At Off Broadway on Monday night and playing a rare performance, St. Louis-based quartet Miles of Wire took the stage about 8:15 p.m. for an enjoyable set of original material that was firmly rooted in alt-country, but grabbed undertones from indie rock.
Discussing the band with others around the room, I learned that Miles of Wire hasn't played out much in the past five or six years. After hearing the 30-minute set, I surmised that if the Replacements and the Minutemen colored the country of Uncle Tupelo, then Pavement and Superchunk meant the same to this group.
Next on the bill were the Dive Poets. Their 45-minute set showed why they are one of the most solid original bands working in the St. Louis scene. The sextet played an upbeat set of roots rock that meshed nicely between both bands.
The lead guitar work of Karl Eggers and the keys of Christian Schaeffer color the strong harmonies provided by rhythm guitarist Eric Sargent and Anna Drexelius, who also shines on viola, while bassist Jeff York and drummer Renato Durante hold down the bottom end. Their sound allows all those who like any form of rock 'n' roll to join in and dance or just tap a foot in time.
Kasey Anderson and the Honkies returned to St. Louis just over seven weeks after playing a solid opening performance for night three of Twangfest 16. In the interim period they have supported the Counting Crows -- who recorded Anderson's "Like Teenage Gravity" for their new covers record "Underwater Sunshine" -- on their summer tour.
Last night, instead of playing the opening slot, Anderson and the Honkies -- Andrew McKeag on lead guitar, Mike Musburger on drums, Ty Bailie on keys and Will Moore on bass -- were the headliner and seemed quite at ease with the slot. The band played a laid-back, easy-going set of both original and cover songs. Anderson talked and cracked wise a bit more than he did back in June.
After the band opened with "Kasey Anderson's Dream," the singer looked out at the crowd and remarked to the 70 or so fans in the audience, "That would be fucked up if this was all of St. Louis." His dry wit continued, "Are there still a bunch of shitheads on the patio smoking? Somebody wanna round those fuckers up?"
Anderson didn't wait. He wound things back up for "Mercy," one of the best tracks off his 2011 release "Heart of a Dog" and a song that anyone who owns a copy of "Exile on Main St." would surely love.
When the final strains of “My Baby's a Wrecking Ball” subsided Anderson turned toward the bar. "Can we get a round of drinks to the stage?" Anderson asked. After some discussion with guitarist Andrew McKeag they finally settled on whiskey and a round of Stag tallboys. However, this was clearly the wrong choice as the next song "Exit Ghost" eventually turned into a medley of the Jimmy Buffett classic, "Margaritaville," which, if not for the well-known lyrics, most might have missed given Anderson's dry delivery.
"I'd like to dedicate this song to my good friend Brian Henneman," Anderson said before playing "Some Depression." Complete with the line "You got Tweedy and Farrar on your vanity plates / driving your Prius down the lost highway," the song is a cynical take on the alt-country purists of the world. Too bad Henneman wasn't in the house to get up and add a few guitar licks of his own.
Before the end of the main set, Anderson delivered a great version of Delbert McClinton's "Two More Bottles of Wine" and then McKeag took lead vocal on "Fall off the Wagon," a cover of a song by a fellow musician friend, Brian Berg written for the group 44 Long. After the guitars had been strapped back on for the encore, Anderson asked the audience if there was anything they wanted to hear. He must not have heard what he wanted to hear. "I'm not gonna play a Townes Van Zandt song! Buy a fucking Townes Van Zandt record." Instead he chose "Sirens and Thunder" showcasing the incendiary slide work of McKeag. Anderson then chose to showcase a new song, possibly called "Slipping Away," that he advised would be on a new record due out sometime next year.
Ending the evening on a high note, Anderson called for the Bob Dylan classic "Leopard-skin Pill-box Hat" and just as with a cover of "Outlaw Blues" at Twangfest last month, the Honkies did not disappoint. This version echoed the upbeat tempo of Dylan's own live versions from the 1966 tour with the Hawks. McKeag pulled out his Les Paul to play scorching leads while Bailie added that signature mid '60s organ sound; all the while, Anderson channeled the vitriol contained in the Dylan's lyrics.
Near the end of the night Anderson turned to KDHX DJ and staff member Chris Bay and asked "How's your birthday going?" to which Bay replied with arms outstretched, "I'm drunk." The consensus as the audience shuffled out the door was that Anderson and the staff at Off Broadway had done their job well.