Chandra Alford's Posts

Chandra Alford's Photo I'm a volunteer music writer for KDHX. I live in St. Louis.

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Concert review: A rock & roll newcomer experiences Jesse Malin & the St. Marks Social at the Firebird, Thursday, July 21

Jesse Malin

Jesse Malin & the St. Marks Social performed last night at the Firebird, making St. Louis a part of their U.S. tour behind the newly released album Love it to Life.

I was expecting to feel out of place with the small crowd, which appeared to be seasoned rock fans. This uneasiness was brought on by some of the stares I got as I walked into the club. Once I received my blue wristband, some of the odd stares went away, possibly, because this confirmed that I was not lost or at the wrong concert. I knew I had to let go of any preconceived notions I had about rock music, and to just allow myself to experience it.

The opening act, the Biters, did not give anyone new to this scene time to ease into the feel of things. They just plunged right in without any pretenses. I had never been to a live rock concert, and the filter that television provides did not prepare me for the electric force that was vibrating the concrete floor of the Firebird. My eardrums did not appreciate the shock waves that were stinging them, but the rest of me could not resist the hard, pulsating beat that the Biters were able to sustain while only being on stage for a short period.

Once my eardrums adjusted, the Biters were scrambling off the stage for the intermission. I thought, possibly, a smoke break would bring some relief to my eardrums. It did, and I found myself amongst members of the Biters and the St. Marks. Surprisingly, the smoldering heat had dissipated some, and we were accompanied with some cool winds. This session had those familiar feelings smokers have in which there is this unspoken acceptance in burning one’s lungs with a group of strangers, which ironically has a sense of normalcy.

This communal gathering did not last long, because the intermission was over and it was time to experience Jesse Malin and the St. Marks Social. The band was dressed in black. Malin explained, “We travel in all black to help keep us cool in the heat.” This bit of comic relief was present throughout the entire performance. “Burning the Bowery” was the first song of the set, and it maintained the energy that was left by the Biters.

I found myself singing along, and at this point I did not care about how I looked rocking to this song. Malin could not remember the last time he was in St. Louis or where he had performed, but this did not stop him from being right on with “Disco Ghetto.” The opening beat to this song sounds similar to Adele’s song “Rumor has It.” “Disco Ghetto,” at the present, is my favorite track on his new album. 

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