Twenty One Pilots | 2.13.12

live 21pilots

Firebird, St. Louis

Note: I wanted to share my review of Twenty One Pilots from their 2012 show at the Firebird in St. Louis, MO. Seeing how far this band has come in just five years gives some perspective.

Twenty One Pilots fully encompassed every inch of the Firebird on a cold Wednesday night in St. Louis. Over an hour before the doors opened, hundreds of fans lined up outside for the sold-out show. Once doors opened, they did not move an inch as the headliners as well as the openers from Denmark, New Politics, took the stage.

New Politics, having previously played the Firebird, seemed extremely impressed looking at the large crowd that had filled in. The band from Copenhagen played through the majority of their first album in their short set and kept the crowd in it with a mix of fun pop-rock and rap, as well as a brief look into Euro-style break dancing by lead vocalist David Boyd.

The band played well with the ladies in the crowd, and given their (supposedly) not self-given doppelganger appointed looks, this was no surprise. Boyd proclaimed he was the James Franco of the group, with guitarist Soren Hansen playing the part of Kurt Cobain and drummer Louis Vecchio as Adam Levine.

All dancing and looks aside, the band put on a seriously awesome performance that left the crowd wanting more and looking forward to their upcoming album. New single “Harlem,” which is not related to the current “Harlem Shake” fad, gave a good sneak peek into the sound of the new album and got the crowd pumped up for the Ohioan headliners.

Twenty One Pilots—consisting of lead singer/pianist Tyler Joseph and drummer Joshua Dun—have jumped into the public eye since their December set at Peabody Opera House opening for fun. and The Joy Formidable. They scored a record deal with Atlantic subsidiary Fueled by Ramen a year ago, and now receive heavy radio play on alternative rock stations.

The duo quickly got the crowd moving, taking the stage in hoodies that fully covered their faces with the first song off their new album Vessel, “Ode to Sleep.” The song owes its intro to alternative bands like Hollywood Undead and further-reaching ’90s rap-rock, but quickly dives into a much more piano-pop friendly demeanor that takes over the rest of the night.

Seeming almost shocked by the crowd singing to every word and his every movement, Joseph had to take almost a full minute in between ukulele-featuring songs “Screen” and “House of Gold.” He proclaimed that every member of the crowd was a member of the band, though later in the show he admitted it felt a bit as if “you guys chased us around town all day, finally got us cornered and made us perform for you.”

Part of that awkward, uncomfortable feeling of watching a band discover its newfound fame is fun in itself. This is only amplified by an awareness that the next time they come through town will be at a much larger venue, losing some of that intimate feeling of a band personally expressing its appreciation.

Joseph spouts lyrics about depression that appeal to a new generation, while also bringing everyone together to say “remember this moment, when you and the other people in the room experienced this together, and how happy you are.” That group mentality is what drives fans to line up in the cold to get closer, and develops a near cult-like devotion. Alternative bands like 30 Seconds to Mars and My Chemical Romance have developed this so wonderfully by bringing the “broken people” together, as everyone in the crowd sings, lifting them all. | Bruce Matlock

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MUSE/ Thirty Seconds to Mars | 6.13.17

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Rock has changed through the decades. Muse have changed over the last decade plus. When I first discovered them they were the headbanging band standing on the table in the “Time is Running Out” video. It could be said I learned how to headbang watching bassist Chris Wolstenholme playing the opening bassline to “Hysteria”.

This tour gave me access to fanboy excessively due to the stage setup that extended out into the pit area. As #Wolstenbeast ripped into that opening riff, I was transported back to being a 17-year-old kid.

Over the years I’ve grown frustrated with the bands’ insistence on providing America audiences with decidedly shorter and more pop-heavy sets than their European counterparts. Songs like “Micro Cuts”, “Assassin” and “Butterflies and Hurricanes” are routinely rotated overseas while American audiences are lucky to be thrown a bone and receive “Bliss” which lead singer/guitarist Matt Bellamy joked on Tuesday night, “a few of you might know.”

 

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“The Handler”

 

Having said all that, I had an excellent time. The first half of the set had my jaw constantly dropped as the band joyfully ripped through songs from a large portion of their catalogue. “Map of the Problematique” is always wonderful live, “Bliss” was bliss and “The Handler” is quickly becoming a great standard, and it’s visually impressive as well, with the band performing in front of giant hands pulling their puppet strings.

