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   READ: ISSUE 11                                     
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 COVER STORY  

  How Sleepy Kitty’s newest body of work became a real love letter to St. Louis   

  Issue 11  

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JJ Grey: funkified swamp rock 

Over a career that was launched with the 2001 album Backwater, Grey had delivered his six most recent studio albums over an eight-year span, with Ol’ Glory culminating that prolific run with its release in 2015. It took Grey that same amount of time to finish Olustee

 

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cedric burnside: Blues Torchbearer

Legacy. It’s a linchpin of what causes the blues to be such a vibrant and vital musical genre and a big part of the spirit of the strain that wends its way out of region that is the Mississippi Delta. 

 

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Innings Festival 2024, photo: Cory Weaver, Tempe, Arizona

 SLUG FEST: INNINGS FEST 2024  

  BACK COVER                                             

INTO THE WOODS WITH INDIGO DE SOUZA

A twenty-something misfit’s indie-rock metamorphosis 

BY: LAUREN TEXTOR

The 26-year-old American-Brazilian indie-rock artist wears flowy pants that resemble an acid-washed pickle. Her voice is uneven, as it is on many of the tracks of her three albums. It rises and falls with raw emotion, sharpening into screams during “Always” from her April release, All of This Will End.

 

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  FEATURES                                                                
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deep dive into sonic caverns with Cave radio

BY ALEX BAKKEN

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Dane Claws Their Way Back

BY THOMAS CRONE

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Talking cousin  with Wilco’s Nels Cline

BY ALAN SCULLEY

No Pretending: 

his lordship’s first U.S. Concert 

BY MATT FERNANDES

INDIE BRILLIANCE FROM DOWN UNDER 

BY ALEX BAKKEN

 FESTIVAL TAKEOVER                                                
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Inaugural Evolution Festival impresses
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magic number 3: MATI invigorates midtown

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Northwest Arkansas’ Innovating the three-day festival
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ACL: The Undeniable
Can’t-MIss Experience 
                           EXCLUSIVES FROM ACL   
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French Girl Chic Meets Effortlessly Cool

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Infusing Global Beats with Colombian Passion

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PERSEVERNCE PAYS OFF FOR LEON III

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Turning Quarters into Crescendos

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The Kills:
God Games
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Sufjan Stevens:
Javelins
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Margo Price:
Strays
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Black Pumas:
Chronicles of a Diamond
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Various Blonde:
Love is How We Survive
 Live Reviews                                                           
Band of Horses, Uptown Theater Kansas City, photo: Cory Weaver

A Memorable ‘Evening with Band of Horses’ at the Uptown Theater

STORY: Jennifer rolf PHOTO: Cory Weaver

Band of Horses, the iconic indie five-piece that pulls in elements of rock, folk and Americana, wrapped up their tour at the Uptown Theater in Kansas City on February 18. The set was split into two parts: 10 acoustic and 11 electric songs for their “An Evening with Band of Horses” tour. 

 

Although admittedly a little worse for the wear at tour’s end, vocalist/guitarist/BOH founder Ben Bridwell was no less excited to be there performing in front of a sold-out crowd on a Sunday night. He bantered with the audience and his bandmates throughout the show, contributing to an engaging and enjoyable experience.

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Declan McKenna, Delmar Hall, St. Louis

Declan McKenna: British Rock n Roller Packs Delmar Hall

STORY: Madisyn SIebert PHOTO: Cory Weaver

Imagine someone who is almost the perfect mix of Sir Elton John, Sir Paul McCartney and even the tiniest sprinkle of Austin Powers. Now imagine they are only 24 years old. All that in mind, you have met rising star, Declan McKenna, who played a sold-out show at Delmar Hall on Aug. 1 to help wind down summer.

 

The English singer-songwriter is bringing back iconic sounds of 1970s rock and encouraging a younger audience to discover music beyond 2020s pop.

