A sense of timing is imperative to the success of launching a record label, playing a good show and throwing a party.
St. Louis' own Old Lights opened the second day of LouFest with class and passion. Their set was mostly attended by old fans and friends with a slow trickle of people coming in during the music.
It was surreal to roll through Forest Park Saturday morning, past bikers and joggers, the quiet fountains, apartment buildings looming like mountains on either side of the park, and then, the sound of Troubadour Dali's "Ducks In A Row" coasting out from atop the central field.
Scottrade Center's first floor was a jammed and buzzing scene before John Legend took the stage last night. It was also just weird.
Britches, Yowie, Gnarwhal and Marnie Stern (playing in that order) represent a formidable and tightly wound playbill -- all the bands are wheeling in roughly the same sonic orbit, but their approaches are disparate, and they are all at vastly different stages in their musical lives.
The lightning and rain was hunching the smokers over when I arrived at the Luminary on Saturday night. Everyone else was jogging or speed walking to get out of the storm.
In the old, quiet-looking stone building resting across from Tower Grove Park on Kingshighway, there's something interesting going on. You go down some steps, enter a huge, low-ceilinged room that's furnished like a upper-middle class basement in West County -- low, warm lights, dry wall everywhere, marble-topped bar -- and find yourself surrounded by probably a lot of clean, wide-eyed young people you've never seen at other shows in St. Louis.
Deerhoof is a dynamic band -- always one step ahead, knocking down musical boundaries and conventions with muscle, fervor and style gleaned from the world of music outside America. On the band's latest record, Deerhoof Vs. Evil, every sound is a strange surprise or an experiment, and it almost always turns out well for the listener.
In 1975, in his book Mystery Train, Greil Marcus wrote of Randy Newman: "Newman is afraid of his sensibility, to the degree that he has to get it over to an audience." 36 years later, here he is in the Sheldon Concert Hall, sitting on his piano bench before a great Steinway, which yawned at a full house of devoted fans, many of them around his age -- and Mr. Newman seems only moderately comfortable.
The Old Rock House was already standing room only when I got there on Tuesday night. Waitresses milled through low light into a host of well-dressed, mostly middle-aged folks sitting packed together at candlelit tables before the stage when Leon Redbone sidled with a cane up the stage steps like a ghost. Redbone's piano man played him onstage with Anton Karas's zither theme from The Third Man, and by the time the man sat down on his stool with archaic guitar, gambler's sunglasses, mustache and old hat all intact, he was all real.