19149471_10154492985031976_1360083490405112541_nThe second half slipped a bit with a cover of The Cramps “New Kind of Kick” for which Bellamy was absent, and the combination of “Starlight” and “Madness” which just seem droll by comparison. Luckily, “Mercy” and “The Globalist” work well to end the main set, with the former stunning the crowd with massive amounts of confetti and the later with on-stage visuals.

 

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Leto rocking a look he described as “Stone Cold Steve Austin mixed with someone’s Grandma”

 

Before Muse took to the stage, Thirty Seconds to Mars played a brief set that lead singer, Jared Leto, noted was just a warm up for an album to be released in 2017 and a tour to follow. As 105.7 the Point’s Donald Fandango noted, St. Louis LOVES this band. They’ve been selling out shows  The Pageant since they released A Beautiful Lie in August of 2005.

19148998_10154492984506976_356228607502370355_nUnfortunately they didn’t have any new songs to play, which was disappointing, but as usual, Leto and co. more than made up for it with charisma and crowd interaction. Not only was there a proposal, Leto brought three crowd members onstage to judge which side of the crowd was more passionate, and as usual, the band brought up dozens of fans for the set-ending “Closer to the Edge”.

Show openers PVRIS also got the crowd going with an energetic set. New single, “Heaven” was well received, but it was “You and I” and “My House” off the bands’ debut album White Noise that got the crowd jumping and ready for what would be an excellent evening.

Roger Waters | 5.30.2017

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Three dates into the newly unveiled Us + Them World Tour, Roger Waters brought the epic political spectacle to the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, MO. The tour has received widespread publicity for its intense scrutiny of President Donald Trump.

Kansas City’s date featured several people reportedly walking out with middle fingers raised during Animals song “Pigs (Three Different Ones).” There was only one noticeable walkout in St. Louis, as an attendee raised a Trump yard sign as he was peacefully escorted out.  Waters noted towards the show’s end that, “Some morons suggested we might not receive a very warm welcome here in St. Louis, but we have received a very warm welcome. It means a great deal to us.”

For the first time in my adult life, Waters is not touring behind a classic Pink Floyd album, but rather had put together a set that blends expertly with a few songs off of his rock release since 1992 album, Amused to Death, titled Is This the Life We Really Want? The new songs blend seamlessly, which is great news for fans of Pink Floyd. “Smell the Roses” and “The Last Refugee” particularly stood out.

The stage is intense and perfect. The screen is as large as the famous wall from his last tour when assembled. There were some staging issues that arose before the St. Louis show. The large screen that stretched over the middle portion of the crowd during “Dogs” and “Pigs (Three Different Ones) apparently malfunctioned during rehearsals, so a decision was made to take it down to avoid any potential crowd danger issues.

At the end of the day, it didn’t matter. The stage was stunningly executed, the sound was PERFECT, and the crowd returned the love sent to it. As the iconic pyramid was formed from lasers during “Comfortably Numb” it finally hit me how surreal of a moment I was actually in. As two giant hands on the screen finally connected and an explosions of confetti with the word, “Resist” printed on them rained from the sky, a sense of connectivity washed over the crowd. Political messaging aside, this was a night that brought together Waters collective discography and (almost) everyone in the room.

Video:

Finale

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“Another Brick in the Wall”

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Green Day | 10.26.16

It isn’t very often a band in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame plays a venue that holds under 2,300 rabid music lovers.  That was the case as Green Day wrapped up their small club tour at The Pageant in St. Louis, MO. The show was supposed to be the first date of the tour, but ended up coming last due to a sickness that forced the band to postpone three dates. Lead singer Billy Joe Armstrong thanked the fans for their patience and said nothing was going to stop them from making the rescheduled gig.

The story starts sometime well before the show though. When a band that size does go on a tour that is designed for the fans, special ticket redemption scenarios are often implemented to keep tickets out of the hands of scalpers. This took the form of a fan club presale that forced ticket buyers to enter the venue only with the credit card they purchased them with. Everyone else in attendance was forced to pick up tickets via the box office on the day of the show.

As the show was kicking off inside with opener Dog Party, hundreds remained in line to get their tickets from the box office, no doubt to the frustration of many. The Sacramento punk two-piece roared through a set worthy of the headliners. The sisters Lucy and Gwendolyn Giles focused on tracks from Til You’re Mine ending with a raucous cover of Bikini Kill track “Rebel Girl” while Green Day drummer Tre Cool danced on stage in a 14889756_10153876897946976_1556539113537330781_o.jpgbunny outfit.

