Full Circle with The Flaming Lips: 2012 In Review
By Jaime Lees
Thu., Dec. 20 2012 at 11:54 AM
Editor’s Note: The end of 2012 is upon us (also the end of the world, if you believe in that sort of thing), so we thought we’d put a cap on things by sharing some of our personal favorite shows, albums, events and general shenanigans. Join us as we indulge in some navel-gazing!
When I write articles for RFT Music, I’m not just reporting on music happenings — I’m writing about my life. One day my priorities might change, but for now what matters the most to me is music. Maybe that’s wrong or unhealthy or something, but it’s true, and luckily most of my favorite music moments of 2012 have been documented in some way on these pages.
I’m lucky in that I have a lot of freedom in this space. It’s curated not only by people who give a crap, but by people who value what I have to offer. After seven years of writing for this publication, I’m still grateful and excited for the opportunity. I absolutely adore my job here at RFT Music. My life is my work and my work is my life, and I’m honored to share it with you.
That said, here was my life in 2012:
I rang in the New Year in Oklahoma City. My sweet old dog, Ruby, had just passed and I was in the middle of some serious grief. I ran away for the weekend to hang out with old friends and see two shows with the Flaming Lips and my spirit animal, Yoko Ono. At the stroke of midnight, I was tipsy on pink lemonade moonshine, bathed in kisses and standing inside a massive sonic blast fortified by a fog of rainbow confetti, flashing lights, jumping lasers, hundreds of bright balloons and the twinkling reflections off of a giant disco ball. The Lips played Beatles covers with Yoko and Sean Lennon and Nels Cline; it was absolute bliss and served as a strong reminder of the healing power of live music.
I’ve been saved again and again by amazing music — most of it local. I’m a huge fan of so many of our local bands. Many people wait years for their favorite bands to tour, but for me, my favorite bands play all the time. As an extra treat, I get the opportunity to write about these St. Louis music makers: Lion’s Daughter, Prince Ea, Jimmy Griffin, Jans Project, Demonlover, Roland Johnson, Fred Friction, Nelly and the list goes on and on. I know that a lot of what I write reads as love letters to St. Louis, but I just can’t help myself — St. Louis just makes it too easy. Stop being so awesome and I’ll stop writing about you. Until then, the locals have my heart. (Extra double shout-out to people that I’m proud to call my friends, the hard-working folks at Big Muddy Records, Tower Groove Records and the Rats & People Motion Picture Orchestra.)
I’m not sure why, but this year I felt particularly productive. I was given space to write about music-minded locals who inspire me creatively (Dana Smith), about St. Louis music history (STL 2000) and I got to hype the touring bands that I was the most excited about (Future of the Left, R. Ring). I’m still not quite over the fact that I actually get paid to get drunk and watch Guided by Voices, to eat pizza and listen to Taylor Swift, to try to convince readers that Heart is badass, to watch classic bands like Kiss and Mötley Crüe, to review Madonna from the second row, to jump into the world of Juggalos, to get Sinead O’Connor‘s take on St. Louis (and Chuck Berry) and to praise my personal heroes like Bonnie Raitt and Henry Rollins. If you can find a girl that is luckier than me, I’d sure like to meet her.
Under the advice of my very favorite punk rock couple, I attended a show with a band I’d never heard before: I saw Useless Eaters at CBGB and it was the best damn show I saw all year. These kinds of happy accidents only occur when you actually listen to the suggestions of others, so try keep some cooler-than-you friends around.
And though I was stoked on the lineup this year at our big summer festival, LouFest, I had originally declined to do any LouFest coverage. I wanted a weekend of fun, without having to spend all night writing reviews. But there was a last-minute rescheduling and Kiernan came and found me right before Dinosaur Jr played. He needed someone to write about Dino’s set. I said sure, knowing that it would actually be easy– on some level I’d been prepared to review a Dino show for at least half of my life. Kiernan hunted down an empty beer box for me to write on and then he went back out into the crowd, off on his next mission. I found a pen, ducked under a friend’s umbrella and wrote my notes out on the cardboard. Improvising ain’t just for musicians, you know, and the Dino review turned out to be one of my favorite things that I wrote all year.
The second night of LouFest, I again found myself at the emotional mercy of the Flaming Lips live show, but this time as a participant. I danced onstage with some of my favorite people, and I absolutely rocked that slutty Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz costume, if I do say so myself. It was one of the best days of my life and it’s far too personal to write about here, but trust me, it was a good time and I felt absolutely smothered in love.
