord).

Electric Six’s live performance echoed the sound of Zodiac, clearly not disappointing the smiling fans from the front of the row to the back wall. The shredding of the guitars and heavy thumping from the bass and the drum set electrified the performance. In the end, the live show was just as bold as Valentine’s red, silk button-down and gyrating dancing.