RIP: The Hairhole 2008-2013

This weekend marks the final live shows at local DIY performance and rehearsal space the Hairhole. Last month word arose that the owner of the building had sold the space and that the building was set for demolition. While I’ve heard some debate on when the building will face the wrecking ball (one source said the middle of this month), I do have something to say about it.

While there was a show previous to its widely considered opening date, the first show I remember was an afternoon show in August 2008 with Times New Viking and local band Dirtmotor (featuring a very young Jamie Davis on guitar – now of Hott Lunch). While there had been some ups and downs in terms of shows, I was introduced to a number of local bands there ranging from HC punk (Gran Mal) to 80s influenced thrash metal (Battlement) to more experimental thngs (the 48 Hur Bandathon in November 2010). Also, there were a number of touring bands I first saw there from the hardcore meets noise of Minneapolis band Serenghetto, to the poppy punk of Big Fiction. While admittedly the space wasn’t perfect, over time it did feel like home to some degree.

Which leads to this weekend shows, which can be seen as both a sad and celebratory occasion. It’s sad in that a local space to see bands that might not get a chance anywhere else in Columbia will soon be gone. However, for a DIY space to last roughly four and a half years is a pretty damn good run. Lots of similar spaces both in Columbia and elsewhere has come and gone in less time than that. The No Cast lasted about a year (2006-2007). The legendary What’s This lasted three years (1986-1989). Lots of others came and went in a flash. With this in mind, the run of the Hairhole is something to be proud of.

Eventually another space or two may open on the DIY level for bands to play and rehearse. While I have heard rumors already, I’ll err on the side of caution and believe it when I learn of a show.

So, in roughly 48 hours, the Hairhole will be history and exist only in people’s memories. A wide range of emotions will emerge in the people involved, but inevitably I think, for all the pros and cons that such a place can have, those who helped keep things going should be proud of what got accomplished in a space like that, a shoestring budget, and some desire to see something happens.

As for what’s up ahead, that’s anybody’s guess.

COMUSIC REVIEW – Big Medicine, Mercer and Johnson @ Mojo’s

It’s January 12, 2013. Columbia is still in winter break mode – quieter in some ways but with a sense that the students will soon return and things will adjust to normal after the Holidays and the hangover of sorts that accompany them. As the second weekend of the year arrives the weather is suddenly getting colder and there’s talk of snow. There’s also several shows going on around town in spite of the sleet and snow that came in the early evening.

Burrows was supposed to play but got either snowed in or iced in after their show in KC the night before, making this an all local band show.

Mercer and Johnson navigating the bittersweet

 

Mercer and Johnson opened the night off with a mix of original songs and covers of some roots/country (real country) favorites. Beginning with just mandolin and bass, their songs of life, love, and longing had a bittersweet tinge to them. A switch to acoustic guitar a little over halfway through the set shifted the aural textures but the vibe remained. A mix of storytelling and longing permeated their set by this road tested local duo. Readers who are into more grittier roots music and country will definitely want to check this act out.

 

Eddie and Craig of Big Medicine

Big Medicine came on shortly after for their first show in over a year. Taking advantage of the vibe, they unleashed a set of roots rock full of driving beats and a vibe that’s almost equally rooted in honky-tonk country as in blues or early rock’n’roll. While the set was slightly sloppy (very understandable given the down time they had) there was a lot of energy here that got the crowd who braved the storm to make it here. Driving drums and blazing guitars were in full effect here until the end. Good to see Big Medicine playing again.

After the show, the crowd hung out, paid their tabs, and made small talk in an attempt to avoid the inevitable venture into the winter storm situation outside Mojo’s. As we ventured into the inevitable snow and what that entailed, many of us had wondered what would be ahead. In the next week students would return to town and life would slowly veer back to business as usual. For now, it was winter weather and hoping things weren’t too bad tomorrow.

