Sexy Bass | King Thief & RadioRadio

prof_sexybass_sm.jpg"St. Louis is our Manchester, and you, PLAYBACK:stl, you are our Tony Wilson."




PLAYBACK:stl & Mutiny Productions present Sexy Bass Night
featuring King Thief, Northside’s Sweet Revenge, RadioRadio & John Boy’s Courage
Blueberry Hill’s Duck Room
Sat., Feb. 23, 8 p.m. | $10, 21+

We here at PLAYBACK:stl consider it our mission to scour our world and bring you the best new music, independent, unsigned, imported, or otherwise. We’ve been writing about our passions for nearly six years now, and putting together shows and events for almost as long. Last September, we were proud to bring you a longstanding dream of ours, the PLAY:stl Music Festival & Conference.

Four of the 90 bands that played the fest will be coming together for a very special show at Blueberry Hill’s Duck Room on Saturday, February 23. We’re calling it Sexy Bass Night, simply because we find bass very, very sexy; it makes us move, as do these four acts. King Thief and RadioRadio in particular really help us get our groove on, so we thought we’d tell you a little bit more—in our words and theirs—about why you really need to be in attendance.


If you’ve been to a local show in the past couple years, you’ve undoubtedly seen King Thief. They used to be called Ultra Blue, before they signed with Shock City Records and released The Inferno to the world. Oh sure, they’ve changed a bit—matured, if you will. "Our music has gotten more dramatic and theatrical," says ruby-throated, mohawked frontman Brooks Bracken. "It is definitely darker now, too."

Case in point: The Inferno, 11 songs of darkness and despair, the state of today’s world as reflected through the mind and lyrical skills of Bracken. "Every song on the album is about a person’s life that starts somewhere and ends in a much darker place," he says. "Everything falls apart in every story. I also like to tie morbid historical events with the way I feel about certain parts of the world today. So there is a lot of that on the record, too, such as the Salem Witch Trials (‘New England Hellcat’) and the trial and execution of Mary Queen of Scots (‘The Queen’)." (This writer recommends keeping all sharp and otherwise dangerous objects out of reach while listening to the deliciously addictive King Thief debut.)

Whereas the songs of Tulsa’s RadioRadio also deal with conflict and confrontation, the good guys generally prevail. In 2006, the band released its first CD, a sexy, groove-filled Watch ‘Em All Come Runnin’. In 2007, three of the band’s five members departed within weeks of each other, all for various reasons. This left vocalist Greg Hosterman and his writing partner, bassist Paul Cristiano, with the decision of rebuilding or moving on. Following some turbulence (hey, nothing worth its weight ever came easy, right?), RadioRadio reemerged last fall as a quartet: super tight, super slick, and fueled with fresh energy and determination.

"There has been a solid, consistent feeling of creative rightness with this lineup and the material it produces," says Hosterman. "We used the rise and fall and rise again of this project as a springboard for ideas. Bands are like mini lifecycles, and you can pull a lot from the relationships you experience within them. To me, the struggle of the rock band is a perfect metaphor for every other life struggle. It is something we know intimately and they always say, write what you know."


Since reforming, RadioRadio have been hard at work on new material. Thematically, Hosterman reveals, "You could say we are in to our old bag of tricks; ‘Marathon’ and ‘Watch ‘Em All Come Runnin” [from the first album] explored our plight as unknown sometimes unappreciated troubadours. I think the starting point changes a little with the new material (which I’m sure is refreshing for the band), but it’s really just all love and war."

As for what to expect from the Duck Room show, King Thief fans can rejoice in the high-energy show they’ve come to expect, along with some new music to keep things fresh. "The band’s favorite song to play live right now is a brand new one called ‘Mr. Grim,’" says Bracken. "It’s dark, moody, and very intense." Plus, hometown shows always come with hometown fans, a definite plus. "St. Louis fans are seriously the best. Our shows here have this incredible energy."

Hosterman also builds on the energy. "The actual recording of all that music writing requires a Herculean effort of scheduling and funding to be realized. We are in the throes of that process now; it generates a lot of positive energy in the band. That energy spills over and should be evident in the upcoming live performances."

Being a part of the St. Louis scene, as any musician will tell you, has its ups and downs. We’re not a major hub for labels, promotion or industry; as such, it’s often perceived as being harder to gain attention, to stand above the crowd. King Thief, however, sees the merits of our scene; says Bracken, "St. Louis is filled with a lot of great musicians. Real players. I think the originality aspect is only getting bigger and better."

In just two visits to our town, RadioRadio’s Cristiano is thus far impressed. "In your neck of the woods, you have bands like King Thief, Go Van Gogh, Northside’s Sweet Revenge, Lapush—they’re all very good, and they’re rock, for God’s sake. Real rock ‘n’ roll! I’m not even from St. Louis and that’s just off the top of my head, so that tells you something."

A fellow outsider looking in, Hosterman sees a mystique we locals all too often overlook. "We feel legitimized when we come to St Louis," he says. "Paul has directed everyone in the band to 24 Hour Party People as required viewing. It’s a film about Manchester and the music scene there during Tony Wilson’s reign as purveyor of all things hip and cool. I think all young bands are looking for that place where they can be received as they should be. St. Louis is our Manchester, and you, PLAYBACK:stl, you are our Tony Wilson." | Laura Hamlett

About Laura Hamlett 467 Articles
Laura Hamlett is the Managing Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. In a past life, she was also a music publicist and band manager. Besides music, books, and other forms of popular culture, she's a fan of the psychology behind true crime and violent criminals. Ask her about mass murder...if you dare.

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