Since then my life and routines have gotten back on schedule, and this fall has been one great event after the last, and with the upcoming holiday season is bringing tons of shows that I’m excited about– I predict that I won’t get much sleep through the end of the year.
As for the future, who knows? I’m excited about the new crop of weirdness on the South Side. Magic City, Black James, Syna So Pro, Demonlover, Bug Chaser and Horsey Drawers have my interest right now, but nobody can predict what insanity will come in 2013. I, for one, can’t wait. Bring on the New Year. I’ll be lurking in the many venues, festivals, dark basements, loud practice spaces and fancy recording studios around town. See you at the barricades.
link: Riverfront Times
Yes, our hometown boy is a big ol’ superstar. He’s also one of the biggest St. Louis boosters of all time. And while it’s fun when he plays more intimate shows (like the surprise show at the Duck Room in celebration of getting his own star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame), he belongs on the big stage. This Saturday, he’ll perform as part of the Celebrate St. Louis series. Our Cornell Jr. has personality and tons of charisma to match, but his charming smile is nothing compared to his contagious hits. From “Hot in Herre” to “Pimp Juice” to “Just a Dream,” Nelly gets the job done with a confident Midwest swagger.
Downtown Man: Having performed with Chuck Berry a few summers ago at a Democratic National Convention rally at Kiener Plaza, Nelly seems to have become the go-to guy for these big free shows. We ain’t complaining.
— By Jaime Lees
link: Riverfront Times
Songs for the First Day of Summer
By Jaime Lees
Wed., Jun. 20 2012 at 12:09 PM
Ah, summer in St. Louis. A time for tank tops, sunscreen, cold beers sweating in koozies, frying at music festivals, hooking up with randoms, slapping mosquitoes, listening to a member of the Buck family narrate and — if you’re lucky — not dodging too many stray bullets.
Today is the first official day of summer, so we thought we’d celebrate one of the best music-listening seasons by sharing some must-rock summer jams. There are tons of options to choose from: It’s a season for blossoming, for growth, for partying, for enduring and hopefully, for a little fun break in your busy life.
Yes, there is a song out there for every feeling, situation and time, but so many good ones center around this hot, sexy middle season. There’s a summer song for you if you’re feeling romantical. There’s a summer song for you if you’re feeling nostalgic. There’s a summer song for you if you’re finally finished with school. There’s a summer song for you if you’re cheesy. There’s even a summer song for you if you suck.
My favorite summer song is the Breeders’ “Saints” off of the classic ’90s album Last Splash. It’s a dead obvious choice, with lyrics about crowds, fairs, hot metal and the repeating line “summer is ready when you are.” In fact, the whole Last Splash album just sounds like summer, with its surf leanings (“Flipside”), hit sing-a-longs (“Cannonball”) and songs custom built to listen to while cruising with your hand out the window and your palm open to the breeze (“Drivin’ on 9”).
Our hometown hero, Nelly, has given us not one, but two instant summer jams. First came “Country Grammar.” Summer in the Lou cannot start without giving this mega-hit a spin, especially with all the nods to familiar scenes and locations in the video. Then, a couple of years after “Country Grammar,” our golden boy gave us “Hot in Herre,” which is both a club hit and a phrase that is repeated for months ’round these parts, given the hairstyle-ruining humidity.
Any list of timeless summer songs should include a song by the Beach Boys, whose occasionally mercurial front man Brian Wilson turns 70 today. Almost any early song by the Boys works, really. The band’s whole image was designed around those guys being the ultimate groovy summer ambassadors, with their songwriting centered around California, surfing, cool cars and tan girls in bikinis. Of course, any Beach Boys fan can tell you that the talent and focus of the band goes deeper than their sandals and Hawaiian shirts, and the members eventually became some of the most revered musicians in pop music history. Still, let’s take a minute to honor one of the best songs ever written, the twinkling opener to Pet Sounds.
What are some of your favorite summer songs? What song do you queue up to listen to with the windows down? Do you have a set soundtrack to nights drinking on your porch, walking your dog around Forest Park, driving down to the Cardinals game or getting (un)dressed to go sweat it out on the dance floor? Let’s share. Post your favorites in the comments.
- link: Riverfront Times