Band Barrage Rocks the Billiken Club

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This fall a barrage of bands will be coming through The Billiken Club, the space more commonly known now as Salsarita’s.

The venue, which is run by the Next Big Thing Committee, has lined up bands for nearly every Saturday night of the semester, with a few week night shows thrown in as well.

A majority of the bands are relatively unknown, with the exception of Midwest alt-rockers Local H, but anonymity shouldn’t keep students from venturing out to see these bands. In any event, the shows are all free, so there’s nothing to lose by stopping by before that sweet frat party.

The concert series will kick off next Tuesday with five straight nights of shows that make Baskin-Robbins wish they knew the meaning of variety. The line-up will feature a number of whimsical tribute bands: Say It Ain’t So, Weezer-worshippers; Beatallica, a hybrid tribute band (I bet you can’t guess which two bands); and A-Cue-Stick Journey, a one-man ode to Journey. The week will wind down with loud rock legends Fragile Porcelain Mice, Warped Tour’s 12 Summers Old, indie popsters LAPUSH, and Riverfront Times favorite, Riddle of Steel.

Columbia, Mo.’s The Foundry Field Recordings will be stopping through on their way back from the College Music Journal Music Marathon in New York. This band plays indie pop in its purest form, drawing largely on influences such as Built to Spill, Grandaddy, and Beulah, and polishing it with the pop sensibilities of Phil Spector and Brian Wilson.

The Foundry Field Recordings will share the stage with rising college radio stars Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin from Springfield, Mo. While their name may be a bit tedious, their music is anything but. Imagine a more upbeat Elliott Smith, tinged with a little bit of Weezer’s dorkiness, and you have the sound of SSLYBY. The band is quite young, with their oldest member clocking in with just 22 years, but their music has the timelessness of perfect pop.

Homecoming weekend will usher in two bands featuring Saint Louis University alumni. Steve Bartolomei heads up Omaha band Mal Madrigal, which also features members of the bands Mayday and The Good Life (from the oh-so-trendy Saddle Creek scene). While he may share band members with the likes of Tim Kasher and Conor Oberst, Bartolomei’s music is much more mellow than that of his contemporaries. Mal Madrigal is humble, simple, and earnest. Richard Buckner would be proud.

Fans of Wilco will jump for joy when they hear alum Chris Grabau’s band, Magnolia Summer. Grabau and company have shared the stage with the likes of Jay Bennett (Wilco), Will Johnson (Centromatic, South San Gabriel), Robyn Hitchcock (The Soft Boys), Ken Stringellow (The Posies), and Milton Mapes, and even had a stint at the venerable South By Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas.

Mid-October will feature two rather eclectic acts, also with origins in Missouri. From the depths of the Ozarks comes Brendon Massei, who is more often recognized by the name of Viking Moses. Massei (who will also respond to his religious appellation) has been playing shows across the nation since the mid-Nineties with the likes of Cat Power, Ted Leo, Will Oldham, Devendra Banhart, and The Mountain Goats. However, it was only after last year’s The Golden Apples of the Sun compilation for Arthur Magazine that people began to recognize the name Viking Moses. Massei’s music is simple, sweet, and stripped down, much in the style of Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy.

Massei will share the stage with Jagjauwar Records’ The Minus Story from Boonville, Mo. The band self-defines their sound as the “Wall of Crap,” or a “naively recorded pop symphony.” Comparisons to Joan of Arc and The Microphones are difficult to avoid, though there is definitely a traceable influence of Neutral Milk Hotel, as well.

Halloween weekend will host two consecutive nights of shows. Friday night will feature lo-fi Floridan wonder Emperor X, known to friends as Chad Matheny. While he is legally visually impaired and cannot operate a motor vehicle, Matheny certainly knows how to work his laptop in mysterious musical ways. On first listen, Matheny’s voice may seem a bit strident-think early Bright Eyes, but with slightly more endearing subjects than teenage angst. After all, it isn’t often that one hears songs about computer radiation and rapid transit.

Backing Matheny will be the local dance-punk band So Many Dynamos. The Billiken Club show is perhaps the only stop on a nationwide tour during which So Many Dynamos will be playing their own music. The endearingly nicknamed “Dyna-bros” are on the fast-track to (indie) fame with recent write-ups in both SPIN and Entertainment Weekly. Long before the mainstream media got a hold of them, they caught the attention of The Dismemberment Plan’s Jason Caddell, who produced their ridiculously catchy debut album, When I Explode. Don’t be intimidated by the moniker “dance-punk.” Fans of The Faint and Fugazi alike will find So Many Dynamos to their fancy.

It’s the modern-day love story. Boy meets girl. They buy a laptop, and start a band. Welcome to electro-pop duo J+J+J, who will take the stage on October 28 with local hip-shakers Femme Fatality and Team Up. Johnny Ludwig and Joanna Jablonski pump out crazy beats and blips. Since they met at a concert in a church parking lot, they added another J to their name as homage to Jesus.

Cool.