I've written about the Lemp before, and I'd like to do it again. Last time I attended part of a noise festival, but last night was described by the musicians themselves as "a nice night of friends and acoustic music." It's a somewhat different scene, but it's interesting that the audience isn't all that different. Certainly, they weren't all the same people, but I'm sure there were plenty of people at both shows.
Artists: Falsetto Boy / Luc Michalski / Jordan Knecht / You, Crumbling
Venue: Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center
Location: St. Louis, Missouri
Date: December 21, 2008
The Lemp is such a fascinating place. Almost every show is $5, the audience is young (certainly plenty under 21 if not under 18), and their mantra-of-sorts is "no booze, no drugs, no jerks." It also helps that the people that run it and frequent it are just so damn friendly! There's such a community atmosphere there that something like the Pageant (let alone Riverport/Verizon Wireless Amphitheater) could never dream of. That's probably in no small part due to the smaller audience sizes and lack of real stage, but still. It's hard to go there and not have a good time.
So, anyway, this was an acoustic show featuring four different acts. I'll write a little bit about all four. I have to apologize for not being able to be as descriptive as I'd like – I accidentally left my notebook at home, so I'm going off of my fairly poor memory.
Falsetto Boy came first. The act is actually just one man, Jim Fitzpatrick, and his acoustic guitar. He played four or five songs, and I would say that of the four performers, he was probably my favorite. (I'm not just saying that because he's my friend. I swear.) His songs often feature some slightly odd tunings and strangely shaped chords, but it gives them a great sound. Nothing sounded dissonant, but Jim takes advantage of the chordal possibilities of a guitar to create voicings that are just a little bit out there. This was combined with his melodies that didn't always follow predictable patterns – several parts provided some nice counterpoint with the guitar riffs. The best song was a longer piece about death, inspired by the passing away of his grandfather. The lyrics were intelligent and there were several distinct segments that together built a cool song.
Luc Michalski was second. This was his first show (although an audience member shouted something to the effect that he has played in a band before), which is cool, but it kind of showed. I'm sure he did better than I did at my first show, but his guitar was consistently out of tune and he was visibly nervous, meaning that he was just a bit shaky and warbly. Regardless, I thought his melodies were good, and he certainly didn't perform poorly. This is definitely someone who has potential. With more experience (and a better guitar), he could become a really good act. He didn't do bad for his first show, and I suspect he'll do better in the future.
Jordan Knecht performed next. He forms half of the sort-of-broken-up Muscle Brain with Jim, but in that band, he plays/played drums, whereas here he was sporting an acoustic guitar. Like the other performers, he also played only maybe five songs. His guitarwork was decent on the first few songs, but then for one song, he plugged in to a looping pedal and a small amp and preceded to make a pleasant sonic landscape for himself to sing over. His vocals were probably the best of the night; he sounded the most trained and the most accurate. For his last song, he had a friend (I think the name was Michelle) come up and play one of her own songs, to which Jordan added baritone harmony and lead guitar parts. It was a good set.
You, Crumbling came last, and sadly, at least a third of the audience left before he started playing. This is the solo act of Curtis Tinsley, who played on a steel-stringed classical guitar with a rope for a shoulder strap. I wish I could remember more about his set, but what sticks out in my memory is that his guitar-playing was perhaps the best of the night. I was quite impressed by his ability to whip out great little riffs and melody lines on his guitar. I don't think his vocals were anything special, but I specifically recall a few guitar parts that were just really cool.
On the whole, this was a nice evening. As advertised, it was a pleasant night of friends and acoustic music (and free cider and hot chocolate!). I love the environment, and the music was good. Check out the links to each artist's webpages if you want to hear some of their recordings.
Overall score: B