By Alexei Shaun
There’s no place quite like The Lou. The art culture is diverse and the music scene is brilliantly-evolving. We can travel hundreds and thousands of miles all over this world for work or leisure, yet nothing usually feels as warming or lovely as being home for most people. I completely adore the music culture in my hometown so much.
I’ve noticed a huge shift taking place, bringing some solid new waves into motion, and heavy cultivation within the music scene. You all may hear of folks speaking on this shift quite a bit around the city. I know I definitely have. On Friday, June 16th and Saturday, June 17th, one of Riverfront Times best and biggest showcases took place in the heart of The Grove this year. ShowcaseSTL featured more than 100 acts making this one of the largest events in STL history.
Super dope right ?
I live for moments like these!
Kicking your weekend off at ShowcaseSTL was the place to be and move to make for most people. Everyone was legit beaming with genuine joy, which is always nice to see. My luck must have been in the green zone by the way. I only had a few slight delays with working flights and I finally was able to make it home to catch some of the evening performances at The Bootleg.
As usual I was driving down Manchester Ave. to find a place to park and literally every parking spot was taken (just non-existent lol), so I drove a few blocks over and found a spot by an off street. I looked around as I quickly got out of my car and noticed others were in the same predicament. But still smiling, laughing, goofing around, and excited nonetheless to see these amazing performers on the ShowcaseSTL line-up.
"I could feel this pure energy
rippling off of people all around
the moment I stepped outside of my car.
There was nothing that could stop
STL vibes at ShowcaseSTL.
Yowie, an experimental rock, instrumental rock, and noise rock band was just wrapping up their set as I entered The Bootleg for the very 1st time. Amazingly, I could still feel the same energy I noticed when I got out of my car several minutes beforehand surging around the venue. The Bootleg is a fairly medium sized space, not super big and not super small. I often refer to music spaces like this as an intimate setting. Intimate settings like these are pretty neat in the aspect that an artist or musician can truly be up-close with fans and vice-versa.
As I wandered around The Bootleg I could faintly hear some very familiar music being played. I followed this sound which lead me to Atomic Cowboy’s Pavilion where I found Anthony Lucius & The Band giving an A1 performance. The 1st song I ever heard by the East Saint Louis native (a while back), Anthony Lucius was ‘Six Feet Under’ which is a really well-crafted song and has some smooth piano elements throughout the track. He always gives great delivery with his lyrical skills, so I had a good sense of what I was in store for during his performance. When the whole crowd is digging what you’re playing then you know you’re giving one amazing show. It’s always nice seeing what artists and musicians bring to the table with their music.
Next up to perform at The Bootleg was the Saint Louisan, Emcee Nato Caliph. He certainly had the crowd rocking and jamming out with his charismatic stage presence. Not only does he have great stage presence, he has a thought-provoking style towards his lyrics. Out of all the songs he performed, “Noble” is the one I absolutely enjoyed the most. “Noble” has this knock to it that makes you want to do some hardcore head nodding and it also features the alternative hip-hop duo, The Domino Effect also hailing from STL (they for sure added a saucy feel when performing “Noble” alongside Nato).
Now of course this day was heavily centered around music, yet I noticed a lot of people were chilling outside chatting it up or grabbing a bite to eat of some barbeque from a food stand. So I thought to myself why not, I’ll take a little break from The Bootleg and check out what else is going on around The Grove. I went over to Siam for several minutes or so, and personally for me it was a completely different feel than what I’m used to from when it was formerly known as Novak’s (which was a long running gay dance club/bar). Ironically, it seems I had caught one band right at the end of their performance again and another band setting-up for their set. Everyone else was simply sitting back with friends socializing, having drinks, or waiting on the next performers. I decided to head back over to The Bootleg, so I wouldn’t miss The Domino Effect set and since things had slightly slowed down at Siam.
