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Wednesday, 02 January 2013 14:50

Best of 2012: Elevated Rhymestate's top 10 concerts in St. Louis

Stanley Clarke at Jazz at the Bistro Stanley Clarke at Jazz at the Bistro Wil Wander
Written by Wil Wander

This was my first full calendar year attending concerts for KDHX as a photographer and journalist, and it certainly helped keep me regularly attending shows.

By year's end, I will have tallied nearly 40 nights of music, and I can't say that a single night disappointed. I've dug through my notes and photos to reflect on my year, and here are the 10 that stand out above the rest.

All photos by Wil Wander.

Warpdive VII at St. Charles Family Arena - February 4

Panoptic Productions stepped it up for its biggest annual event and moved to a larger venue with better amenities. The production was extravagant and the performances were magnificent. It featured BT, Marco V and EOTO on the headliners and a slew of local talent as well.

Chali 2na at 2720 Cherokee - March 7

Chali joined up with a live band to deliver an absolutely joyous performance. He played many of our favorite tracks and mixed in a few surprises as well. The show also included Needles opening up and DJ and Mathias performing new material.

Doomtree at the Firebird - March 10

The Minneapolis supergroup came in to the KDHX studio and then performed that night at the Firebird. They didn't only draw their fans, but added just about every member of the local hip-hop community. The entire audience was slain, and the best of St. Louis stood in awe.

Electric Lot Party at MayFest at Ballpark Village - May 18

4Sho Productions throws a giant tent party in the middle of downtown and used some big names to fill it. I'd say the turn-out was actually a little below expectations, but the show was more than satisfying. Z-Trip headlined and played a tremendous set, and Matt Darey made a great first impression on me.

Stanley Clarke at Jazz at the Bistro - May 23

I wasn't expecting this show to blow me away. Last season, Stanley came to the Bistro with Hiromi Uehara, an easy contender for my favorite musician. That was an amazing night, but was lacking one important thing that this year's tour included: Ronald Bruner Jr. on drums. Bruner redefined how I looked at drums with his part in Clarke's "The Toys of Men" album, and I had forever been eager to see him live. Neither Clarke nor Bruner disappointed, and I was further endeared to Ruslan Sirota, who appeared as part of "The Stanley Clarke Band" release. All three musicians put together an amazing show, and I feel honored to have experienced it.

Sierra Leone's Refugee All-Stars at 2720 Cherokee - May 30

I'm fearful to include this because it would be impossible to describe this show without admitting that sometimes I actually do dance at shows. In the case of this show, I only stopped dancing long enough to take pictures and make sure the entire place wasn't laughing at me. In addition to a phenomenal headlining show, Mario Pascal & the Roots Fusion Band delivered an amazing opening set.

Do the Dam Thing at Bagnell Dam Campground - August 11

It's no secret that I had a lot to say about this festival, so I'll keep this brief. The talent came from all over, although unfortunately the people didn't. Even with Brother Ali and Blueprint headlining, the crowds were rather minor, but the performances were worthwhile. Largely representing Missouri, the acts brought good music throughout the day, along with breakdancing, graffiti and BMX jumps. It's a shame there wasn't a better turn out and this might prove even more priceless as a one-time event.

Marcus Miller at Jazz at the Bistro - September 9

Marcus Miller received my nod for favorite concert last year when he came with George Duke and David Sanborn, but I didn't expect to see him again so soon. To defy my expectations further, he came to Jazz at the Bistro, which is far smaller and more intimate than I'd expect him to play. I had the privilege to see one of my favorite musicians in the entire history of music from less than five feet away. Need I say more? No, but it wouldn't hurt to mention that he brought an incredible back-up band with him, highlighted by Alex Han on saxophone.

EOTO at 2720 Cherokee - September 22

EOTO already stands alone in the world of music by being the only (that I'm aware) fully-improvised live, electronic music act. They stepped it up this time bringing the innovative Lotus Stage which featured a row of white, lotus leaf-shaped panels at the front and rear of the stage, with precise projections beaming actively moving lights and patterns, leaf by leaf, and additional background patterns and even spot lights that made shadows part of the show. Forever innovators, this show was both visually and aurally amazing.

Booty Halloween 9 at the Scottish Rite - October 20

It had been a while since I'd been to a Booty Halloween (I think #3 was my last year), but couldn't resist finally seeing the Crystal Method as they headlined an excellent night. This event had three performance rooms including the more chill VIP section, brilliant costumes all around and a range of amazing DJs. Perhaps one of my favorite moments of the year was being on stage to take pictures with TCM. That was a moment I'd been waiting for since I first grabbed Tweekend back in the fall of 2000.

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