COMUSIC REVIEW – BALD EAGLE, MEGAZILLA, JACK BUCK @ Mojo’s

Okay, so I know that 2012 is literally in it sfinal moments as I type this. Snow is falling and within 24 to 48 hours we begin the slow transition from holiday mode to business as usual (though the college winter break will make it linger on a little longer in Columbia). However, at a time when a chunk of the college kids are off with families and taking care of things elsewhere what could arguably be considered the best event of 2012 happened on December 29th when reunion fever of sorts took place at Mojo’s with the return of Bald Eagle (playing thier fourth reunion show) and Como band turned Austinites Megazilla (playing their first show since breaking up a little over four years ago).

Jack Buck

Jack Buck kicking the night off with a small explosion.

The opening slot was held by St. Louis band Jack Buck, who offered up a set of pummeling noise rock full of thick bottom end and sometimes dissonant guitars with humbucker tones that almost have to be scooped out of the speakers. The results lie somewhere between noise, punk and metal with a touch of the experimental thrown in for good measure. Some of the songs had a feel slightly similar to No Means No but the band is far from a copy of that. An interesting set that hinted at the aural carnage to come.

Megazilla

Corey of Megazilla driving home the noise.

 

After a few minutes to set up and making sure things were ready Megazilla returned to life playing the middle slot of this show. The duo took no prisoners with an intense set that merged noise rock aggression and fury with elements of almost prog like precision using just drums, the occasional sample, and an 8 string bass (tuned in fifths). Tight, heavy, harsh, and somehow melodic that band delivered some heavy music that drew on the energy of the night and made you like it. It was great to see Megazilla back (especially for those people who didn’t get to see them the first time around) and playing as if they never stopped.

 

Bald Eagle

Behold the ferocity of Bald Eagle in action.

A short time later Bald Eagle came up on stage to tear the place apart. Delivering a setof their patented post metal riff rock, the band’s dual guitar delivery blended precision and heft for a sound as heavy as it was intricate. Hard driving with an occasionl lush synth element at times, the band created an energy loop that fed off the crowd and returned the vibe with an intensity that had to be witnessed to be understood. In a truly just world Bald Eagle would be album rock mainstays (or at least regularly featured on their metal shows) but for now its the crowd on the ground who’s there to see what’s up. I don’t know if there will be more shows but that would be cool if there were.

As the last distorted power chord vibe faded into the ether and we ventured out into the cold we were drained a bit from the energy inside. However, it was time to head for parts unknown and see what was ahead. 2013 was around the corner but tonight was the good early way to send off the final moments of 2012. A great show and one that met all expectations.

COMUSIC REVIEW: Prima Donna, The Dollyrots, Alice’s Anvil @ The Blue Fugue.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: my apologies for the slight delay in getting these reviews up. The past month had been busy and I needed a couple days to rest and process all the information.

The weekend of September 21 and 22 was going to be busy in Columbia due to the Roots and Blues and BBQ Festival coming to town. As a result the city was preparing for what would be an onslaught of locals and visitors coming upon downtown for music and food. However, what was less known was that September 20th was going to be an interesting day in Columbia once I learned the The Blue Fugue was having Prima Donna and The Dollyrots play live.

Alice's Anvil

Taking an audio journey with Alice’s Anvil.

Local rockers Spectravox were supposed to open but had to drop out at the last minute leaving the slot open for Alice’s Anvil. This duo performs layered instrumental soundscapes built on layers of synthesizers and live guitars. Constructed of a blend of textures (delay plays a significant part in their material) and melody lines, their material got the night off to a quite different start in comparison to the other two bands. I have to agree with Kelly from the Dollyrots that Alice’a Anvil should be doing a multimedia performance with visuals added to their sets (hell, part of me sees this sounding like it could be the soundtrack for Japanese animation). Interesting but a surprise compared to the rest of the night.

Dollyrots

The Dollyrots: conquering Columbia one gooey hook at a time.

