The Best St. Louis Noise/Experimental Shows: June 2014
Kevin Harris, curator of this Friday's multi-sensory event As Unstable As.
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.
The long, relentless winter left me pining for summer nights in St. Louis. Not that the humid heat is any better than the biting cold (that's all a matter of preference after all), but there's something about being trapped in venues with loud bands while the air is thick enough to drink. If the music is equally as exhausting as the weather, the whole experience tends to coalesce.
There's no shortage of gigs in June for fans of noise and the experimental ilk. From legendary free jazz players to post-rock icons, St. Louis is a destination for incredible acts all month long. Read on and take your pick from the many flavors featured below.
Brotzmann has appeared at Lemp Arts Center a number of times in recent years, but this line up, featuring bassist William Parker and drummer Hamid Drake, might be the quintessential experience for fans of free-jazz, both old and new. The venue is particularly cozy, so seating is limited. The stage-less room also means that you'll be eye level with three recognized legends in experimental music.
Brotzmann's saxophone commands a dynamic rhythm section from Parker and Drake, who bring a level of urgency and quick wit to the realm of contemporary jazz. What you're getting here is jazz turned on its head and spun into circles - a dizzying array of familiar sounds breaching unfamiliar ground.
Courtesy of Lemp Arts Center
The video above is nearly four years old, but it depicts sound artist Matthew Reis delivering a carefully crafted piece of harsh noise. This show is not especially designed for newcomers to experimental music, but that might be all the more reason to check out a musician who champions subtle sound over shocking volume. Reis is stopping by on his way back from a family emergency in California, so the heads at Lemp Arts Center have organized this event as a fundraiser for one of their favorite touring performers.
The local line-up features two like-minded artists, making for a show that rewards patience and careful listening. Make no bones about it, this show is especially niche and will likely be under-attended due to its very nature - that's all the more reason to jump in and give it a shot.