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Sunday, 20 July 2014 20:25

Concert review: Local showcase with Bagheera, the Ruthless and Hope & Therapy offers a brilliant study in diversity at the Heavy Anchor, Saturday, July 19

Bagheera at the Heavy Anchor Bagheera at the Heavy Anchor Colin Suchland
Written by Jason Warren
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On any given Saturday night in St. Louis there is a triple bill of great local sounds pouring from the doors of any given club. This past Saturday night at the Heavy Anchor was no exception.

The show featured three female-fronted (for a lack of better sub-genre specific term) rock bands. Bagheera, the Ruthless and Hope & Therapy took the audience on an auditory journey that moved from progressive fusion to teenage angst to indie-based sounds.

The first beat of Drew Mader's Drums, Dan Deck's bass, and Hope Gaines' blue-eyed soul voice and ethereal keyboards laid down evidence that Hope & Therapy stands apart from the pack. The three of them produce a powerful sound that defies categorization, and as they progressed through their set, it was obvious that they meant business.

Gaines' voice can easily fit crooning along to Adele or Joss Stone but takes a less beaten path exploring the fringes of popular music. Mader and Deck provide a rhythmic backing that sounds like combination of old-school funk pocket bass with Manchester beats, but they can quickly shift to the raw power of Geezer Butler and Bill Ward to a jazz fusion groove as played by Radiohead.

Alone these elements might seem a bit much and take away from the songs, but the beauty in Hope & Therapy's sound is that these elements only enhance the songs' dynamic range and provide a great foil for Gaines' piano and voice.

The Ruthless provide a polar opposite to Hope & Therapy with their snotty Midwest punk by way of So-Cal pop. The band is comprised of Kaleigh Lane's tough and snotty vocals, Gabbi Lane's jangle-laden guitars and the enthusiastic rhythm section of Loki Kennedy on bass and drummer John Mason.

The band thrashed through its set with reckless abandon that found Kennedy's bass lines bouncing on and off the stage with an ADD-like propulsion. Their punk smattering at times slowed down and seemed to be on a course reminiscent of early emo herald by Gabbi Lane's opening guitar parts with roots related to Peter Buck, but the sound quickly reverted back to three chords and the truth -- the essence of rock 'n' roll.

Breaking from the music scene for several years, the husband and wife duo of Ted and Heather Moll, known to the scene as Bagheera, have been making their way back to the stage. Instead of isolating the sound to a guitar, the drum and voice duo has brought Julie Gibbs into the fold on bass. All three of them were in the St. Louis band Climber, and Ted Moll is well known for being the drummer of St. Louis ska bastards MU330.

The three create an indie-rock sound powerful in all the right ways. They blasted through a set of mostly new songs, only playing "Long Division" and "True Silver" from their 2004 Asian Man Records release "Twelves." The new songs showcased an exponential musical growth and cohesion between both Heather and Ted.

The combination of Ted's thunderous drums gave Gibbs the perfect pocket to slip in her dynamic bass. This allowed for Heather to hammer out her guitar parts and give a tough but sweet vocal performance suggestive of the Throwing Muses. This was only re-enforced when she and Ted would share vocal duties and harmonies. The new songs had a heavier sound but still retained the melodic basis that Bagheera is known for.

Bagheera was the perfect ending to a night of rock 'n' roll at the Heavy Anchor. These three bands -- Hope & Therapy, The Ruthless and Bagheera -- played the music that comes naturally to them. Such a great diversity in styles is something this river town should be proud of.

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