Elements Of journal | 01

I was very pleased to see the crowd growing at a late hour, even though some musicians started loading out and leaving, in my opinion an egocentric slap at the other people and a damn shame. Happens all the time, hard to stop.


Thurs., Dec. 14: Ghost of Monkshood (Oklahoma City), Warm Morning, Tape Deck Sonata, Seth Jarman, Elements Of

Elements Of (the band) currently has no functional kick drum or bass amp, and borrowed hand percussion. (If you play spontaneous jazz-rock, the chick singer has to play percussion…it's in the rulebook.) Cat borrowed her boyfriend's car and picked me up about 90 minutes late. Austin (guitarist) would be dropping by.

Fifteen minutes later and there were a couple large beautiful hand-drums (which belong to a friend of mine) left as we dashed out, so I left a note:


When I arrived, everyone was drowsy and limping around. Bands bitch up, down, and sideways about playing late on weekdays, so we scheduled this thing for 8 p.m., and nobody seemed happy. After some ranting (my ranting gets raves) and a short but serious struggle, we got the host band (Warm Morning, from Greenville) set up to play, and a crowd started moseying in. I jumped on the mic and welcomed everyone to Elements Of (the show). Morning played a curious early set of Nintendo music, instrumentals, and Gnarls Barkley.

Elements Of (the band) took the upstairs stage at about 9:45. We had a pretty good groove on "Chubb Sub" which is a Medeski. Martin & Wood instrumental. As far as I can tell, the song details a snake stalking a rabbit. Cat sang really well during the set and various Ethiopians left over from the dinner crowd seemed to take to her.

Ghost of Monkshood was so late that we came within 10 minutes of having to cut them. But they were able to set up and play finally. Really, really cool stuff. Set began starkly with a dark and swirling ambient keyboard sound. The guitars ramped up and moved into some really emotional and dramatic tunes with good vocals. Reminded me of early Flaming Lips a few times.

Brain Regiment (breaking up soon, I'm told) were next downstairs, followed by Tape Deck Sonata. I was very pleased to see the crowd growing at a late hour, even though some musicians started loading out and leaving, in my opinion an egocentric slap at the other people and a damn shame. Happens all the time, hard to stop.

This has been said "once or twice" but a good tight indie-pop band is irresistible, and Tape Deck Sonata fits the description perfectly. Don Dreste is a very tasteful drummer (hard to find 'em in these parts) and a first-rate character, always great to do shows with. They finished with "Under the Broken Lights," an indelible, simple, and catchy tune that always rocks the barn.

Upstairs, Seth Jarman played in between our sets. We were quite happy to have him back. (See my glowing review from August 3). The upstairs stage setting is intimate and direct. Between songs you can hear any voice in the showroom, and shows take on an offhand, conversational tone. Seth addressed us: "Would you guys like to hear Neutral Milk Hotel?" Mathue from Warm Morning was standing there in his full hipster gear, and it's well-known that no skinny post-pop musician in a dress jacket can resist Jeff Mangum. We both shouted.

Seth: "If I fuck this up, you all have Kurt to thank." He essayed "Two Headed Boy Part 1" to rousing cheers.

It was nearing time to wrap. Elements Of (band) played a strange and uneven closing set that had some good moments, a chaotic version of "Black Triangle Apparition" and a really good groove on "Politician," the most sinister of all Jack Bruce inventions.

During a stage break, Ghost of Monkshood wanted to leave early and wanted payment early. This amounted to preferential treatment so I had to say no. Some band members were more understanding than others, but they finally agreed to stick around after some very tense and unhappy moments. The time honored tradition of distrust between band & agent is always sad. And my own band was waiting for me onstage during all of this, but Cat took over the drumset for some spontaneous music (not quite in the rulebook, but quite cool).

Everyone went downstairs to listen to Warm Morning's closing 45 minutes, playing new songs from their EP, The Rage of Kelly McGinnis. These cats are probably the best of all bands to come out of Greenville in the last three years, which is saying a lot. They bridge a gap from indie-pop and swinging retro tunes to ambient music and atonal guitars. They are fascinating and danceable, and Mathue is a fine singer with a soft and potent delivery.

Warm Morning plays again on New Year's Eve and you should come listen to them, dear, even though we are in the city and I know you dislike driving up. I share many of your feelings about STL/U-City but hopefully during these shows, we stop being St. Louisans and begin being people. I for one am having a royal blast. | Kurt Boyer

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