Before Green Day emerged, the crowd came together in a singalong as “Bohemian Rhapsody” blasted over the loud speakers. Once their vocal chords were properly warmed up, Green Day emerged with the only track that would be heard from 21st Century Breakdown, “Know Your Enemy”. The band have never been one to shy away from controversy, and Armstrong came head first at it, calling out Donald Trump to thunderous boos from the crowd.

After that though, Armstrong seemed much more interested in peace and love, calling for the crowd to let the show be their “own personal underground” where they didn’t have to put up with the “bullshit” outside. New songs “Bang Bang”, “Still Breathing”, and “Revolution Radio” all became loud singalongs, which is extremely impressive considering the album came out just two weeks before the show.

“Geek Stink Breath” and “Going to Pasalacqua” both received their first airing in 2016 in the fan-service portion of the show, and the crowd wasn’t quite a receptive, though that might have just been more of a mid-set energy dip.

Closing out the rock portion of the evening were “American Idiot” and “Jesus of Suburbia”. The tracks still feel as relevant as they did in 2004 when the album was released in the heart of the Bush administration, and the album may be one of the best of the aughts.

Sadly, things did have to end after two-and-a-half hours and 30 songs. Armstrong returned to the stage alone with an acoustic guitar to play the excellent new track “Ordinary World” and a staple, “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)”. It felt bittersweet, yet knowing the band is just beginning its touring cycle is a bit of a relief. However, no arena show will compare with this intimate evening. | Bruce Matlock

8 years later, back in St. Louis

Smashing Pumpkins at the Fox Theatre

For the past two years, I couldn’t help but wonder aloud why Billy Corgan had brought the Smashing Pumpkins back to be ridiculed, and insulted.
The band released Zeitgeist in 2007 and left fans feeling the same way. It’s not that the CD was awful, just that it wasn’t that good, and it certainly wasn’t a reunion featuring fan favorites James Iha and D’Arcy Wretzky.
Billy Corgan has often been accused of just bringing the band back for a quick cash grab before leaving again. I, however am back on the Pumpkins ship.
After their return to St. Louis on November 26th, all my faith in Billy, and whoever he chooses to put around him, has been restored.
The band was of course fashionably late, coming on stage around fifteen minutes after scheduled start time,  to the roaring guitar strums of one of the better songs off of Zeitgeist, “Tarantula”.
Jimmy Chamberlin’s drumming immediately showed it’s as strong as ever, and he continues to be the only stabilizing feature of the Pumpkins, and Billy Corgan’s other musical half.
New bass player Ginger Reyes then dove into one of the heaviest Pumpkins bass lines in a very long time on new single, “G.L.O.W.” The song is a driving force that distinctively proves that Corgan is as capable as ever as a hit producing front man.
“Siva” came next featuring the first of many “jam” moments of the night, almost as a reminder in case anyone had forgotten that Corgan still knows how to play a blistering guitar solo.
The hits seemingly were on a never ending  streak, continuing with “Eye” and “Tonight, Tonight”, but this was the groups first return to St. Louis since the reunion two years ago, and eight years since their last visit overall, so maybe he was trying to make up for the absence.

Many dates on the “20th Anniversary Tour” have received less than glowing reviews, as Corgan often seems perturbed with the crowd as he goes off on a twenty minute cover of Pink Floyds “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun”, which goes over less than swimmingly with fans hoping for actual Pumpkins songs.
As it turned out, that song would end this show as well to the usual reaction, but not before a set list full of classics, which even featured Corgan pulling out an acoustic guitar for his cover of “Landslide” originally performed by Fleetwood Mac.
The band covered over two and a half hours, which was actually cut a little bit shorter than other dates on the tour due to Corgan having a persisting cold.
Corgan seemed in great spirits, maybe it was the cold medicine, even at one point  telling the crowd a story about how he wrote “Disarm” underneath the arch at 6 a.m. one morning, though of course that wasn’t true.
At the end of though show, though some were disillusioned by the Floyd cover song, it was clear that the Smashing Pumpkins seem to back on the right track.
With thundering new songs like “As Rome Burns”, mostly instrumental “Superchrist” and “G.L.O.W.”, as well as a astounding lineup that seems to be growing well together, here’s hoping the next CD will hopefully continue the good feelings everyone left with after the show.