Co-headlining with Prima Donna, The Dollyrots were taking the middle slot of the evening. for their debut Columbia show. After a few minutes to set up the band quickly tore into a blend of punk energy and pure pop hooks that mined both brand new tracks (their new album was released two days before this show) as well as old fan favorites along their 45 minutes set. Despite a change of basses for Kelly after the first song, the band managed to pull off some energetic songs with hooks fresh out of the oven and make it look relatively easy in the process. All of this leading to a closer of “Because I’m Awesome” and the new album track “Staring Over Again” to end the night. They came and made the most of the night, having their sense of fun rub off on the crowd in the process.

Prima Donna

Rocking out with Prima Donna

Prima Donna began to close out the night with a big blast of energy and charisma. The LA quintet delivered some high energy uptempo rock’n’roll with a 70s glam edge and a lot of attitude. Catchy songs full of crunchy guitars and a sneering attitude is this band’s calling card as they blasted out some solid songs and caught the attention of the crowd. Having seen these guys open for Batusis in St. Louis a couple years back, they continued that vibe that sounds as much like it would fit the early 70s glam rock era as it does today. Prima Donna have been gaining a following step by step over the past few years and they appear to show no sign of slowing down as they set out on a mission to rock.

As the PA died down and people began to venture out into the Columbia night, people hung out with the band for a bit and took in the general vibe of the night. While the night was quiet, it would be the calm before the storm as Roots and Blues would soon make for a very busy weekend in this town.

COMUSIC REVIEW: Hooten Hallers 45 Release Party @ Off Broadway in St. Louis

Okay it’s the 14th of September and I found myself in the St. Louis area this weekend for work related reasons. While I know a couple of people and have relatives in the area I also wonder what else is going on as the days approach. In my research I come across  news that Columbia’s own the Hooten Hallers will be having a release party for their new 45 RPM record at Off Broadway in St. Louis. Needing something to do Friday night, I decide to head over there and see what things were like. Here’s a brief example of the artists who played and the atmosphere there.

 

Doormat and Littel Rachel starting off the night.

St. Louis; Doormat and Little Rachel played first. Their old timey blues with male/female vocals and an electrified dobro style guitar was a blend of both old blues and jazz as well as some originals. Intimate, even a little tinny (a metal bodied guitar will do that), the duo had a swing feel and made the most of their brief set to play something that seems a world away but will fit the tenor of the night better than some would expect.

Jack Grelle and the Johnson Family bringing the honky tonk to us.

 

After several missed opportunities I finally get to chance one time local Jack Grelle’s latest project – Jack Grelle and the Johnson Family playing live. Ranging from five to seven people, the band transforms Grelle’s old timey folk country songs into stone country tracks one would find on a jukebox at a honky tonk. Full of pedal steel guitar and tales of life, loss, and people you wish would get lost Grelle and company were largely acoustic, even mixing in a bit of Western Swing into the sound that’s rooted somewhere between Austin and Bakersfield as much as the Midwest. Those familiar with Grelle’s previous solo work will be pleased with this fleshing out of his sound.

Bugchaser taking the night somewhere completely different.

Bugchaser veered things into a complete different path. Their music was high energy space rock (for lack of a better term) built of dual drums and dual keyboards as much as spaced out or fuzzed our guitar. Driving and high energy their songs walk more of a punk or garage feel than the roots music of the earlier acts. Still, the chaos was less of a contrast than one would think.

The tension in the crowd grew as Hooten Hallers came on to play. As you may have guessed, their nasty, stripped down blues rock tore the house down. Delivered with an intensity that neared vintage punk at times, John and Andy fed off the crowd’s energy and gave it right back with some greasy guitars and primal drumming that hit the spot like an after bars late night diner breakfast. Tight, energy draining and aggressive, this turned out to be one of the best shows I’d ever seen by them, I was expecting a lot and I wasn’t disappointed.

Hooten Hallers taking the night over.

