Possibly tuning up longer than they had time to play, I watched Men Working in Trees working on instruments that used to be trees. When finally tuned, they pumped out bright indie pop with rude-boy walking bass lines, which would held portent for the night. About midway through the set the lead singer regretted not having any "things" at the merch booth. Having "things" is very important to the economic part of being a band. Not only does it get you additional money, but it also gets you renown. It's what makes the record turn.
However, "things" contrast with consumerism moderne where you pare down a CD collection, vinyl, photographs, notebooks and relationships into a single device. Anytime you can follow your brain on a path like that, there's some good music underscoring it. So, in that sense, they were almost a religious experience.
After the locals the seven-piece ensemble that is Library Voices took the over the stage. On their way to SXSW from Canada, St. Louis was the furthest south they had ever ventured. Despite not playing any ska at all they somehow got the crowd skanking. Yes, that reads skanking and should be interpreted as skanking hard. Even the guy with the five-toed Vibram shoes kept going after getting goose-stepped on.
The Lighthouse and the Whaler were next in line to inherit the stage and running-man crowd. It has to be difficult to create resplendently-soaring music on top of a driving beat when you have two violins. The Ohioans somehow did so. Next to the drummer sat an additional floor tom, snare and tambourine. These were steadily wielded with the speed of propellers. Stable melodies took residence like Venice over a mercurial foundation of rhythm.
It was hard to tell if the crowd had gotten smaller or if everyone was just standing closer together by the time Pomegranates took the stage. Cute may not be the right word to describe Pomegranates, but it's the first word that comes to mind when you see their adorable boyish faces and pink guitar. Their looks did not betray their sound, but they did belie the amount of power Pomegranates can breed. Though the crowd was small, the energy was plentiful. By encore time, the venue stunk of a 20-year-old locker room.
Heavy on reverb and retro, Pomegranates brought cassettes as one of their "things" that were available for only a limited time. But then again, isn't everything only available for a limited time?
All photos of Pomegranates by Jamie DeVillez.