This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 25, 2011 - After its successful debut both artistically and financially in 2010, LouFest returns to Forest Park this Saturday and Sunday with an intriguing lineup of national acts and up-and-coming St. Louis bands that should have indie music fans eagerly anticipating the coming weekend.
The Roots headline Saturday night, anchoring a two-stage lineup that opens with St. Louis' own Jon Hardy & the Public and Troubadour Dali, then builds to feature Sleepy Sun, Kings Go Forth, Dom, Surfer Blood and Deerhunter.
* The music will take place rain or shine.
* If you plan to buy tickets at the gate, you can use cash as well as credit cards.
* Children 10 and under are admitted free in the company of an adult.
* Do NOT bring flags, coolers, glass bottles, food, beverages (other than one sealed bottle of water up to one liter), laser pointers, oversize umbrellas, pets, professional recording equipment or cameras (NO cameras with detachable lenses) or weapons.
* Here's what you CAN bring: Blankets, digital cameras (non-professional), disposable cameras, film cameras (non-professional), fanny packs, sealed bottle of water (up to one liter), plastic or metal water bottle (must be empty), backpacks/satchels (medium-sized), strollers, folding chairs.
Transportation & Parking
Street parking can be found throughout Forest Park, and parking garages are just to the east in the Central West End neighborhood. There is also a Park-n-Ride lot next to the Forest Park-DeBaliviere MetroLink station. Metro bus service to the Festival is available from this location. For $20, Midwest Valet Parking is providing valet parking at the base of Central Field (corner of Wells & Mackland Dr.) that includes a cart ride to the front gate.
Ride the METRO
Train service is available to the Forest Park-DeBaliviere MetroLink station. Then jump on the Forest Park Trolley that drops you off right outside the Festival. Check MetroLink schedule and Forest Park Trolley schedule.
Have a bike? Use it! Free bike valet parking is available just outside the front entrance of the festival, compliments of Trailnet.
Sunday's area opening bands are Old Lights and Jumbling Towers, followed by UME, Lost in the trees, the Low anthem, Das Racist, !!! (Chk, Chk, Chk), Cat Power and headliner TV on the Radio.
Go to the end of the story for more info on each band and stage and performance times. Meanwhile, LouFest Director Brian Cohen gives an overview of this year's lineup and how it came together:
"We started working on the 2011 lineup for LouFest the week after last year's Fest," explains Cohen during a recent phone conversation. "The lineup is always our first priority, and we really think we've come up with a bigger, bolder lineup for this year. We have some strong, recognizable acts, but have also mixed in bands that may not be as familiar to some fans, but that will create a real sense of discovery with their performances. And we always want to feature strong St. Louis bands as well."
This year's lineup also gets a strong endorsement from Anthony Spina, Market Agent for Pabst Brewing. Spina will be in St. Louis to coordinate Pabst sponsorship of the ?uestlove After Party at Gramophone on Aug. 27.
The St. Louis native - now working in Chicago - said, "I'm really impressed by the curation of the lineup this year. They're bringing in some of the freshest up-and-coming acts from across the country and fusing them with some serious heavy-hitters, all while representing STL with some of the most legit local acts. Also, the price point on the tickets is an exceptional deal. Under $75 for a two-day festival with The Roots, TV on the Radio, Das Racist, Deerhunter, Hold Steady, Dom, etc.? That's amazing!"
In addition to the impressive music lineup, other new and interesting components are part of this year's LouFest. One is a social media area called Chatterbox; another is food (Whole Foods Market will provide fresh produce) and drink (Schafly Brewery will host a beer garden).
"The Chatterbox will have Wi-Fi access and charging stations, so it will be a central place for people to connect with their friends," explains Cohen. "And like the Schafly Beer Garden and Whole Foods, it will be located between the two stages, so everything will be easy to access."
Area K, the children's space, has been expanded to include activities presented by the Magic House, the Missouri Botanical Garden, the Science Center, the Art Museum and Fazio's Rock Academy.
"There's even a stage in Area K this year," adds Cohen. "We had a high school Battle of the Bands competition earlier this year, and the six winners will be playing on that stage."
Cohen noted that both the Retail Scene and the Nosh Pit had been reconfigured and rethought for this year's LouFest.
"We've definitely remodeled the retail area from last year and added interesting vendors," he states. "And the Nosh Pit has some great food from Pappy's Smokehouse, pizza from Pi and lots of vegan and vegetarian options."
Finally, the two stages at LouFest have been repositioned. Cohen cites traffic flow and sound concerns with that decision.
"We definitely shifted some things around to improve traffic flow, and part of that also involved some sound issues with the stage locations," says Cohen. "We needed to address the noise that filters out of the Forest Park to nearby residential areas, and we think we've solved that by relocating the stages -- and doing it in a way that makes it easier for those attending to see everything at LouFest more easily."
Here's a quick overview of the 2011 LouFest schedule of bands - with comments by Anthony Spina and Brian Cohen on specific bands.
Jon Hardy & The Public : Blue Stage - Noon
St. Louis-based band made a strong debut with the 2007 release, "Working In Love," and the group recently recorded covers of four Randy Newman songs. A band that can combine covers of Springsteen and originals and make it work.
Troubadour Dali : Orange Stage - 1 p.m.
Another St. Louis band that's received plenty of acclaim for its most recent CD, "Let's make it Right." Winner of the 2010 RFT "Best Indie band" category. A psychedelic-rock vibe that will grab you live even more strongly than on recordings.
Sleepy Sun : Blue Stage - 2 p.m.
San Francisco-based band that carries the torch for the '60s blues/psych vibe of classic SF bands - but definitely brings a stamp of originality and flair that makes the music on recordings like 2010's "fever" original and exciting. Recommended.
Kings Go Forth : Orange Stage - 3 p.m.