 

Having gained popularity after winning the Glastonbury Festival's Emerging Talent Competition in 2015, McKenna self-released his most popular song to-date “Brazil” later that year in December to criticize the 2014 FIFA World Cup that was being held in the country. The song gained new life and new fans via TikTok in 2022.

 

McKenna’s much anticipated tour, dubbed “The Big Return,” which started in May and is winding down in November, has been a hit across North America. And that’s not just because of the hype from a revival of a song that has gone viral on TikTok—it’s for very good reasons.

 

The concert was the perfect balance of McKenna’s first two albums, What Do You Think About the Car? released in 2017 and Zeros, which was released a couple days into the global pandemic in 2020.

 

McKenna was engaging from beginning to end of the 18-song setlist. Not only was it engaging, but you could clearly tell he did this tour the way he wanted to do it, and not the way a stuffy old manager told him to do it. It felt like a breath of fresh air.

 

We had traditional pump-up songs, where he encouraged the crowd to move their hands up and down in unison, to times where McKenna took dramatic moments of just himself under the spotlight playing the piano to only slowly be joined by his other bandmates.

McKenna almost felt like your high school theatre kid turned “cool,” apologies in advance to all high school theatre enthusiasts. He had the fun quirks, unique outfit styles, was unapologetically himself and slightly sassy at times, but in the midst of all of that you could still see how McKenna is growing into himself and learning what is and isn’t working for him on stage.

 

One of the best moments of the night was when McKenna veered away from the setlist and addressed the crowd directly. “I’ll do you a deal. It’s not a shady under-the-table deal,” he stressed. “If we do no phones or cameras we will play a song we have never played live before. This is rock n’ roll baby.” He smirked before going into the now-released latest single, “Nothing Works.”

 

With other fun quips of the night like, “Thank you for bringing us so much energy. Energy is a finite resource ya know” and “Thank you guys so much for making us feel 1,000 feet tall up here. And we’re only getting huger baby,” while wearing a stolen cowboy hat from the crowd, made McKenna’s Gen Z energy clear. But his unique sound of inspired classic rock makes him an artist that anyone would enjoy seeing.

 

McKenna even shared more of this love for classic rock icons by performing a cover of George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass” as a part of his two-song encore, which showcased a beautiful song to an audience of people who may not have had the chance to listen to it before.

 

McKenna can connect generations with his music and bring a Beatles-loving father into the 21st century with a new take on these classic sounds, while reminding Gen Z of why good music will stand the test of time.

LouisTomlinson, HollyKite Photo, Saint Louis Music Park

Louis Tomlinson: From One Direction to Solo Sensation

STORY: Madisyn SIebert PHOTO: holly kite

Being one-fifth of one of the world’s most famous boy bands can be a hard task to live up to, but Louis Tomlinson strikes the right balance of separating himself while also knowing how to make those OG fans still feel seen.

 

Tomlinson was on tour at St. Louis Music Park on June 9 promoting his sophomore album, Faith in the Future, which is also the name of the tour. A tour pro from his One Direction days, Tomlinson knows the importance of putting on an entertaining show, from fireworks to cool graphics to owning the stage. Many artists have difficulty moving outside a five-foot radius from the middle of the stage, but this fear evidently does not exist for Tomlinson, as he traveled every inch of the stage engaging with fans the whole time.

 

Tomlinson opened his set with major anticipation from the crowd, starting with the first song on his sophomore album, "The Greatest", and continued the momentum with the first song off his debut album, Walls: “Kill My Mind.” These two choices clearly set the tone for the 23-song setlist.

 

He also brought a challenge to the crowd saying, “The last two shows have been fucking unbelievable, so pressure is on.” And let me tell you, this crowd did not let up; if anything, they only went harder, especially when Tomlinson performed “Night Changes” from his One Direction days.

 

The fans even lived up to the challenge by organizing a fan project during the song “Copy of a Copy of a Copy,” a Target limited edition album song. The fans passed out colored sheets by section to hold over their flashlights and light up St. Louis Music Park for the British singer.

