by Eric Barton
The Roman Numerals and Doris Henson rocked St. Louis Friday night. Riverfront Times music head Annie Zaleski was there to see it. Here's her report:
I often consider myself a Kansas city poseur. A crew and i drove in for the Gary Numan show at the Record Bar last week — a fabulous, fabulous show I might add, made doubly so with the brie/Swiss/mozzarella pizza and Blue Moon I scarfed. And I often gaze longingly at the Lawrence show schedule and scheme whether I can take off work to hop on over.
So I was rather pleased that the Roman Numerals were kind enough to grace St. Louis with their presence on Friday night for a CD release party. We have a small but fierce electronic music scene; the bands that do play out are great, but it's also rare when we get any of the national/regional synthpop acts of any merit. And I do love me some synth-based rock bands, since I'm a huge new-wave head.
They had the luxury of playing at our local legendary dive, the Hi-Pointe, the nexus for the local music scene that's busy most nights of the week. (I had three separate people I had never met before recognize me from MySpace.) The crowd they drew was disappointingly small, but filled with risk-obsessives and synth-dorks, as far as I can tell. Still, the entire bill didn't disappoint: fabulous local St. Louis rockers the Bureau — think Moving Units meets Interpol — opened with a typically spring-loaded set. They're in the middle of recording their full-length debut, and I have high hopes for it. When they play KC, go.
Doris Henson also drove in from KC for the occasion. I've been a big fan of theirs for awhile now, but never seen 'em; saw the first part of their set and was super impressed. Big points for the use of horns without reverting to ska; this is a big, big problem with St. Louis bands. We have quite the ska problem here.
Anyway, roman numerals: holy shit. I was totally in awe. Amazing show. I must admit I never listened to any of the former bands the members were in (hey, I was too busy obsessing over Morrissey and REM in the 90s), but I could tell that everyone had years of touring under their belts, and I could hear hints of those bands in the new stuff. "Can we trust your architect?" just killed, although the highlight by far for me was "Mrs. Control," which just kept rolling and going on and on, with waves of sugary guitar, space-wave flourishes. And those anguished vocals! Goddamn! (I'm listening to it obsessively today, in fact.) Other songs reminded me of Failure or Joy Division, and Matt from Doris Henson jumped onstage for the final song, which out-Bowie'd Bowie. There was plenty of drunk dancing, too. A-plus.
KC is lucky to be able to see such great local bands so often. Please come back soon!