And with that it ended. As last call hit we ventured out into the autumn air and various plans (ranging from parties to sleep – depending on the person). Regardless, this was one of those events that I needed to witness.

COMUSIC – Local Bands Worth Checking Out

So, the summer is over in all but the actual autumn equinox sense. School is back in and people are adjusting to a long routine of studying, work, et al. However, life is about more than just the work we have to do to survive. With that in mind I would like to talk about some bands you may not have heard of. They’re mentioned here in no particular order other than the first bands or artists that came to mind. They’re also the ti of the iceberg in terms of local music in Columbia, So whether you’ve just moved here for school or other reasons or have been around for a while but really busy and haven’t paid attention to what has been going on here musically, here are a few local bands worth checking out.

BATTLEMENT

Battlement

 

I hadn’t heard this band until I saw them play live recently and became a believer. This young trio delivers vintage style thrash metal with tight, relatively complex songs and a hint of prog mixed in. What emerges are songs that draw upon the roots of thrash while adding enough of a twist to show the potential they have ahead of them. More intricate guitar leads than gimmicks or tuned down crunch, While Columbia has never beenexactly known as a hotspot for metal, Battlement is a band that may change that.

GRAN MAL

Gran Mal

Ben and Nate of Gran Mal

 

What if you’re in the mood for some vintage style punk? Well, check out Gran Mal. this trio tears down the aural gauntlet with straightahead punk and hardcore that goes for the throat with medium fast beats and raw to the point,power chord guitar work. These guys know their genre and deliver no frills and in your face with a mix of sonic roughness and visceral energy that you don’t hear a lot these days. Gran Mal is the latest link in the chain of hardcore punk reamining true to its roots while trying to mark their own niche within it.

NOISE ORDINANCE

Noise Ordinance

Noise Ordinance live – May 2012

 

This is a very young band (as in they’ve only played a literal handful of shows) but these kids lay down a blend of vintage punk with occasional ska and reggae overtone that shows a lot of potential.  Yeah, they wear their influences on their sometimes tattered sleeves but they draw from old HC as much as new punk and raw a rawness that some readers will find refreshing.

 

As I said earlier, this is far from a complete list of local bands to check out.  It’s the tip of the tip of the iceberg.  In addition, just because I recommend a band doesn’t mean you’ll agree with me.  Regardless of what you think of the bands I recommend here I do feel you should take some time and check out the local music scene here in Columbia.  Yes, it may take some effort but you may also find some artists that surprise you.

 

COMUSIC REVIEW- Trio Kablammo, Missouri Weather and the Wait 5 @ Artrageous Friday

As I type this we are suffering under the weight of one of the worst droughts in years (if not decades) Several weeks of nearly constant 100° plus days has created a stifling heat that has gotten people on edge and made people not want to go outside anywhere unless absolutely necessary. However, since cabin fever can drive people up the walls, sometimes you have to brave the heat and get away. For me it was after doing some errands Friday night and the realization that I needed to have a night out that led me to finally fulfill a promise and see a band I’ve been meaning to for a while but had been unable to in the past.

 

Missouri Weather and the Wait 5 laying it down

Missouri Weather and the Wait 5 laying it down

I arrived at the back of Artrageous gallery in downtown Columbia shortly after Artrageous Friday’s house band Missouri Weather and the Wait 5 started playing. This local quintet provided a sonic backdrop of classic sounding rock drawing from a mix of jazz and blues elements with a fair element of improvisation and some hints of heavy metal at points. Built around Anna’s vocals and acoustic guitar work, the songs have a lilting quality where lush organ and piano percolate to evoke vibes that are part jam band but one may also hear touchstones of classic rock ranging from Van Morrison and Atlanta Rhythm Section in their sound. This band is still fairly young but standing at a crossroads between class rock/jam band style roots and melding more modern sounds within it. This band is slowly building a following in the region and looks to be growing into a promising live act.

