Date: Wednesday, July 13th, 2011
Line up: Mike Pinto, Dreadnot, ROTA & Down State
Location: The Firebird Lounge. Saint Louis, MO
Thunderstorms had passed over Saint Louis two hours before the doors opened at the Firebird Lounge. By 8:00pm the clouds were gone and only a slight breeze was brushing against the trees. There was a line at the door as I arrived. Amongst them were the fans and musicians trying to smoke their last cigarettes. Anxious attendees waited to gain or lose their drinking privileges in the form of a bothersome paper wristband or an obnoxious but distinct ‘X’ on both hands and surcharge.
As I walked in, I realized that it was a different crowd then I envisioned at a show of this caliber. Amongst the thirty or so fans in attendance while Down State plugged in their instruments, were some fans in their late teens, but I noticed a number of patrons in their late twenties, thirties, and even forties with a few outliers. With that being said a common sound throughout the night were the bottles either clashing against one another as they reached the trash can or a sudden ting as friends toasted to the night and to one another.
Down State began with a display of speedy basslines and bendy guitar solos dosed in reverb with a song titled Times Are Tough.The 3-piece set from Edwardsville, Illinois proved their musicianship to fans like me who had never heard of them before that night. After the first few songs, ladies began to gather towards the front of the stage, grooving, while the guys were too squeamish to join along this early on in the night. They performed a song as their set was running out titled Where the Ganja Grows, which was surely the highlight of their set. The bass line was the driving force of the song’s structure. As a small-time band I think they were able to enthusiastically connect with the energized audience as they really set the mood for the upcoming groups.
After talking with The Pier’s photographer, Neil Farewell, in between sets I learned that Rota would take the stage with the three original song writers instead of recruiting Colin O’Mara from Dreadnot to play the guitar. As they performed a song titled Lost In My Ways, my eyes began to glance over the audience only to notice a trio of eager fans at the front head-bobbing and doing their best to keep up with lead-singer Adam Belko’s style of singing and frantic tongue-rolling. Later in the set they interrupted mid-song with their own account of Lil’ Troy’s most popular single in the late 90’s. The fans recognized and began to drown out the music with their enthusiastic response as Adam began to sing “Wanna Be a balla, shock colla…”
By 9:50pm the stage was overtaken by Saint Louis’ own Dreadnot. Complete with a horns section, the group took up nearly the whole stage as fans were returning to their spots on the floor. In the final moments of silence, I could distinguish the anxiety and uneasiness in some of the musician’s faces. These worries were short-lived as the group started performing a song titled Make Way. Lead singer, Kevin Griffin, took a two-handed grip on the microphone and the bass line began to run for its life. If I were blindfolded during some of their set, I could have easily mistaken these guys for Slightly Stoopid. Griffin’s words flowed effortlessly and his voice had an edge to it that reminded me of one of the lead singers for Slightly Stoopid, particularly Miles.
It was a major up for Dreadnot to perform with a few brass instrumentalists–they were phenomenal. After the show I got to speak with their trumpeter and learned that he has played the trumpet for over forty years which almost was unsurprising to me. In songs such as Cruel World, the trumpeter and trombonist twist and turn to seal the vivacious rhythm with harmony.
After a few more songs they stepped down to grant the microphone to Mike Pinto and his crew. The trio picked up their instruments after a short set-up and the crowd began cheering. After a brief introduction, they broke into Drinking and Driving, hopefully not a problem for anyone at the night’s end. The jumble of songs he played all had different results on the ears of the crowd. As the show progressed, the crowd would form a circle dedicated to all the ladies overly eager to dance. Later these rings were replaced by mosh pits.
After they performed my personal favorite Temptation, Mike Pinto thanked the crowd for making their first ever appearance in Saint Louis a fun one. The Cool and the Deadly was a crowd favorite. Many members were not hesitant in showing off their abilities to whistle along. After picking up the acoustic for a few songs, Pinto whipped out a new song from their upcoming E.P.
At midnight, the trio finally stepped off the stage after a monster set. A few members of the opening bands even mentioned that Mike Pinto has an incredibly clean and well-rounded live set. It was another great Wednesday night for reggae music and it was an honor to finally see Mike Pinto Band live, in Saint Louis, MO.
– Article by: Matt Emodi
-Photos by: Neil Farewell