So summer is over in all but the autumn equinox. School is in for the kiddos, the days are slowly getting shorter and the
nights are getting chillier. In the midst of the changing seasons is dealing with changing hours between my paying job and
the stress regarding the bill for a minor medical situation a few months earlier that still had yet to be resolved. With
that in mind I needed a break - and one that was affordable given the financial crisis that I could see myself staring down
the barrel of in short order. I heard about this bill and knew I couldn't make the whole thing due to financial issues.
However, it seemed that a handful of the bands I was really curious about would be playing on the first night. So, after
work and dinner, I headed out to south St. Louis city for this show over at Blank Space to kick off the start of Tu Fest (the
follow-up to the previous years’ Pu Fest).
First up to play was The Brainstems, who were preparing to kick off their latest tour with this show. The local quartet
blasted out some loud as hell garage rock with punk overtones. Their songs were fused by a mix of heavy and reverb drenched
guitars with a primitive but direct rhythm section to get the point across. Loud and sometimes dissonant, the band tore through
to the early crowd who ventured down to the basement for their set. While the band had been around for a bit I still was
unaware of their material. However, there is something here that draws the listener in. I will reserve judgment on The Brainstems
until I get a chance to see them again somewhere down the road. They have me curious but I wonder what lies ahead for them.
Then it was time to head on upstairs for Ghost Ice (who was doing a DJ set earlier) to perform a set of instrumental experimental
noise. Using a synthesizer, some samples, and tape loops, he created a one-person barrage of noise that can be as jarring
as it was expected. While it wasn't perfect (there were issues with a couple of the loops) he created a sonic atmosphere
that touched upon industrial music as much as noise. While his art can be a little polarizing (those expecting solely punk
or noise rock may not totally get it) the confrontational nature of his act does remain in keeping with the spirit of the
A few minutes later it was back downstairs and waiting for Veil to take the stage for the middle slot of the evening.
Once again, the foursome blasted out a blend of hard driving punk and spacey ethereal art rock that proves why they've become
one of the best bands St. Louis has at the moment. Throwing down their songs with passion and fury, they proved to be the
best set of the night as their tube toasted/reverb blended sound proved throughout. Veil has found a sound and feel that
stands away from the more clichéd punk and shows them to be a force to reckon with. The bands that will be on after them
have their work cut out for them. See this band if you get a chance to do so.
As Veil began to tear down their gear we headed back upstairs to see Hardbody perform their set. They took the night
in a different direction with a batch of instrumental noise rock with a definite math rock footing. Dueling guitar lines
built and fed upon each other in a dissonant tinged set that can be jarring, a bit obtuse, yet somehow moves things forward.
However, the band also had to go on after Veil and may have seemed slightly anemic in comparison. Regardless the trio had
their fans in the crowd and managed to make the best of the situation. Hardbody won't be everyone’s cup of sake
but there’s something here that keeps people interested.
Finally it became time for head back down into the basement and see Gymshorts bring the live music part of the night to
a close. Using "Copy Cat" to kick things off they wasted no time laying down some raw and heavy garage punk laced
liberally with elements of hardcore and noise. Add to this a stage delivery that goes for the throat (including several moments
of members jumping into the crowd while playing) and what was witnessed was not so much a show but a band whose performance
blew away all expectations and refused to let up. Gymshorts are one of those bands that cannot be contained in a live setting,
demanding a reaction as they tear the place apart. While an interview I conducted made me miss their set at Pu Fest last
year, this set more than satiated my curiosity. Consider me blown away by this band.
With the last chaotic chords and cymbal crashes the show came to a conclusion. While a dance party of sorts went on upstairs,
I waited to get an interview accomplished (see issue 138 for that - ed). Eventually things wound down and I ventured out
in the chilly air to head out to the sticks to crash. While I knew I would miss some things by my inability to catch any
other night (due to poverty and trying to get a minor medical issue financially sorted out) I was glad to be there this night
and get away from the stress and worries – even if only for a little while.