Tomlinson carried on, bringing in fun elements like a more slowed-down section where he sang “Chicago” and “Saved by a Stranger.” He also performed a cover of Arctic Monkeys’ “505,” which showcased the grunge rock sound Tomlinson admires. He immediately switched gears to perform “Back to You,” one of his first singles after leaving the band and originally a duet with Bebe Rexha.

 

Tomlinson put on a constantly engaging show that was even enjoyed by boyfriends who were dragged out by their girlfriends, many of them dancing and trying to sing along, and I even caught some of them adding songs to their Spotify playlists.

 

As we neared the end of the show, Tomlinson took more time to address the crowd. “This is gonna be cliche,” he said, “but this is one of my best gigs.” The crowd cheered louder, and Tomlinson took a minute to take in the crowd. He quickly followed it back up with, “Enough of this sappy shit, we got about four more songs left, so give it everything you got!”

 

The crowd was up for the challenge again during the encore as Tomlinson performed “Saturdays,” “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” and finishing the set with “Silver Tongues.” The last chorus of “Silver Tongues” was met with dancing, screaming the lyrics and a surprise for the audience of confetti shooting out into the crowd.

 

Tomlinson is still overcoming the challenge of being one of the lesser-known members of One Direction, but if people would take the time to see his show, they would be amazed to see how much talent he truly possesses. He is not just an artist for young girls anymore, he is an artist for anyone constantly engaging and helping revive the pop-punk sound that tumblr 2014 fans miss dearly.

 

Give Louis Tomlinson a shot the next time you are looking to explore some new music. I promise you won’t regret it. 

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Late Nights in the Middle of March: Dreamland with the Glass Animals

STORY: Madisyn SIebert PHOTOS: Sean Rider

All of us born before the year 2000 remember the bulky home computer that lived in its own room in the house and all the troubles that came with it: dialing up the internet, downloads taking actual hours and the joyous noises the computer emitted as it did its best to keep up with the demand of running just one program.

 

Glass Animals imitated these memories on March 23 at The Factory with a display set up on stage projecting the screen and bulky frame of this computer and a dialogue box “downloading” the performance. The loading bar fluctuated from the time span of two days to minutes, before it finally loaded and the cursor opened the “new software”—the cue for the band to emerge from the side stage.

 

The band opened up its set with “Dreamland,” the album’s title track and conveniently its first song. The album dropped in 2020 and is still in high demand, especially considering the sold-out crowd at The Factory. People waited in line for nearly an hour to just get inside the venue and out of the rain. The fans were dedicated and that was easy to see.

 

We were immediately whisked away into the British band’s imaginary land, where the ‘90s lived on forever with the computer generating family pictures and videos displayed during “Youth,” and during the song “Tokyo Drifting” they generated an old-school car racing game. The set itself was decorated with a couple neon signs, a kiddie pool, a fake palm tree and a basketball hoop—things reminiscent of simpler days. Besides the props, the stage was outlined with two sets of lights that truly helped make the show a more immersive experience, drawing the audience in through the patterns

and colors.

 

The band had impeccable energy, going from one song to the next, feeding off of the crowd. Not many words were spoken by lead vocalist Dave Bayley when he wasn’t singing, but when he did speak, it was mostly praises of thanks and excitement. You could just see how much fun Bayley was having on stage throughout the show, dancing and engaging with the crowd by having them sing, clap and dance with him.

The band was also in on the fun, having fake ends to the songs just to get the crowd amped back up again when they would begin playing, and adding in new riffs and beats to existing songs that you will only be fortunate to hear live. You could just see how they were soaking up the energy of the crowd and then pouring it right back out to the mass of people in front of them.

Although we are closing in on the two-year anniversary of Dreamland’s release, it is still very easy to see the impact Glass Animals has made. “Heat Waves,” the album’s breakout single, made history when it reached the monumental achievement of being a chart topper for nearly 60 weeks in a row—and more than a year after its release! If you ask me, the entire album has recontextualized the band’s discography that came before it. Listening to Glass Animals' older songs live, it was almost difficult not to think about them within Dreamland. Songs like “Take A Slice,” “Season 2 Episode 3” and their ever-popular “Gooey” all now exist in the nostalgia-filled world the band has created.