 

TK

Trio Kablammo taking things somewhere unexpected – as expected.

I didn’t know Trio Kablammo would be playing tonight until I found out just after Missouri Weather began playing, making this a welcome surprise. The band rose to the challenge to deliver a set of their trademark jam/country rock complete with their trademark skewed sense of humor. Filtering jazz chords and thumb picked lead guitar with a tight rhythm section, the trio came up with a set that was relatively breezy, slightly snarky, and a respite from the sweltering heat outside. While Trio Kablammo was unexpected, they added a feel to the event hat complimented the night.
Eventually, I went out into the night. Between Ana Popovic playing Summerfest on 9th St and a couple of club shows, this was a quasi-sleepy night in Columbia. However, sometimes when you seek things out on a hot somewhat sleepy night, what you might may surprise you.

COMUSIC REVIEW: CABIN SESSIONS – “Back to Compton”

Back to Compton Vol5 the fourth CdCabin Sessions have always been somewhat of an enigma within Columbia’s music scene. Where most artist begin playing live before recording, CS began as a one-off project with some local songwriters that was recorded just to hear how it sounded. From those first songs getting played to friends, the local collective emerged as a band in its own right with three CDs released and a number of live shows (limited due to family and other obligations). After a fourth session was shelved for a number of reasons, it appeared the future was in question, However, they eventually returned to Compton, AR (the site of the first session) and emerged with their fourth album.
Vol5: Back to Compton finds the group’s blend of country, folk, and indie pop harnessed in the vibe of each songwriter, starting with the introspective pop of “When the War (Within You Ends).” Along the way, the songs move the listener on a (mostly) acoustic journey through country (“The Grip,”), folk (“Slow Moving Cold Front”) and blues (“Tom Cat Blues”) and onwards with aural landscapes painted with blends of acoustic guitars and assorted percussion while peppered with slide guitar, banjo, and lush harmonies in many songs. All leading up to the loose feeling blend of country and folk “When It All Goes Wrong,” which closes out the disc. While the recording vibe is far from slick, the rough hued charm is what makes Cabin Sessions what it is on disc.
Back to Compton finds Cabin Sessions at an interesting point. While no longer a one time project, it began as, the band has created music that reveals a variety of moods while complimentary the individual songwriter. It will be interesting to see what they do in the future.

COMUSIC PREVIEW – May Live Music Preview (Part Two)

About a week ago I posted part one of a live music preview for what’s going on in Columbia in May. However, due to time issues on my end, I wasn’t able to get everything in that you readers might be curious about. While note a complete picture I felt it necessary to try and get a general idea. So, with that in mind, here are a few more shows coming up this month in Columbia.

The Bon Scott 5, The Many Colored Death @ Mojo’s (Saturday May 12th)

Okay, maybe you’re not into indie or folk but just want some metal or some classic rock to kick out the jams to. Maybe you’re in a classic rock frame of mind for a night. Either way, if you feel like that check out this appearance from local AC/DC tribute The Bon Scott 5. You know the music (especially if you grew up in Missouri), you know the songs. Curious about THe Many Colored Death. Have a feeling if you want some hard rock and metal, this could be an option.

We Live in Public, Truett and the Traitors, Mondo @ The Bridge (Friday May 18th)

This is recommended (in my opinion, anyway) mainly for Mondo, whose melodic punk/alt rock draws to mind such bands as The Replacements, the Ramones, et al. If you’re into a more jam band vibe, you will want to check out We LIve in Public.

New Tongues, Jack Buck, Mad Anthony @ Eastside Tavern (Saturday May 19th)

So it’s the 19th and you’re want something heavy and maybe a little dissonant. In that case head on over to Eastside for New Tongues, who will unleash another sonic attack along with St. Louis’ own Jack Buck Ithe band, not the late sportscaster – in case anyone was confused) and Mad Anthony from Cincinnati.

