An Under Cover Weekend Returns

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AUCW returns to St. Louis for 2017 with a renewed sense of purpose. Not only will it be taking over a new venue, Delmar Hall, but it will also feature a more diverse set of bookings than the local festival has ever featured before.

The first night of the festival will feature the best of the 80s, with Janet Jackson, Stevie Nicks, Madonna, Dolly Parton w/ Kenny Rodgers and Chaka Khan taking to the stage in the form of some of St. Louis most intriguing acts. Paige Alyssa promises to shine as Janet Jackson. Alyssa leans towards newer acts like Thundercat and Flying Lotus in her vibed out 80s sounds on “Beautiful” and “Lost Your Love”.

Night two rings in the 90s with Outkast, Third Eye Blind, Lauryn Hill, Counting Crows and the Offspring. Ramona Deflowered should prove interesting as the Offspring, and the band isn’t a stranger to AUCW as they return from a past performance as Joan Jett. Blank Generation should SHINE as Outkast if their Door No. 1 EP is any indication.

The 00s feel good on night three with Gorillaz (Blank Generation could make a killer Del the Funky Homosapien, just saying), Justin Timberlake, Erykah Badu, Amy Winehouse and Death Cab for Cutie. I am in love with Aida Ade as Badu and 20708344_400360467027785_5125459013846865304_nshe will definitely be a crowd favorite after her set. Her Soundwheel EP should definitely be on your shortlist for best releases by St. Louis artists in 2017.

There is a decent chance that the weekend will sell-out, so pick up your weekend tickets now on Ticketmaster. A three-day pass can be purchased for only $30.00  or you can pick which night you’d like to attend for just $12.00 a night.

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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

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

Coldplay | 07.21.16

From now on, it may be referred to as The Sauna at Scottrade Center. The amount of sweat filtering through the mostly filled arena could have very well formed a palpable river, if not for the confetti soaking it up. Coldplay returned to St. Louis filled with optimism, fan worship, and enough confetti and hormones flying through the air to write an entire Young Adult book series.

coldplay_confettiRecent divorcee Chris Martin and the band have gone through enough changes in their time to draw in the 45-year-old who came to hear “Yellow” or “The Scientist,” along with the middle-aged female who requested A Rush of Blood to the Head’s “Green Eyes.” They also draw in fans of Beyoncé, who saw the two together at the Super Bowl, or heard her small addition to new song “Hymn for the Weekend.”

The show was a never-ending list of highlights of Martin being beyond charming. The first piece of the show ended with a remixed version of “Paradise”—originally done by Tiësto—that featured an intense amount of lasers on top of an arena’s worth of flashing bracelets. The second part of the set was highlighted by a climax of “Fix You,” leading into an accurate reproduction of David Bowie’s “Heroes,” dedicated to Bowie as well as Prince. “Viva La Vida” served as the loudest singalong of the night, with Martin remarking, “This is what they sound like in St. Louis.”

After a brief break, the band returned to stage that couldn’t have been bigger than 8′ x 8′ at the back of the arena. Martin introduced the band, and then himself as “the former Mr. Gwyneth Paltrow.” Before the band returned to the main stage, Martin delivered “Green Eyes,” a request from Instagram videos fans posted of their favorites, as well as the slinky “God Put a Smile Upon Your Face.” As he sang, Martin took the long way around the floor of the arena, greeting all he could.

coldplay-250The band wrapped things up with three newer songs—which felt a bit odd, but who can argue with “A Sky Full of Stars” while literal star confetti rains down from the sky? Newest single “Up & Up” ended proceedings with its ever-positive insistence that “when you think you’ve had enough, don’t ever give up.”

Coldplay is a band that brings together multiple generations, consistently finds new ways to bring the crowd closer in spite of the size of the venue, and spares no expense on its show. Martin may see himself as Entertainment Weekly fodder at this point, but the band’s fans remain as loyal and willing to dish out large amounts of money to hear their own “Green Eyes” as the fan who traveled hundreds of miles wished for.

Alessia Cara and Foxes opened the show with a similar sound, while being distinct in their personalities. Foxes lead singer Louisa Rose Allen has the current claim to fame as vocalist for Zedd’s hit song “Clarity.” Allen was mostly quiet, seemingly taking in every face in the crowd while dancing around the stage. Cara, on the other hand, spoke often and rocked the stage with a large presence, despite her young age. Cara signed last year with Def Jam Recordings at the age of 18, and has already produced a radio hit in “Here.” | Bruce Matlock

AFI turns up the love, down the dispair in St. Louis (11/4)

Almost as if to tell their Hot Topic loving fanbase to suck it, Davey Havok, the lead singer of AFI, has faded away from the makeup and turned up the screams. On a cool Wednesday night in St. Louis, MO, the band showed up looking more like the early to mid-thirties rockers they are, and much less like the mostly younger crowd they drew in.

The band’s vociferous fanbase, however, was not to be deterred, as they sang along with every word and bounced to many of the band’s songs (both new and old). Though older tracks “6 to 8″ and “Ny-Quil” had the crowd in its greatest frenzy, new songs off Crash Love, the band’s recently released LP, brought a good amount of dancing to the stage and crowd (despite being much weaker sounding tracks in the bands deep catalog). The four-piece’s songs have begun to sound less like dark dreary sorrow and more like the kind of love you’re not supposed to make music about.

Unfortunately, while these newer tracks were certainly fun, they just didn’t pack the immense bass lines of Hunter Burgan or the scorching guitar parts of Jade Puget. Drummer Adam Carson seemed almost pushed to the sidelines in exchange for computerized beats and pop break downs.

Early in the set, tracks off of Sing the Sorrow, the band’s platinum breakout, got everyone in the spirit with a rendition of “Girl’s Not Grey” and hardcore dancer anthem “The Leaving Song, Pt. 2″. Havok emerged looking more like a younger Perry Farrell and less like one of the girls from The Craft (as he has in the past). Overall, however, the crowd’s heavy momentum would push the band through the fairly short set (coming in at just over an hour long).

But, in the end, the real showcase of the night turned out to be openers, Gallows. It was quite a shock to walk into the mostly filled 2,000 person capacity Pageant, and see a band playing with no lead singer in sight (though one could obviously hear someone talking as well as singing). With a little bit of investigation, however, it could be discovered that the lead singer, Englishman Frank Carter, was directly in the middle of a frantic circle pit that encompassed most of the floor.

The band ran through songs featured on 2009’s Grey Britain, and did a suitable job filling the heavy slot AFI normally carries on the bill. The Brit punks sang songs for “the druggies, rehabbing druggies, and straight edge kids,” stating that it didn’t matter except that they were all enjoying themselves in the moment of the night. Carter also spent a fair amount of time promoting himself as a casanova, handing a broken microphone off to a woman he had chosen out of the crowd, as well as helping a specific gentleman by promoting anal sex.

All in all, the show provided many entertaining moments. If you get the chance, check out Gallows and leave the sorrow of old AFI to the albums themselves.

Setlist:
Torch Song
Girl’s Not Grey
The Leaving Song, Pt. 2
Too Shy to Scream
Ever and a Day
Kill Caustic
End Transmission
Ny-Quil
Beautiful Thieves
Dancing Through Sunday
Cold Hands
The Leaving Song
On the Arrow
Death of Seasonz
Medicate
Love Like Winter

Encore:
6 to 8
Miss Murder
Silver and Cold