 

Very rarely do we get the opportunity to find our nostalgia before it hits the past, but Glass Animals gave us something special here. Be sure to catch these guys live, or even just throw Dreamland on during a summer afternoon, because before you know it you’ll be thinking back to this time too.

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Unabashed Bilingual Indie Rockers:  
The Marías at Old Rock House

STORY & PHOTOS: Cory Weaver

Fronted by a mesmerizing, velvety smooth, bi-lingual singer, María Zardoya entrances crowds. Beguiling on-lookers with her effortless, sultry vocals while matched by stifling grooves–you’re immediately hooked… never mind that she was cascaded in a singular light with any and all lighting effects directed through her, penetrating the crowd—in a blood red corset.

Youthful Exuberance, Goofy Persona on Display with Dayglow at Delmar Hall

STORY: Madisyn SIebert PHOTOS: Cory Weaver

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I’ve never seen an artist light up a room like Dayglow, pun intended. The 22-year-old, Sloan Struble, radiates on stage with his dorky “dad” dance moves, truly embracing the motto dance like no one is watching. If you were lucky enough to snag a ticket to his show at Delmar Hall on October 29, you would know exactly what I am talking about. 

 

With lights perfectly beaming and setting the standard for the evening, it helped build the anticipation for Struble to dance his way on stage. Behind his band, all just as quirky as him, were huge letters spelling out DAYGLOW that lit up to the beats of the indie 80s-rock inspired music.

 

“This show is pretty nuts,” Struble said only after performing two songs, “One of the first shows I ever played was at this venue with my friend COIN. Full circle moment to be headlining sold out. We’re here to dance, so let’s dance.” He finished before transitioning into the song “Nicknames,” where he did break out the cowbell.

 

One thing that was immediately noted throughout his show, besides his amazingly wacky dance moves, was how amazing the lighting was for his show. We recently got to catch part of Dayglow’s set at ACL, and it was just as fun as Delmar Hall’s show, but one thing that made them incomparable was all the lighting effects he was able to do at his indoor set. Whoever his lighting guy is truly deserves a raise—all the effects were perfectly timed to his music and the colors of the lights really immersed you into his set.

Struble is also a man of many talents: he played piano, guitar (electric and acoustic) and sang throughout his show. He was constantly switching between the variety of instruments, and made them all look so easy, even just at the age of 22. He made it look like he was born on stage with how comfortable he was up there.

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One of my favorite points of the show was when Struble took time to address the crowd about change, saying, “Not too long ago I was in my dorm room and I released an album “Fuzzybrain.” I never thought it would bring me to St. Louis, but here I am, I have had so much change in the past years and music shows that change. When I was writing “Fuzzybrain” it time-stamped that change.” During a time in the world where there is nothing but change, it was great to hear in Struble’s own words how he has grown during this time to be where he is today.

 

Later during the show, we learned that Struble’s keyboardist is originally from Kirkwood and clued him in on a couple St. Louis favorites, engaging with the crowd by saying they were “Munching on some t-ravs” and smiling back at the audience with pure happiness on his face.

 

Struble’s setlist was almost his entire discography, which was absolutely amazing to see him give everyone all the songs they could possibly be craving to hear from him. He strategically set up his setlist to focus in on softer moments together, like in “December” and “Dear Friend” and by quickly bringing back the energy for the crowd with bangers like “False Direction” and “Listerine.”

After the encore, the band ended with a cover of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” and then “Run the World” to close out his show, keeping everyone amped till the chilly October air hit the crowd.

 

Struble is still so young and still has so much time to continue the growth that he acknowledged during his set. It keeps me excited for what will come in the future from him if he is already so good at the age of 22. Next time he’s in town he will only be bigger and better, so make sure to catch him whenever that is.

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