SevenStar w/Happy Endings and Ghetto Prenup: Mississippi Nights, April 9, 2004

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