photo: Todd Owyoung, ishootshows.com
April 1 | Seepeoples, Cicero’s, St. Louis
Fans of any of Perry Farrell’s musical projects should definitely check this very talented North Carolina band out — their material ranges from hauntingly beautiful ballads to mind-melting electronic freak-outs. I haven’t missed a St. Louis show of theirs since the first time I saw them in ’04, and this particular show stood out as one the very best of them all.
April 20 | Black Angels, Blueberry Hill’s Duck Room, St. Louis
After hearing and reading so much praise about this ’70s psychedelia-influenced band, I had to see and hear for myself if they truly deserved all the hype. They do. And I doubt anyone in the audience that night would disagree with that. Both Morrison and Hendrix would probably be fans of these guys, if they were still alive.
April 21 | Son Volt, The Pageant, St. Louis
If you haven’t seen Son Volt in at least a year, make sure you check them again next time they tour. With the help of a slightly revised personnel lineup, Jay Farrar has recently infused his 12-year-old band with a much darker, edgier, and more raw sound that needs to be experienced live to be truly appreciated. Their surprising cover of the early Stones’ masterpiece "20,000 Light Years From Home" gets my vote for best encore song of the year.
May 20 | Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Pageant
A nearly flawless set by what are probably the reigning masters of the modern dark psych-rock genre. This was one of those shows where the intensity of the music was often so strong, it felt somewhat overwhelming (in a good way), especially during the scorchingly hot version of "Love Burns," after which I practically needed a cold shower and a mild sedative.
July 16 | VHS or Beta, Blueberry Hill’s Duck Room, St. Louis
Although this show would have been more appropriate in a venue with a larger dancing area and more sophisticated lighting, these Kentucky boys made it work anyway. From start to finish, they provided more than adequate energy and catchy, beat-driven ’80s-influenced sounds that kept the room’s bodies in motion.
August 1 | Calla, The Pageant, St. Louis
I was probably one of the few people in the audience who was more interested in seeing this opening set than the headliner, Interpol. I do like Interpol, and their set was commendable (my biggest complaint about their material is that it lacks diversity), but Calla’s blend of thick, fuzzy, slightly distorted guitars with mesmerizing melodies completely won me over, although clearer-sounding vocals would have made their set even more captivating.
October 6 | The Smithereens, Argosy Casino, Alton, Ill.
Well worth the hour roundtrip drive from the city, this small theater-seating venue inside a Casino boat is an excellent concert space. And even though the Smithereens are probably considered by most to be past their prime, you wouldn’t have thought that after experiencing this show, which proved that great songwriting backed by tight performing can keep even a 25-year-old band sounding fresh and vital.
October 16 | Widespread Panic, The Fox Theatre, St. Louis
Although jam bands are nearly a dime a dozen these days, these Georgia veterans were one of the very first on the scene back in the late ’80s, long before the term jam band had even been coined. Their many years of experience playing together (with only one personnel change ever) have made their shows, which are two 90-minute sets with no opener, just about as close to a joyous religious experience as a concert can get.
November 18 | Neil Young, The Fox Theatre, St. Louis
Truly one of the greatest songwriters in rock, Neil Young is still, even in his early 60s, quite a force to be reckoned with. This performance had the audience silently spellbound during the acoustic first half, and on their feet rocking during the second half’s classics "Cinnamon Girl" and "Cortez the Killer." Without the seemingly unnecessary no-drinks-allowed-in-the-seats rule 0in effect during this show (as well as the last time Young played the Fox), along with the higher-than-they-needed-to-be ticket prices, this show would have been even more enjoyable. But those factors were worth dealing with, to experience a legendary musical genius doing exactly what he does best.
November 29 | The Cult, The Pageant, St. Louis
Even though he could probably ease up a bit on trying to emulate Bono on stage, Ian Astbury is still one of the sexiest frontmen in rock, and fortunately, the years have been quite kind to not only his looks, but also his vocal chords. This show just flat-out kicked ass, and the stellarness of killer hits like "She Sells Sanctuary" and "Fire Woman" almost made me able to ignore the annoying flying arms of the very drunk woman directly in front of me. | Michele Ulsohn