Friday, May 02, 2008

Thursday Night in St. Louis: Caribou

I feel I have very few opportunities left to see great live shows before I have another mouth to feed. Last night was the perfect opportunity to take in one of those shows. (Saturday will be another.) Caribou played the Billiken Club on SLU's campus and was featuring a bright new artist of the underground.

Billy, the two Justins from Bald Eagle and I piled into the BE van to see Ahmed Gallab of Columbus, OH's own and Emergency Umbrella signee Sinkane play drums for Caribou. I had never met the guys from BE, but I can tell you that they are honorable gentlemen with a sharp wit and sharper tongue. Again, another trip to St. Louis resulted in good conversation and some good rock 'n roll.

After arriving at SLU's campus and killing some time, we were able to meet up with Ahmed after his sound check. We added another guy to our group and headed to The Tap Room, Shlafly's downtown restaurant. The Vietnamese Po' Boy was delish, and the conversations humorous. We laughed and discussed everything from Canadian prog bands to the best video game controllers to the great white shark. All of this over a few sandwiches.

While Billy and Ahmed talked business, some of us took in the opening act, Fuck Buttons. Yes, you read that correctly. Fuck Buttons sounded exactly as you would imagine. While Caribou filled the stage with guitars, two drum kits, and various synthesizers, FB set up a folding table and some laptops.I don't want to be too critical, but it kinda sucked buttons. There's just something missing from watching two kids play iMacs. This was the twosome I suspected Rob Gordon signed to Top 5 Records in High Fidelity. Some kids apparently loved FB. I just didn't get it.

As Caribou began setting up, I wondered how their sound would translate to a live setting. I had only recently picked up Andorra, the most recent release from Daniel Snaith's project, and was somewhat unfamiliar with the rest of the discography. Ahmed had introduced us to "Danny" earlier and he seemed a nice enough guy. This was aprapos for the dreamy, nonthreatening soundscapes on Andorra. I wondered if it were possible to recreate such sounds in a live venue. I also wondered how two drum kits fit into the equation. My interest was peaked.

The Billiken's stench of "wet burritos", ridiculously high temperatures, and poor sound system did not dampen Caribou's phenomenal set of drones, big beats, and psychedelia. Snaith effortlessly moved between guitar, drums, synth, and recorder while handling a good part of the vocal duties. While the other players worked guitar, bass, and synthesizers from behind, the other star, Gallab, played his kit across from Snaith. Ahmed is easily one of the top five drummers I've seen in-person, in my lifetime. (I feel a blog post coming...) All in all, the band was incredibly tight and sounded even bigger than they do on record. It was like watching My Bloody Valentine if they came up in the late sixties and added Keith Moon to their lineup. It really blew me away.

Besides the thrilling set from Caribou, I discovered what many in the underground are already fully aware of: Ahmed Gallab has "superstar potential" written all over him. Not only is he a gifted drummer and musician, but Ahmed has a charisma rarely seen...well, anywhere. His friendliness is genuine. His knowledge of music is both rich and unique. Drum and cymbal companies want to sponsor him and bands want him behind their kits. Pitchfork even wants to break him. The man is going to be huge. Besides, he's from Columbus.

As you can see, the night was loaded with good times and will not soon be forgotten. If this happens to be one of the last shows I see for a long time while my kid grows up, that will be OK by me. Thursday night was enough show for me for a while...or until The Walkmen hit town this weekend.


Mike said...


comoprozac said...

I just realized that I titled this post "Tursday Night..."

You should me jealous. It was sweet.

Anonymous said...

You saw them for free. Where else does shit like that happen in St. Louis?

comoprozac said...

It doesn't really happen anywhere.

Erm said...

I guess with a blog name "Living in Misery", one can't really expect too great of things from this. As far as Fuck Buttons being like "suck buttons", bring your comp and I would like to see what you can do with it. Oh, but we already have, it's called "Living in Misery".

PS it probably smelled like wet burritos because the Billiken Club is a restaurant during the day time.

comoprozac said...

Good one, Erm. You called it. Thanks for commenting.