As I walked into Mississippi Nights to check out three local
bands, the memories of my youth began to wash over me in waves.
Mississippi Nights was hallowed ground during my youth. Memories
of such legendary acts as KMFDM, Ministy, Fishbone, The Red Hot
Chili Peppers, and The Jesus and Mary Chain resurfaced as I absentmindedly
touched my forehead searching for those scars that once existed
thanks to the mosh pits of my time. Those times were only a memory
as I looked around in awe of the hordes of Avril Lavigne look-alikes
that milled about, looking so bored yet so full of angst. As I
smugly thought to myself how the riot girrrrls of my time would
kick their asses, a cold realization came to the forefront of
my thoughts: I have now become that creepy older man that once
attended the shows of my youth. I often wondered why these over-21
folks would be sitting down, sipping on their rum and cokes just
bobbing their heads as the bands rocked out on stage. As I reached
for my Malibu rum and coke, I had a whole “circle of life
moment” that froze me in my tracks.
For me, this concert was a fresh start into the world of St.
Louis local music. First up on the bill was Ghetto Prenup. Overall,
they turned in a strong, low-key, entertaining set of music. The
charm of this band is how well they feed off one another. They
got their groove on as Kevin Barry led his quartet through a deep,
dark spiral of freeform rock. There was a point during one of
their songs that I was having a small conversation with my sidekick
(talking about how much we liked Ghetto) as the drummer, Steve
Bunck, ripped off this amazing solo that forced both of us to
look up. We became mesmerized as he just laid down the law with
his drumsticks, not to show off or feed his own ego, but simply
for the love of his craft. His musicianship was equally matched
by Josh Kohn’s fretwork and Jeff Church’s subtle,
yet metronomic bass playing. The whole vibe of this band was stimulating,
intoxicating, and luscious.
Happy Endings was the middle course. These boys from Springfield,
Missouri served up a healthy dose of pure power pop/rock. Their
set was fun, energetic, and sharp. The lead singer was a bit flat
for my taste, but the rest of the band was dead-on, balls-to-the-wall
rock. These guys showed St. Louis that Springfield can produce
some top-notch talent.
The main attraction for the evening was SevenStar. I don’t
know if it was the infectious pop melodies or their high-energy
shenanigans, but this band just rocked. They seemed like a united
front that came to kick some rock ass. Just as I was about to
credit them as a one-trick pony, they changed gears. The drummer,
Jeremiah Miller, came to the front of the stage and floored the
audience with a cover of Arrested Development’s “Mr.
Wendal.” I was impressed; this band had a soul. Then lead
singer Grant Essig ripped off a few slower songs all by himself,
just an acoustic guitar to accompany him. The band eventually
returned to put the exclamation point on a very tight set. Just
when I thought the night couldn’t get any better, the band
did the most amazing rendition of Jane’s Addiction’s
“Jane Says.” The performance was absolutely mind-blowing
and cemented me as the newest Seven Star fan.
The whole concert was a rocking good time and provided me with
an easy on-ramp back into the world of St. Louis local music.
As the night was wrapping up, I finally put my finger on the one
thing missing…the smell of clove cigarettes. Ah…the
power of the clove.
— Jim Campbell