Local H play Saturday night show at the Billiken Club

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The Billiken Club met with more rock than it could handle last Saturday night, Sept. 17, with bands Local H, Thee Shams and The Crewl Cuts. Saint Louis University hipsters came out of the woodwork to listen to the bands, and it’s a good thing they did. There were about 40 people at the show-a pity, given the awesome music of the night. The show wasn’t highly publicized on campus and wasn’t on the list of tour dates on Local H’s Web site. Thee Shams, the second act of the show, brought the slightly comatose crowd to their feet with their unique melange of 70s flash, hard rock and blues sensibility. Call it The Black Keys meets The Kinks meets the fictional band Stillwater from Almost Famous. The mellow tones of lead vocalists Zach and Andrew Gabbard melded almost inaudibly over the thrash of their guitars and the intense drumming of Dave Colvin. While the lyrics were hard to make out over the assailing instrumental, the random jam sessions were incendiary. Guitarist and vocalist Zach Gabbard described their sound as “swamp blues rock.” Gabbard said the band is on the way to California, but decided to make a stop in St. Louis. “We heard [the Billiken Club] was awesome, and we had to come,” he said. The band, which has been playing together for four years, plays about 200 shows a year, and is less of a band than a “working family,” as Gabbard described it. “None of us work or go to school or anything – It’s a good time to just play music; we get drunk and then don’t have to be at work until 11 p.m. the next day,” Gabbard joked. Thee Shams are signed with Fat Possum records, the same label as The Black Keys. They have been profiled in magazines and some of their music was used in the upcoming movie Unfiltered, directed by Creighton Vero, the writer of Spun. Thee Shams proved to be an up-and-coming band on the up-and-up. Local H was the headliner. They put on a good show; just two guys on stage, rocking out. Lead singer Scott Lucas didn’t editorialize between songs. They finished one song and launched directly into another, barely leaving enough time in between for the crowd to clap, however meager the applause might have been. Local H’s sound was like post-Nirvana grunge rock, but the lead singer looked and sounded like Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day. It was somewhat hard to get a good look at Brian St. Clair, the drummer, as he was head banging the entire time. The small crowd gathered around the stage, grooving and listening to the band’s hit single, “Copasetic.” Although Lucas threw a hissy fit over the annoying feedback (he actually started beating the microphone), the whole show was intimate and laid back. Toward the end of the set, Lucas jumped off the stage and walked through the crowd while still wailing on his guitar, and a guy in the audience even gave him a draft out of his beer cup. If all the shows at the Billiken Club this fall promise to be this good, maybe people will start showing up.