The first (hopefully annual) LouFest took place a few weeks back in Forest Park. Two stages, free water, great local food, and bands from near and far came together to make for an awesome weekend. The whole event was so St. Louis (unrelated, yet awesome link) that the only way to describe the bands I liked is through tortured local similes.
Local boys So Many Dynamos are like The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. Tight, dense and intricate, the Dynamos’ music moves forward with irresistible propulsion, much like the narrative that tells the story of the Lambert family. It is rare to have a non-opinion of either the band or the novel. One either loves or hates them.
New Jersey’s Titus Andronicus are The Royale. I had heard about them for a while and I was pretty sure that I would enjoy them, and when I finally got around to checking them out I was not disappointed. In fact, since then, I’ve probably listened to their most recent album The Monitor. I evangelize Titus Andronicus to everyone much in the same way that I evangelize The Royale’s fish tacos. Also: lots of beards.
Lucero is like the 2004 World Series. Awesome on paper, initially intriguing, but ultimately a let down and over far too soon due to the singer’s (alcohol related?) illness.
The Airborne Toxic Event are Pi. The undisputed champion of Day One, if you didn’t like what they had to offer, you have bad taste. Like the incomparable Bucktown deep dish pizza, The Airborn Toxic Event combines many sonic elements into one appealing product. Highly recommended.
Built To Spill reminds me of the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge. Been around forever, a little bit worse for the wear, but still chugging along. Their set showed signs of rust, but “Carry The Zero” is as strong a single as was played all day.
Broken Social Scene was just like Six Flags. Huge, intense and trying really, really hard to entertain, these earnest Canadians closed the first day with a large, long set. I wouldn’t consider myself a fan, but I definitely understand the appeal there. There were definitely highlights, most notably “7/4” and their latest single “Forced to Love,” but by the end of their set I was ready to go.
Carolina Chocolate Drops are similar to the Fabulous Fox Theatre. Like an especially well-preserved relic from a bygone era, this North Carolina string trio play old-time fiddle and banjo music rooted in the Piedmont region. Their intricate finger-picking skills are rarely seen in this day and age, but their cover of Blu Cantrell’s “Hit ‘Em Up Style” gave it all a modern twist.
Cory Chisel was the personification of the Way Out Club. Smoky and ragged with a white v-neck t-shirt, Cory Chisel gave a raw and soulful set of Americana folk-rock. Maybe a little out of his element on a sunny Sunday afternoon, you could smell the PBR seeping out of his pores from where we were sitting. Still, a good performance.
Jeff Tweedy is the St. Louis Cardinals. People came from all around to see the Wilco frontman play solo. He was indubitably the main attraction, and his star power almost certainly helped get the festival off the ground. His set (unlike the 2010 Cardinals) did not disappoint. Tweedy reworked classic Wilco songs for solo guitar and commanded the attention of the audience like few other solo artists could. Mayor Slay declared Sunday “Jeff Tweedy Day,” and the day was most certainly his.
She & Him closed out the festival with a set deserving of a comparison to Crown Candy Kitchen. Zooey Deschanel’s voice is as sweet as the famous malts at the north side landmark and M. Ward’s raspy baritone is as rugged as the neighborhood. Together, they made great music and put a fitting bow on a great concert.
Now, we spent most of our time lounging on blankets and sitting in lawn chairs, so I didn’t get many shots of the band. If that’s what you are looking for, local concert photographer Todd Owyoung was there and he has great shots from both days. The rest of our photos are here.