I know this is a little unusual for a blog about Columbia to review a concert in St. Louis. After all, a local blog should focus on what’s happening locally. However, this show should be an interesting exception for several reasons as a Jerusalem and the Starbaskets show is somewhat rare for this local band. In addition, CAVE is one of the most known bands of that Chicago phenomenon known as the Columbia diaspora (a moment of several formerly local bands and musicians who’ve moved to Chicago and managed to make some sort of notice for themselves). So, with these two bands together (and as a possible hint of what next month might be like), it seemed fitting to post this review of their show from the upstairs gallery at 2720 Cherokee that happened last Friday night.
St Louis band Catholic Guilt’s opening set seemed more a compliment to the dubstep being played in the club downstairs than the other bands on the bill. The quartet didn’t play songs as much as perform a 20 or so minute aural journey using synthesizers, some effects pedals, and drums to create a sonic atmosphere that hinted at darkness but may have more underneath than expected. Rooted firmly in noise music, their sound was trippy at times and even a bit shamanic. However, it also ran the risk of sounding slightly monotonous after a while as it appeared to be merely one song rather than several tracks that fit together (though they may actually have been their plan). Catholic Guilt is a little ominous but has something that can be good in small doses. I’m still surprised they unplugged and left the stage so soon.
After a period of milling about and people setting up, Jerusalem and the Starbaskets took their turn on the stage. A trio at this performance, they wasted not time and immediately delivered a batch of driving, sometimes abrasive, yet melodic blend of folk, country and indie rock that could go from markedly gentle to wall of noise at the drop of a pin. With only guitars and drums at their disposal, they made use of as much frequencies as they could and forged a sonic painting that reveals songs with a surprising range arising amidst what some could call chaos. This band has long been a bridge of sorts between noise rock, folk, and even country rock and tonight they continue that sonic journey. Given that Kim’s work on producing films and Jeremy’s recent move to Memphis means we don’t see them play all that often, a Jerusalem and the Starbaskets show still highlights some of the best that this town has to offer.
As one band tore down and another band began to set up on stage, the crowd was about to get a surprise as the members of Cave began to set up also. Yes, the band actually played on the floor. The quartet has evolved in the past roughly six years from noise rock towards a sound the blends psychedelic drone rock with a small amount of Krautrock in the mix. Mostly instrumental songs that seemed to build on a central theme is what Cave do and, while it may seem otherwise, the band somehow manages to make it rock in process. While drone music veers dangerous towards jam bands, there is a discipline and repetition here that separates Cave from pure improvisation that can sometimes falter in the jam band scene. The crowd, meanwhile, seemed lost in dancing to the band. Been a while since I’d seen Cave and am always surprised by how they evolve and grow each time.
After Cave played I tried to stick around to see Skarekrau Radio. Unfortunately, even though their gear was set up they still hadn’t gone on stage yet and it was getting later than expected. Rather than wait around, I decided to head out to where I was crashing that night.
So should you check this bill out. While Catholic Guilt probably won’t be coming to Columbia in the near future (though I could very well be wrong), I do recommend seeing Cave and JATSB when they come to town at Mojo’s next month.