In the Crowd: The Life And Times
In the Crowd #12/The Life and Times
St. Louis/Rocket Bar
Okay, I showed up a little early. I probably sat for like an hour and a half before the bands went on. But that was my fault. I should have known better. When there are only 2 bands on the bill, things almost never start until later. It did, however, give me a chance to meet a couple guys from local band Riddle of Steel, though, and establish a connection for setting up an interview with them (hopefully coming soon to an indieworkshop page near you).
To begin with, I should tell you a bit about the vibe for this show. Both bands are from Kansas City. As the show was in St. Louis, that's almost like the bands playing a local show. I'd seen The Life and Times once before at a show with Ring, Cicada (who are also from St. Louis), and was highly impressed, so that's what drew me to this show. The crowd this night was not overly huge; when the bands played, there were a good 15-20 people standing in front of the stage, but everyone else was closer to the bar area. The place was not as packed as I've seen it before, but it certainly wasn't empty.
Upon talking with Jimmy from Riddle of Steel, he had nothing but great words to say about both bands. Stella Link are on Ascetic Records (which is also Riddle of Steel's label) and have a record coming out soon. The Life and Times are on 54 40 or Flight! (which is also Ring, Cicada's label- who were also present at the show). The whole show had that great bands-supporting-like-bands vibe, and I actually found myself becoming excited to witness a scene of really good, interesting music in my local hometown. Truth be told, St. Louis has not historically been a great bastian of original music; cover bands usually get more attention, and there's a weird sort of urban inferiority complex about the whole city that practically submerses any sort of creative thrust beyond the usual in feelings of inadequacy. Which is stupid really, because I've seen several bands from large, beautiful cities that have no such self-depricating notions (and some of them really should, in my opinion).
Anyway. On to the show.
Rocket Bar is a great venue for this city. I've seen many great bands there in the past several months (being a recent transplant, I'm still learning the cool places), and they regularly support local bands (all of the aforementioned bands have played there). The stage is set up at the back of the club in an area about 4 steps higher than the bar area. So, even if you're sitting at the bar, you can still see the band- which is a great idea.
Stella Link played first, and this was the first time I had heard them. It's sort of difficult to describe them; they don't have an easily categorized sound (to their credit). What tended to come to mind between the jangly two guitar (and some keyboards/samples) bass drums makeup was a heavier, crisper Ester Drang. The opening piece was (I believe) mostly instrumental, and used a nice Telecaster tone (the band actually could've been an ad for Fender, with both guitarists and bassist using their instruments) ringing out single note broken chords in a 7-beat pattern, adding other instruments over the course of the song until it amassed into a giant wash of sound. Some of their songs used mid to slower tempos and were instrumental while others were more rock-twinged and used some vocals, albeit sparingly. The variety was nicely put together. Their instrumentation was great- the bassist (David Gaume, formerly of Aerialuxe) used a wide variety of effects, and the wonderful lead guitar's (Wade Williamson, formerly of Dirt Nap, Season to Risk, and The String and Return) Telecaster tone was so crisp. The singer/guitarist/keyboardist (Justin Warring) was pretty busy managing his various duties, and the drummer (Chris Metcalf, formerly of Season to Risk) was fabulous. A great band whose new record I am highly anticipating. Watch their site (and ours) for 2 weeks of tour dates in December.
The Life and Times are one of those power trio bands who (thankfully) don't sound like the traditional power trio. The band features Allen Epley (formerly of Shiner) on guitar and vocals, John Meredith (formerly of Someday) on bass and gutiar, and Mike Myers (formerly of The String and Return) on drums. They're powerful in the beautiful, soaring, sonically crushing sense. I have a hard time understanding how a 3-piece can create such a fat sound. This being the second time I've caught them live, I sort of knew what to expect. But I was still left in awe. Fans of Failure and Year of the Rabbit will surely find something pleasing in the music of The Life and Times: fantastic chord changes and melodies, huge drums (I absolutely love Mike Myers' playing- he hits damn hard and is so solid and inventive at the same time), a brooding heaviness that draws you in, and an overall confident attack that strikes with conviction (which can be difficult for bands to accomplish). Amazing rhythm section, wonderful vocals, great songs. The white light shining toward the audience from the bass drum was a very cool effect- it sure beats crappy red and green lights you usually see at shows. The band's 23-minute ep is enough to keep me satiated for now, but I sure hope they've got a new record in the works. In the meantime, look the record up; it's well worth it.
My night was completed by having Mr. RandomGQDood with TinyHotttGirl in tow walking up to me and asking me what the name of the place was. Even though the very first thing you see when you walk in the door is a giant wall painted with a pulp comic-style astronaut carrying a girl over his shoulder under the huge words "ROCKET BAR". Evidently they were in the wrong place.
Related indieworkshop reviews:
The Life and Times
Riddle of Steel
Photos by Sebastian S. Stirling
- Eirc Burnley | 2003-11-14
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