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
The Telescopes’ Stephen Lawrie is a Shoegaze Legend; Won’t Give Up His Hair Secrets
By Jaime Lees
Mon., Apr. 30 2012 at 7:43 AM
English space-rock heroes the Telescopes shared both a record label and a scene with bands like the Jesus & Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine, but never shared the acclaim. And though the Telescopes are worshiped by modern noise makers as O.G. shoegazers, its influence hadn’t translated into a full band tour until now.
With one week of U.S. shows scheduled around Austin Psych Fest — including tomorrow’s stop at the Firebird — and band members borrowed from hard-working Texas bands, Stateside fans will have their first opportunity to catch the Telescopes at full power.
We worked out a quick interview with Telescopes’ singer and founder, Stephen Lawrie, and found him to be both friendly and playfully cryptic.
Jaime Lees: Your show here is in a week, have you made it to the States yet?
Stephen Lawrie: Yes, we’re down in Fort Worth rehearsing. We have the first show tonight. At Lola’s.
We are super excited that you’ll be a the Firebird. How did you come to set up a show in St. Louis?
Collin from Chatham Rise hooked us up with everyone.
I hear that you haven’t played a show in six years. How are you feeling? Are you nervous? Excited?
Last U.S. dates were six or so years ago. Totally different experience. We played free drone noise sets as a duo. This time it’s a full group experience.
How has your approach to songwriting changed over the years?
It changes every time I write.
Which bands do you consider to be your contemporaries, both past and present?
Everyone and no one.
What other music projects are you working on aside from the Telescopes tour?
New music with the Telescopes. I’ve been recording a lot with a great noise outfit from London called One Unique Signal. There are always collaborations with füxa floating around as well and I’m collaborating on a piece with Afgan, who work with our Antenna label.
You mentioned that part of the band are Texans, how did that happen?
We’re friends with the Cush from Fort Worth. They hooked us up with everyone.
I’m so in love with the idea and design of the flexi-disk postcards. How did they turn out?
Very nice thank you. It’s also available to download from the 28th. Through Genepool Records.
You’ve always had great hair. Do you have any styling / maintenance tips?
Ha. No, none. It is what it is.
Who would win in a hair war between you and Ian McCulloch of Echo & the Bunnymen?
Who do you think is a bigger alien: Prince or David Bowie?
Catch the Telescopes on May 1 at the Firebird with three stellar local openers: Tone Rodent (layered sonic cosmonauts), False Moves (driving alterna-doomers) and Magic City (dark David Lynch-esque sex machines).
Doors at 8, show at 8:30
2706 Olive Street
St. Louis, MO 63103
– link: Riverfront Times
This weekend El Lenador officially became the epicenter of the South St. Louis music scene. It’s a place where locals go to see other locals. There’s a tight sense of community, but that’s not to say that it feels exclusive or exclusionary. It’s a place where bands seem to look out for and support each other.
Friday night brought a packed show with Bloody Knives, Bug Chaser, Tone Rodent and Trauma Harness. A small fight broke out in the crowd when a few rowdy jerks tried to start a mosh pit, but the offenders were quickly shown the door. The crowd, undaunted, quickly went back to enjoying its collective evening.
Saturday night featured the album release party for Catholic Guit with guests Magic City and Shaved Women.
Shaved Women got the crowd head-bobbing around. It was clear that this new band had already made an impression because much the crowd seemed to already know much of the music. They were enthusiastic. And not just supportive friends, but as real fans. When bass player John Birkner fell to the ground and began worming his way across the floor, audience members just smiled and stepped over him and his trailing cord.
Magic City plays a different show every time it plays out. Faithful followers can never be sure what kind of performance to expect. Sometimes it’s a psychedelic freak out, sometimes it’s like funky R&B, sometimes it’s like a basement rock show, sometimes it’s like gospel church. Magic City is delightfully baffling. During its set, each member is separately interesting, and it’s hard to know where to look.
The place fully filled out in time for Catholic Guilt. The crowd was watching the band but the band was watching each other, mostly playing in tight circle. It wasn’t unfriendly; it was actually nice to watch. They were groovin’. The band’s sound is difficult to pinpoint, but it ranges from muddy atonal drone to Talking Heads-type hiccups. It all blends into one extensive, building jam.