Review: An Under Cover Weekend 7 Delivers Two Nights of Memorable Music
Dots Not Feathers performing as Queen. Video courtesy of GrahamandSteve.
Yeah, They Rocked the Fuck Out of Us: Coming off the heels of two memorable turns as Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson, Dots Not Feathers had to kill Queen. DNF took no prisoners and hammed, hollered and jived its way to Queen-style mayhem in checkered spandex and matching mustaches. Keyboardist Katie Brooking strut around the stage like a rooster to open the set with "We Will Rock You." The Queen concert anthem served to hype up everyone in the Firebird. The applause was so deafening throughout any quiet break during a song that it was almost impossible to hear the bicycle bells scattered throughout the crowd during "Bicycle Race."
Ryan Myers and Jessica Haley each had their turn as lead vocalists. Haley practiced an upper register that appeared to love Freddie Mercury's idiosyncratic runs and pliable range. Myers gussied up his vocals on "We Are The Champions" to a ribald, operatic degree that stirred up the audience into a frenzy. Patrons of the Firebird cheered voraciously before, during and after Baier's solos -- each flawless, including "Killer Queen" which Ryan Wasoba, who would perform on night two quipped, "Couldn't sound anymore Queen THAN Queen." The response for DNF was so fervent with excitement and appreciation that when Baier and Brooking crossed the parking lot to carry their instruments to their cars, people standing outside applauded and cat-called while patting each member on the back. It was like watching a champion NBA team walk back to the locker room post-title celebration as their fans hang down from the rafters to high-five and congratulate them on their victory.
Band Most Likely to Get Glitter in its Eyes: As T-Rex, the Incurables, equipped with the formidable Jordan Heimburger on guitar, slithered and spat with the same discordant aggression that shrouds T. Rex's legacy. The Incurables slathered on eye liner, both soulless black and disco glitter, to embody the true meaning of "20th Century Boy." The band sounded ferocious. Jimmy Griffin's warble mimicked Marc Bolan's strange tremble that eschewed vocal protocol of rock from that era. The Incurables man-handled those songs with palpable comfort. So comfy were they that they tore through their set, the last of the night, with so much technical wizardry that it was hard to tell if they were ever off. Both the Incurables and Dots Not Feathers were able to grasp its chance in the spotlight with aggrandized choices hued in difficulty. You would think it would cause night two's acts to take a step back. Instead, night two was equally steeped in skill: making prowess AUCW 7's theme.
Ryan Wasoba & Foxing as Neutral Milk Hotel. Video courtesy of GrahamandSteve.
The Tear-Jerker: Ryan Wasoba does not have to be anyone but Ryan Wasoba. He has made his mark in St. Louis through his indelible work with math-rock heart stoppers So Many Dynamos, writing educational accounts of music history with equal parts dense intelligence and snide commentary and producing well-rounded work for St. Louis bands like Bear Hive and Foxing. The latter Wasoba worked to reproduce the sensitive, beloved sound of Neutral Milk Hotel. Jeff Magnum wrote Aeroplane Over the Sea to channel the grief he experienced after reading The Diary of Anne Frank. Aeroplane is centered on death and aches in every second of its sonic life. This despair was not jettisoned by Wasoba in favor of conducting a crowd-pleasing set. Wasoba and Foxing stayed true to the despair. The crowd responded as a taciturn mess of AUCW night one performers and patrons. During "Holland 1945," Firebird owner Mike Cracchiolo joined Foxing's Connor Murphy on brass, picking up the trombone to Murphy's trumpet. "Holland 1945" sprang a visceral reaction on the crowd. People bobbed and sang along to themselves. "Two-Headed Boy" choked me up, causing me to flair my nostrils in that ugly, reflexive way to stop any tears from protruding. Wasoba kept with the chord structure, never daring to add any flair or unnecessary panache to a song sewn together with turbulent guitar patches and vocals that claw at hope's door and echo the sound of ephemeral malaise. Wasoba knows how to write songs that stay on playlists for years. He knows how to write songs so quintessential to St. Louis' musical vernacular that bands name themselves after them. He also knows a good song, and when it is imperative to play that song the way its owner intended it.