Friday, September 29, 2006

Simply titled: My First Concert Review

Wednesday night was one of the most entertaining nights I've had all year. I drove down to St. Louis' Creepy Crawl to see V.A.S.T. (that's Video Audio Sensory Theater for those keeping score at home), fronted by Jon Crosby. His best known work occured back in 2000-01, when his single Touched made its way onto The Beach soundtrack. So while standing in line I meet a few decent people, as well as the storytelling people. The guy standing next to me claims he met Trent Reznor's mom at an art exhibit in Alton, IL (semi-suburban St. Louis). He then goes on tell those standing in line that Trent was the first member of his family to not follow tradition and work for the "family business", Reznor Heaters. According to this Wiki article, the business left Reznor ownership in the 60's, while Trent was born in 1965. He couldn't have taken a job with the company if he wanted to! I hear other various rambling stories that are eerily similar. Let's fast forward to the getting into the show.

The Creepy Crawl isn't that bad of a venue. Kinda Creepy, and a first-time visitor like myself felt like something could Crawl up my leg anytime. I introduce myself to a couple of strangers, Jeremy and LaBonna (sp?). We chat for awhile before the first band comes up. Get ready for Murder Happens. Sounds scary, but I remember Rick Dees saying that Savage Garden was more garden than savage. At least the name of the band fits well with the name of the venue. Taking a deep breath here.... Murder Happens is fronted by a petite little girl in a pushup bra and neon pink hair. Her whining is worse than any crap you've heard from Kittie, or your average garage-death metal band from South Dakota. Three or four songs into the set I notice a guy up on stage that is not only playing guitar, but it looks like he's screaming into the mic.... screaming in the Slayer kind of way. His screaming is apparently supposed to complement her whimpers of hating her parents, school, and life. Turns out nobody realized he was part of the vocals because his mic wasn't turned on. At all. When they're finished I refuse to acknowledge their presence because they suck that bad. I order another Miller High Life and hope the next band may provide a little more entertainment than whatever that was onstage just a few minutes ago.

Mardo. Retardo. Keyboardist is a white kid with a Ben Wallace kind of 'fro. Wolfmotherish. Lead singer looks like Jim Morrison on a three-year meth frenzy, buggy eyes and all. I hear a drummer, but can't see him because he's either a midget playing a midget drumkit or he's actually lower than his bandmates. I settle on the latter. Their sound isn't too bad; it's a decent blend of Jet and Silvertide... good toe-tapping rock n roll. After a few songs the lead singer brags how he's cool and hip because he's from Bakersfield, CA. His arrogance is giving me the impression that if everyone in Bakersfield is like him, that town is full of dickheads. Couple more songs go by and he sees a tall kid standing in front of me and decides to call him out. Something along the lines of "What the F are you Fing looking at?" I like to call ths personality trait the "big-guy complex" The Big-guy complex is when a small puny guy with a chip on his shoulder makes an attempt to be the alpha-male and call out an innocent bystander who is at least 12 inches taller and 60 pounds heavier. So the big guy escalates it and tells him to shut up and play a freakin song. Namecalling ensues and I easily figure out the lead singer does this at every show. It's his way of saying "Hey. I'm obnoxious." They finish up and I am happy to know I'll never see that piece of crap on lead vocals again.

V.A.S.T. is coming soon, and I await their entrance anxiously. A few lights are turned off which means the band is ready. When the band comes up a rather heavy-set guy in a black cowboy-mountie hat, Trenchcoat Mafia-style coat, and a rough, unshaven lumberjack look that just doesn't look like Jon Crosby, who I remember having a groomed, stocky build like a Marky Mark type. The band starts playing, the voice is distinct, and it's official: Jon Crosby has gained about 100 lbs and hasn't shaved in a month. Whatever his physical appearance tells us, it doesn't take away from his roaring voice as he flies through Turqouise, Thrown Away, Free, Touched, Pretty When You Cry, and a few others. Throughout the show the little girl from Murder Happens is squeezing from the back of the crowd to the front, and then to the back again. Back and forth all night. Many times I had to resist the urge to kick her in the back of the head Chuck Norris style and mop the floor with her strawberry Kool-Aid hair. Regardless, the band is solid all the way through, and the guitar work doesn't stray too far from the sound of the album.

Somewhere between Mardo and V.A.S.T. a couple comes up and invites Jeremy, LaBonna, and me to the afterparty. The way I look at it, what the heck, I don't have to be home anytime soon, and I wasn't planning on going straight home anyway. As soon as Jon is done playing all of us meet outside in front of the CC. I follow the carful of new friends to a very nice 7th floor studio apartment with a good look of the downtown sector of St. Louis. Hellos, names, handshakes, and jokes are exchanged as we get settled in for a few cocktails. I think the guy hosting the party is named Ben. Anyway, about 45 minutes go by and the band shows up, along with about a dozen other groupie-looking folks who are just along for the free booze. Jon goes straight for the vodka and brews up kamikazes. That's Big Jon on the right.
I let all the other folks harass and smother Jon with autographs, photos, and toasts while I chat it up with Michael, a black guy with a faint British accent who played bass for Jon. We share a few jokes like everyone else and mingle with some other folks. I eye Jon across the room smoking and checking out the skyline. I greet him, thank him for coming to StL and end up talking with him for well over 25 minutes. I check my watch and decide I've been here long enough. It's time to go home. Jon is a talkative guy who seems to show a genuine interest in the people he plays for. We talked mostly about life in the Midwest and how much slower it is compared to the hectic times in California.

My favorite freak of the night goes to the kid in his early twenties, shards of metal stuck in various places on his head, fighting 50-60% baldness with a poor attempt at a combover, head to toe in black except for some weird looking pantyhose looking sleeves that have a "cool" spiderweb design that centers around his elbows. Second is the girl wearing some hooded gown who I instantly envision looking like Dwight from The Office in his Sith Lord Halloween costume. And yes, she kept the hood over her head the entire night. I'm far from perfect. I've had my fashion phases while growing up too but it cracks me up to see folks make a career out of this goth look.

After all of this I must say I recommend seeing them if you get the chance. Show up late to avoid the opening "acts", and ignore the weirdos. You will stink of stale cigarettes and your shoes will stick to whatever you're walking on so shower before naptime.

And here's a video of the Worst Dancer contest, judged by Michael at the afterparty. I really hate the word afterparty. I feel like I should be talking about Nelly or Black Eyed Peas.

Now it's time for the goodies. This song is for the goth crowd. "Hand me my nose ring! Show me the mosh pit!" Ben Folds - Underground

V.A.S.T. music can be bought here.

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