Joe Pug channels American acoustic music in a way that few modern musicians can. His songs are at once timeless, spare and intellectual. They weave a tapestry of intricate poetry, completed by Pug's indomitable and spiritual delivery.
Where to begin? The City Museum alone is a multi-level, dizzying attraction of slides, wrought-iron climbing structures, curiosities, aquatic life and gorgeous tile mosaics.
Fans sporting tattoos, beanies, backwards hats and dark clothing crowded into the Pageant ready for a sold-out Deftones show. Never have I seen (in recent memory) so many sleeved-up men and women. It made my own tattoos (also on display) seem oddly normal, their counter-culture aspect weirdly nullified by the inky surroundings.
The Dublin, Ireland four-piece Kodaline, previously known as 21 Demands, opened with a set of breezy tunes helmed by Stephen Garrigan's nigh-falsetto vocals. The sound played multilayered and grandiose, like a more alternative rock version of Mumford & Sons, with crashing waves of piano, acoustic strumming and vibrant bass.
Samuel Fickie opened with a set of introspective tunes full of romantic import. His tone was lovelorn with sparkling bits of darkened humor complete with elements of local St. Louis insight twisted atop.
Josh Ritter is simultaneously a music writer's sweetest dream and worst nightmare. His highly narrative and hook-laden songs capture audiences with their stories of angels, devils, gods, nightmares, dreams, historical figures, animals and lost loves.
Of Mice and Men's ectomorphic lead singer, Austin Carlile, strode on stage and perched atop one of three platforms a group of roadies had set up moments earlier. He smiled a toothy smile as the rest of the band slinked on stage.
While the album's title, "Everything's Fine, America," may be ironic, the music of Last to Show First to Go is anything but.
Sample-stringer and beat-master Corin Roddick began working on arrangements for the Purity Ring while on tour with Gobble Gobble in 2010. Soon, singer Megan James was tapped to add her warm vocals and introspective lyrics (culled from her once private diary) to form an ethereal and haunting brand of indie-pop underscored with an indelible hip-hop methodology.