Mojo’s Happy Hour with Polly Finn @ Mojo’s (Happy Hour Fee Show on Friday May 25th)

As we all know Memorial Day weekend is pretty much considered the start of summer. So, if you wanna kick off the summer with some music check out this free show from local band Polly Finn. Still haven’t heard them yet but with members of the Goldbugs and the Harrows, this should be interesting

That pretty much covers the bases. While I don’t have everything going on, I hope to give you readers a good jumping off point for seeing some live music this month.

COMUSIC PREVIEW – May Live Music Preview (Part One)

COMUSIC PREVIEW – May Live Music Preview (Part One)

  AUTHOR’S NOTE: Due to time constraints (i.e.: me being way busier than I’d like) this will be a two part post.  My apologies in advance for this.

May is always a strange month for Columbia. Spring is in full effect with fairly warm days and relatively cool nights; providing a sign that summer is just around the corner. However, with three colleges in town, May is also the end of Spring Semester and the time when the student population dwindles by varying degrees due to finals week and other plans making the town a bit smaller in t e process.

But what if you’re not a student and just live in Como? What if you’re a student who’s staying over the summer either for summer school or due to a job? If you’re one of these people (or if you’re a student looking for something to check out before finals and/or your lease ends and you have to head on out of town), here are a few shows that you might be interested in this May.

9th Street Summerfest with Primus on 9th St – outside the Blue Note. (Thursday May 3rd)

While the summerfest shows have become a sign of nice weather and summer in Columbia, this kickoff is unexpected. Fans of peculiar song topics and massive funk meets jam band bass will likely fill 9th St for this show. I know most of you know about this show but I realized I had to put it here just to kick things off (and to avoid any comments if I forgot about it).

Mutilation Rites, Gran Mal, Creaturezoid, Gay Uncle @ Cafe Berlin (Thursday May 3rd)

So what’s going down on the 3rd if you’re not into Primus, can’t afford to see them, or just need a fix of something heavier.  This show should fill that void.  Mutilation Rites  will lay down some metal along with the HC of Gran Mal, local metallers Creaturezoid, and the grind/powerviolence of Gay Uncle.  This will be hard and intense at times but something the metal fans amongst you may be curious about.

No Coast Final Countdown Day One @ The Berlin Theater (Friday May 4th)

If you’re into rap/hip hop than this rap battle fest should be of interest.  With rappers from places ranging from St. Louis to Atlanta involved this will be something far removed from the cliche and a must see for the hip hop fan seeking out something different.

Portland Cello Project, Emily Wells @ Mojo’s (Wednesday May 9th)

I know what you’re thinking: cello music? Really? Hear me out. Portland Cello Project is taking the instrument into unexpected territory, playing music you wouldn’t normally hear on the instrument. A revolving crew of performers, over the years they’ve played with Peter Yarrow, Thao, and The Dandy Warhols and have a repertoire that ranges from Beethoven to Pantera and Kanye West (yes, you read that right). While I have little clue what they’ll do @ Mojo’s, I can safely say it will be interesting.

Hooten Hallers @ The Blue Note (Saturday May 12th)

This local duo has gotten a lot of media hype lately (even placing number two on Paste’s Ten Bands From Missouri You Should Know) and there’s a reason – they’re that good. Their raw stripped to the core bluesy rock has earned a fairly solid local following, The past year has found them busy touring so this homecoming of sorts is a chance to see them in the habitat they’re best suited for: the concert stage.

Cabin Sessions, Jowlz @ Mojo’s (Friday May 19th)

The local songwriters collective makes a rare live appearance @ Mojo’s the weekend before Memorial Day weekend.  With a sound that can go from folk and roots music to indie pop, this octet manages to put on an interesting show.  This may be our last chance to see Cabin Sessions for a while with band member busy with other projects so if you’re a fan of theirs (or just curious) check this show out if you’re able to do so.

That’s it for now.  Keep on the lookout for part two of this post shortly.  Hope you found something on this list you might want to check out.