dFest | 07.25-26.08

dfest_sm.jpgAs testament to our city’s extraordinary talent, four St. Louis bands are scheduled to represent.






Tulsa, Oklahoma

It’s been called the best fest in the Midwest. With 130 bands and stellar industry panels over two nights and days, the destination that is Diversafest (dFest) is almost upon us. And, as testament to our city’s extraordinary talent, three St. Louis bands are scheduled to represent.

dfest_gah.jpgGentleman Auction House | It seems only appropriate that youth and maturation are two of the lyrical themes that thread their way through Eric Enger’s songs: His band, Gentleman Auction House, has spent the last year navigating the space where the two words intersect. Formed in the summer of 2005 (with its current lineup solidified in January of 2006), the band itself is still young, with the average age of its seven members hitting just below the quarter-century mark.

May 2008 welcomed The Book of Matches EP, which serves as the thematic and sonic precursor to the band’s new full-length.  Due out in August of 2008, Alphabet Graveyard is a record that documents the maturation of a band who has shed the weight of its comparisons and forged a direction all their own to a very new place where solemn folk ballads, epic mood pieces and infectiously danceable pop very naturally find themselves on common ground. Sat. 7/26, 8 p.m., Blank Slate (all ages)

dfest_feed.jpgThe Feed | This highly popular (and talented) STL three-piece offers rock ‘n’ roll sans guitar. Yep, you read that right: the only stringed instrument in this band is a bass-and even that isn’t played on every song. The Feed’s signature sound comes from singer Dave Grelle’s Fender Rhodes; bassist/saxophonist Ben Reece more than holds his own, and behind the kit Kevin Bowers is a whirlwind of talent. Charged with adrenaline, the band’s live show crackles with electricity.

Even guitarless, the sound is bigger than you’d expect from a threesome. The music’s engaging, feel-good rock ‘n’ roll, with Dave effusing personality and showmanship behind the keys. Yet instrumental prowess alone does not a band make, and it would be a grave injustice to overlook The Feed’s edgy, oftentimes gritty lyrics. The dichotomy of a refined, almost classical sound—Ben’s swirling sax betraying his classical and jazz background—combined with raw lyrics and situations is oh, so inviting. Fri. 7/25, 9 p.m., Exit BC (21+)

dfest_tth.jpgTell Tale Heart | You know that feeling of release and exhilaration and jubilation you get from shouting your beliefs and hopes and dreams from the top of a cliff into the sunset? The wind lifts your words and carries them, dispersing them, disseminating them so they can grow, thrive, be. That’s the feeling you get while listening to Tell Tale Heart. Their music lifts you, washes over you, enfolds and uplifts you. This is music to shout to the sky to; this is music that says what you’re feeling and makes it so.

The three players known as Tell Tale Heart—Joel Dodson (voice, guitar), Alex Hammond (bass) and Andrew Carter (drums)—each bring a disparate set of influences and musical preferences. Andrew’s into math rock (odd time signatures and drum beats, naturally), Joel singer-songwriters (Jeff Buckley’s Grace remains both inspiration and motivation) and Alex, oddly enough, a mix of pop-punk and classical jazz (hey, the guy studied music theory in college). These divergent backgrounds contribute to the uniqueness of the trio. Sat. 7/26, 8 p.m., 1974 (all ages)

Maxtone 4 | The cheerfully chugging guitar pop on the surface of Maxtone 4’s sophomore release, Hey Hey Do It Anyway, often masks seen-it-all, bittersweet lyrics—including sun-drenched but surprisingly wary missives on the original music scene, soul-sucking jobs, and friends that get old way too fast. The irony is that, two years later, the band has never sounded better or more confident. Much of that has to do with the reformation of the current lineup: singer/songwriter/guitarist Brian McClelland, bassist Chris Clark, lead guitarist Mike Hellebusch and drummer Jeremy Miller.

dfest_m4.jpgM4 has shared stages with Of Montreal, Sloan, Dressy Bessy, Aqueduct, Steven Burns, Jump! Little Children, The Orange Peels, and many others. They were nominated for Best Pop Band in local alt-weekly Riverfront Times.

Of course, these three St. Louis bands are but a drop in the pond at dFest. Big-name headliners—including The All-American Rejects, The Foots, The Disco Biscuits, Ghostland Observatory, Phantom Planet, Edison Glass, AM and The Apples in Stereo, among others—are joined by over 100 emerging artists for an unparalled music event. The 16 panel/workshop offerings mean this indie festival is unparalled when it comes to networking. Sat. 7/26, 9 p.m., 1974 (all ages)

At only a six-hour drive from St. Louis, what are you waiting for? Tickets good for both days are $30 in advance/$40 day of show, while an all-access badge—including admission to the conference portion of the event—is $100 in advance/$150 day of show. See you in Tulsa! | 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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