Let’s get into a little bit more on The Domino Effect. They're a duo consisting of Cue ColdBlooded and Steve N. Clair. YO like this duo has the juice no doubt! Their performance skills will certainly get you vibing out as they rap over some of the illest beats. Real talk...If you haven’t heard of them for some reason then you should totally check out their music. On top of having phenomenal music, their energy is never lacking from the moment they grab a mic.
When they brought up Lyrique and E. Clair to perform “Frequencies” I instantly zoned out and felt high off life and music. The way Lyrique and E. Clair sings these catchy lyrics (will get anyone in a chill mood), “Let me take you high. High, high, high. Straight up to the sky. High, high, high. Way above the clouds. We ain’t coming down. Down, down, down.” I straight up had these lyrics stuck in my head for a while (I was actually humming them as I typed this article). Also, Indiana Rome was brought out to perform “314-Life” with The Domino Effect and the three of them created the most litty feels. Needless to say it was fun and inspiring to watch everyone perform during The Domino Effect’s set.
Before I turned in for the night I made sure to stay and catch Eric Donté hit the stage. Eric Donté unapologetically gives you these honest and often straight to the point lyrics in the most catchiest/”Ghetto Trance” ways. It’s just so refreshing to see people stand up for what they believe in and he does this so well. He’s also established a strong repertoire of songs such as “World War E”, “Levels”, “Litty Kitty”, and “Afternoon” that will make you feel like dancing, majorly rocking out, and simply chilling all at the same time. Over the last year he’s leveled up with even more of a tenacious work ethic (performing many times every month and sometimes even multiple times within one day), helping him reach new incredible heights like performing at this year’s Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival and making RFT’s STL-77 alongside a couple of other artists mentioned above.
When it comes to Fadda Vampire, he can grab and hold a crowd’s attention right off the back. The way he captivates a room full of people packed from wall to wall seems to happen so effortlessly. I mean, it has to be one helluva feeling to have a huge crowd chanting your name on cue and happily ready to do so. Fans were literally trailing him from venue to venue last Saturday to see him perform highly energized sets. I think it’s safe to say Eric Donté has a unique sound that is here to stay. Certainly looking forward to what else he has in store for us.
STL artists, bands, and musicians are for sure whipping up some next level sounds. I was finally able to see a lot more performers doing what they do best and love most. Being able to witness the growth and togetherness around the city is really damn beautiful. It was nothing but love. Which also makes me think about how some people don’t share these sentiments, they’ve mentioned that people in the city/music scene can be unsupportive. Maybe this was so at one point in time, but for me I feel quite the opposite. Everytime I look up there’s folks collaborating, networking, and reaching out to one another to truly succeed.
ShowcaseSTL greatly displayed how supportive people actually are in the city/music scene towards each other. The support, resources, and avenues are at an all time high. However, we all receive the same 24 hours in a day, what we choose to do or not do with our time is solely on us (no one else).
"It's all about starting your day
with a mindset of believing
and keeping faith that all
you desire can be reached.
All you've ever dreamed of
can become a reality.
It's all often right around the corner;
waiting for you to break ties
with your fears, surrender to your
higher self, and truly take action.
Even when you hit a roadblock is that going to stop you ? Even if no one is willing to steer you in a better direction are you going to let that hold you back ? I dearly pray it doesn’t stop you and that you don’t allow anything to hold you back. You have to create another way and always keep what you’re passionate about alive. A new favorite quote I came across says it best, “Stop waiting. Learn how to do things yourself. Do what you can, where you’re at, with what you got.” All else will surely fall into place, just keep grinding.
STL is definitely hustling, shining, and showing how our music scene can contend with some of the best music around the world. As each day passes by, it’s artists within STL who are truly inspiring people all around. This particular weekend was like receiving a special deal to see a melting pot of wavy performances. I’m extremely in awe of how RFT opened up the showcase to such a massive amount of artists, bands, and musicians. ShowcaseSTL is all about the culture, as well as many other music events that are held around the city. We are making the necessary key strides and our time is definitely here lovelies. Let’s embrace each moment and let's get it!