The Best St. Louis Noise/Experimental Shows: January 2014
Mabel Suen Yowie plays with Chicago's Cheer-Accident on January 11.
Deliberately shrill and mostly dense, "noise" has become a blanket term for bands that explore and experiment around the beaten path. The genre, like others, isn't without its share of hangups, but that's why we're here. Every month, we supply a short list of sure bets in St. Louis, ranging from needlessly complex to minimalist drone. Connect the weird to your ears.
For the month of January 2014, I offer you a few entry points into the realm of experimental music. The first show on January 11 features rock-based bands with songs driven mostly by guitar. You won't find any "noise" or random improvisation. January 23 at Apop Records has a traveling showcase of electronic acts who explore genres of dance, electro and ambient music. Lastly, the Regional Arts Commission, in partnership with the HEARDing Cats Collective, will host a groundbreaking performance based on sensory depravation. These things exist. See for yourself.
The new year brings feelings of new beginnings and fresh starts. I started this column last year with one goal in mind: connecting an audience with new music. I'll admit though, upon hearing the terms "noise" and "experimental" one decade ago, I passed it all off as "hipster." Using genres to describe music is a headache, because the second someone hears a word they don't like or identify with, you've lost them. Here's a comparison:
Would you expect a soda drinker to appreciate the subtleties of a craft beer? Maybe you're not a beer drinker, but the comparison is apt. In order to appreciate fine liquor, one's tongue must become acclimated over a series of drinks. Sure, some are born with a thirst for bourbon, but the taste of alcohol must be overcome before one can understand the nuance of a drink. As a music fan, don't force shots down your friend's throat.
Cheer-Accident with Yowie and The Conformists
Saturday, January 11
9 p.m | free
Four months ago, Chicago's Cheer-Accident headed out to Europe to play the legendary progressive-rock festival Rock in Opposition 2013. Since its return state side, the band has been in hibernation, writing and recording. On January 11, Cheer-Accident comes out of hiding for a rare jaunt to St. Louis. The band, led by luminary Thymme Jones (also known for You Fantastic!, Yona-Kit and Brise-Glace), pulls from more than twenty years of albums for a set that blends noisy instrumentals, odd pop and lush post-rock.
Openers include Yowie and the Conformists, both bands known for pushing boundaries of experimental rock in the Midwest. Yowie takes on neo-classical music built on atonal guitar riffs and scatter-brained drum beats. The Conformists brings a much murkier sound, forming brooding songs with bizarre textural shifts. The result is an ideal match of noise and rock with dark humor. Everything here is needlessly complex with a tongue planted firmly in cheek.