The Six Best Shows of 2012 That Nobody Attended
Editor's Note: The end of 2012 is upon us, 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!
The Sea and Cake: Just one of the great shows you probably didn't go to this year.
Despite what you may presume from the headline, I don't intend for this to be an "Oh man, I was there and you weren't" piece at all. Even with as bitter and cynical as we citizens of St. Louis can be sometimes, it's important to remember that we really are completely blessed when it comes to the music scene, in terms of shows both local and national. The people that run our city's venues genuinely bust their asses, with the goal being less to pack the house every night than it is to offer all parties involved -- fans and bands alike -- a memorable experience. In keeping, smaller acts with less draw are welcomed with open arms by many promoters in St. Louis, and with that abundance comes the impossibility of seeing every interesting concert that may show up on your radar.
So yeah, I get it. You probably missed most of these shows. In some instances that's okay, but at the same time: What were you thinking? Consider this an ode to all those shows that slipped through the cracks, but were certainly no less memorable than any sold-out affair over the past year.
6. Nato Coles, Matt Harnish and Googolplexia at a House Party on Minnesota Ave. - July 21, 2012: Pretty much everyone in St. Louis -- minus twenty or thirty people -- missed this show. You would have to have spent 2012 hanging out with a certain far-reaching circle of fun-havin' degenerates to have even known about it, but the fact that it was in a poorly maintained living room with a two-bit sound rig didn't take away from the quality tunes. Rob Severson's one-man-band Googolplexia opened the evening in the way that only he is capable of: by harnessing and crystallizing the general awkwardness that comes with staring at a kind-of goofy dude wearing a headset and playing a ukulele. Or an accordion. Or, barking his own primitive take on beat-boxing - take your pick. Nato Coles of Minneapolis, who usually brings his Blue Diamond Band with him, worked through a rousing set of sing-along pub rock, but it was Bunnygrunt's Matt Harnish, also flying solo, who turned in the best half hour of the night. I don't recall any Bunnygrunt songs, but I do remember a handful of covers and a few originals. It was every bit as fun as a Bunnygrunt show, and, if nothing else, even more hilarious. The bright pink, tiny acoustic guitar and the koozie-wrapped bottle of wine Harnish was sipping on throughout the set pretty much summed the experience up.
5. Sea & Cake and Matthew Friedberger at Luminary Arts - October 28: This show drew more people than any of the other shows mentioned here, but it was still nowhere near as full as a Sea & Cake show should be, damn it. We're talking about the auditory gurus who I'm told are from Chicago, even though the songs sound as if they were recorded on a breezy island far away from the middle of America. Considering the band's strong affiliation with Tortoise and how synth-heavy some of Sea & Cake's albums sound, it was refreshing to see four dudes covering such a wide array of sounds with only guitars, drums and an assortment of pedals. Matthew Friedberger, one half of the brother-sister duo Fiery Furnaces, opened. His solo work was in the same vein as the Furnaces experimental synth-pop, only way less poppy and way more experimental. Five minutes into his set I thought to myself, "This noise is almost seizure inducing." Then, I shit you not, twenty minutes later a dude had a seizure five feet away from me, fell over and took out part of the merch table. He completely froze up on the ground for a minute, eventually came to as a few of us stood over him, then popped up and rushed out. I still think about that dude and hope he was alright, but then there's also a weird part of me that thinks it was probably some Andy Kaufman-style ruse on the part of Friedberger.