El Monstero | 12.23.09

live_elmonstero_sm.gifYes, the music is impeccably played and there are over-the-top props and costumes and enough candlepower to rival a U2 tour, but I think folks are just so proud of what they’ve all helped create.

The Pageant, St. Louis

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I’m not the world’s biggest Pink Floyd fan. There, I said it. Sure, I think Dark Side of the Moon is a masterpiece and I’ve seen The Wall at least twice and I get it (I think). But I loathe the psychedelic wankery of the band’s earliest work and regard much of the remainder of their catalog as quaint rock relics. So why would I subject myself to nearly three hours of Floyd played by an amalgam of St. Louis musicians?

For one thing, I had to see what the big deal was all about. El Monstero has built their annual show into an epic holiday tradition, expanding this year’s run to six nights—all of which sold out. People go crazy for this event and I honestly had no idea why. I’ve always thought tribute bands were a little creepy, too, even though I’m a working musician myself. I’ve spent many hours on St. Louis stages playing other people’s music for the enjoyment of the drunken masses, which kind of leads me to the second reason I wanted to check this thing out: Was it really that good?

live_elmonstero_250.gifShort answer: hell, yes. As I arrived in the photo pit in front of the stage, I was greeted with an array of motorized lights and air cannons that would be right at home on a Super Bowl halftime stage. These guys were definitely planning a big show. After the band marched through the crowd and singer Mark Thomas Quinn shouted through a bullhorn from the balcony, the stage curtain dropped, the band kicked into gear, and a wall of lights and pyrotechnics erupted. I was literally blind for the first 30 seconds of the show.

No matter. I was instantly enraptured. The band was thundering through "In the Flesh" while Quinn preached his lyrical gospel from a pulpit festooned with floodlights high above the stage. As he descended, my eyes adjusted and I heard the first rumblings of "Brick in the Wall." From here on out, all the stops were pulled out as guitarists Jimmy Griffin and Bryan Greene effortlessly played off each other to great effect. We’ve all heard aspiring rockers hack their way through Floyd tunes like "Wish You Were Here," but these two have the goods, as does the rest of the band.

In addition to the flawlessly played Floyd tunes, an ever-changing light show illuminated a constantly rotating cast of characters. This included everything from a school headmaster during "Brick" to pole dancers during "Young Lust." A bevy of guest musicians also added to the show, with sax player Dave Farver soloing on tabletops in the crowd and vocalist Eric Lysaght killing it on "Have a Cigar."

After the smoke from all the pyro (and requisite pot; this is a Floyd show after all…sort of) dissipated and the crowd with it, I started to realize what makes this event such a draw each year. Yes, the music is impeccably played and there are over-the-top props and costumes and9 enough candlepower to rival a U2 tour, but I think folks are just so proud of what they’ve all helped create.

You see, El Monstero is a St. Louis event. The band consists of some of St. Louis’s most talented rockers, the show is run entirely by St. Louis lighting and sound companies and it takes place at St. Louis’s finest concert venue. It’s plainly evident that everyone involved pours everything they have into the entire production. I finally get it. It’s something to be proud of for sure, and I’m definitely looking forward to next year. | Corey Woodruff

 

Photos by Corey Woodruff

 

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