Milwaukee band dedicated to reviving the funk of the '70s - with an emphasis on classic, soulful harmonies. A big sound from this 10-piece band - complete with horns and three vocalists. Should be layin' down some strong, dance grooves live.
Dom : Blue Stage - 4 p.m.
You can't hate to listen to Dom. Dom's mix of dreamy guitar pop with lazily epic hooks is a formula for total likability. It's the perfect back-to-school soundtrack - sun soaked, kinda hungover and living forever from the night before. After four months of playing together, Dom was given "Rising" status by Pitchfork, which helped nurture a solid fan base. Both of the band's EPs received 8s on Pitchfork as well. I have a feeling we haven't heard the last from Dom - if they can wake up in time. (Anthony Spina)
Surfer Blood : Orange Stage - 5 p.m.
Surfer Blood were considered by many the "Breakout band of CMJ in 2009" after playing 13 shows in seven days. Their first single, "Swim," was a standout and garnered a solid amount of attention for the band. Their sound is a fun mix of '90s indie rock revival and upbeat guitar rock. These guys put on a great live show, definitely worth checking out. (Anthony Spina)
The Hold Steady : Blue Stage - 6 p.m.
New York City-based band have been around for a decade, but the roots of the band are in Minneapolis - and the sound of groups like the Replacements. 2004 debut CD "Almost Killed Me" set a high standard, and the band has turned to more of a guitar-based sound with 2010's "Heaven is Everywhere." As Brian Cohen notes, "This is a band that has a more traditional indie approach that should really appeal to St. Louis fans."
Deerhunter : Orange Stage - 7 p.m.
Deerhunter has been around for almost over a decade and is still going strong. Front man Bradford Cox could arguably be one of the most recognizable faces in indie rock today. Boxing Deerhunter into some fabricated genre style would be doing gross injustice to the group. They are exceptional live and will be a guaranteed crowd pleaser at this year's fest. (Anthony Spina)
The Roots : Blue Stage - 8:30 p.m.
This Philly band has been setting the bar at a high level for live rap and hip-hop since the late 1980s, when rapper Black Thought and drummer ?uestlove first started working together on the Philly and NYC scene. The band has played everywhere from Lollapalooza to Switzerland's Montreux Jazz Festival, blowing away audiences at every stop. The group has gained huge awareness recently as the house band for "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon." This closing LouFest set should be truly memorable.
Old Lights : Blue Stage - noon
The group was named "Best New Band' by the RFT in 2009, and the band has followed up on that promise with the release of the recording, "Like Strangers." An interesting mix of Alt-rock vibes and old school acoustic influences.
Jumbling Towers : Orange Stage - 1 p.m.
Another St. Louis indie rock fave, Jumbling Towers released "Kanetown City Rips" in 2010, after a three-year break from the band's self-titled debut recording. The most recent CD features an interesting mix of rock and rap, disco and hip-hop.
Ume : Blue Stage - 2 p.m.
This Austin, Texas, trio has a new release, "Phantoms," set to hit on Aug. 30, right after LouFest. They've been compared in terms of energy and dynamics with major names like Sonic Youth, and lead vocalist Lauren Larson shreds on guitar. This should definitely be worth a listen.
Lost In the Trees : Orange Stage - 3 p.m.
A North Carolina group that takes an orchestral approach under the direction of singer/guitarist Ari Picker. This is a big group, featuring plenty of strings and lush orchestrations - in the vein of Sufjan Stevens. This is going to be one very eclectic and interest set. "I'm looking forward to this," adds Cohen. "There's going to be a LOT of people on stage!"
The Low Anthem : Blue Stage - 4 p.m.
Formed in 2006 in Providence, R.I., the Low Anthem features the music of Ben Knox Miller and Jeff Prystowsky, who both studied classical composition at Brown University. The group signed to the Nonesuch label and released "Oh My God, Charlie Darwin" in 2009, blending disparate styles from gospel, folk and country and adding strong vocal harmonies. The band's most recent release, this year's "Smart Flesh," is even better.
Das Racist : Orange Stage - 5 p.m.
Is Das Racist the future of hip-hop? Good question, and you're not the only one asking it. Hailing from Brooklyn, Das Racist blew up on the interwebs with their goofy 2008 track "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell." The two mixtapes they released in 2010, "Shut Up, Dude" and "Sit Down, Man" solidified that this was no joke rap. Das Racist is set to drop its debut LP, "Relax," on Sept. 13; and LouFest is stop number three on the supporting tour. In the fragmented and confused current state of hip-hop, Das Racist fills the void of next-level group. I would give this set my pick of the fest and would highly suggest attending.
!!! (Chk Chk Chk) : Blue Stage - 6 p.m.
!!! (Chk Chk Chk) is awesome, upbeat and always a good time. Its live show is definitely one not to miss. (Anthony Spina) "This set should have everyone up dancing and celebrating," adds Cohen.
Cat Power : Orange Stage - 7 p.m.
I was surprised to see Cat Power on the bill for this festival. Big ups to the organizers! Cat Power is one of those artists who will come and go from the spotlight, yet it feels like she never left. Marshall's voice is distant yet engaging, a perfect combination for a live performance. Who knows when she will be coming back to St. Louis, so definitely worth checking out.
TV On the Radio : Blue Stage: 8:30 p.m.
Although this Brooklyn, N.Y., band has been around since 2003, the group went on hiatus after the release of "Dear Science" in 2008. But it reunited to record "Nine Types of Light" earlier this year - and has really exploded since, gaining major critical acclaim and a string of festival and concert dates including an appearance on "Austin City Limits." Cohen adds, "This band is really at the top of its game. We were lucky enough to get them booked early and have them as a headliner this year."
Terry Perkins is a freelance writer who covers music.