Words by jenkins
Photos by BeeZnutZ
Video by jenkins/BeeZnutZ (as noted)
Two things happened on June 24th, 2011: Not only did Dirtfoot and Treehouse perform to a relatively small (but energized!) crowd at 2720 Cherokee, but I also had the pleasure of meeting the other St Louis members of the Concert Confessions family (Bradley Darby and BeeZnutZ). All three of us at one place nearly rendered a tear in the fabric of space/time itself.
Not only was this my first Dirtfoot experience, but this was also my first time at 2720 Cherokee. 2720 is an interesting – and perhaps kind of unusual – place to catch a concert. Proof that there is truth in advertising, 2720 Cherokee is located at 2720 Cherokee Street. Located in a part of the city that most believe is a less than desirable place to spend a Friday night (on the “state streets”), more than one person warned me in advance that I should be careful, or that I would be “Mugged, murdered, and raped – in that order” (thanks dad!). All of these things are, naturally, a gross exaggeration of the truth. I will certainly concur that Cherokee Street is maybe not the best St Louis has to offer, but it is absolutely not the ghetto death trap that some would have you believe.
Part art gallery, part bar, and part concert venue, 2720 is kind of a quirky building. I did not check out the art gallery portion of the building (to be honest, I couldn’t even really tell if it was open or not), but the concert room felt a lot like seeing a concert in the big open kind of room that some schools teach art or shop classes in. The room is mostly a big open floor in front of the stage, with some couches and bar tables lining the perimeter, and a bar at the very back of the room. One of the things I really liked about this room was that there was very little dividing the band and the stage from the crowd. There were no major barriers, and the stage was not raised especially high off the floor. This setup worked really well in terms of the band being able to keep the crowd involved and engaged. Also, as far as I know, this is the only concert venue in the world with a recreation of the battle of hoth from Star Wars hanging over the bar, made from replica Star Wars vehicles and toys. The nerd in me thought this was awesome.
On to the show. Doors opened at 8 for a show that started at 9. Unsure of the layout of the room or how many people to expect, my wife and I made it a point to get there fairly early. We arrived at more or less 8:15, right in the middle of the Dirtfoot sound check, and sat near the bar in the back of the room while they warmed up.
Treehouse took the stage at or around 9PM. Treehouse is a local St Louis band – according to what they said at the show, this was only their fourth gig playing together. A blend of rock / classic rock / singer-songwriter, there are a lot of different artists behind the Treehouse sound. I could definitely hear influences from all kinds of different bands/songwriters – from Led Zeppelin to Dave Matthews/John Mayer, and maybe even at times a little bit of U2. Considering that they are still relatively in their infancy as a band, they sounded great. I don’t really know any of their backgrounds, but the band members all sounded like skilled musicians, they played well with each other, and they seemed to have already established good on-stage chemistry together. I was surprised to hear that this was only gig number four as I would have guessed that Treehouse had played together for much longer than that.
They played a set of mostly original songs with a few cover songs thrown in for good measure – the covers being Hey Joe and Crossroads. I was not too into the Hey Joe cover – but that has more to do with me and less to do with the band, I just don’t like that song. On the other hand, the Crossroads cover smoked, it was definitely a highlight of the set for me.
I unfortunately do not have the full Treehouse setlist, but I did manage to capture several of the songs on video. A few highlights are here, but links to all of the videos can be found at the end the review. Apologies for the sound quality – the crowd around me was chatty as shit for most of the set.
Just Like Me:
As I mentioned before, this was my first time seeing Dirtfoot, and I really only knew one song – Cast My Plans – from a groovable feast youtube video shared by mister Darby earlier in the year. I watched the shit out of that video, but for whatever reason didn’t really get a chance to sit down and check out any other songs. I had no idea what to expect, but based on what I had heard from my fellow confessors, I figured they would not disappoint.
I’m going to be honest. If I were a record label or venue manager and someone came to me and said “Hey I know of this great band called Dirtfoot. They play… well, they play front porch, whiskey swillin, foot stomping, gypsy, punk, country, grumble, boogie. There’s guitar, bass, sax, banjo, and percussion – oh, and one of the percussion players has big metal trash cans and pots and pans he plays!”, I would probably tell you to get out of my office with that crazy hillbilly shit.
In retrospect, that crazy hillbilly shit was the best $10 I’ve spent in months.
The crowd wasn’t huge this night, but it sure felt to me like we packed a big punch. Dirtfoot played a solid set of tunes to a group of people that were definitely excited to be there. Dirtfoot’s set was more or less two hours of grooving and shaking that even the groove-and-shake impaired can get down with. I am not a dancer. Ever. I only danced at my wedding because I had to. Needless to say, shaking bean cans along to the music with a room full of people is way outside of my comfort zone, but this night with this band and this crowd, it was a blast. My wife will admit that she was not so psyched up front – she was really only going because I wanted to go. What she may not admit (but I will gladly admit for her) is that since the show I occasionally catch her humming along to Cast My Plans or No Good Man.
I am not as familiar with their catalogue as I should be, and I truly enjoyed every song they played – between those two things it’s really hard for me to pick out highlights from the night. Nonetheless, here are just a few of the songs that I really recall as being exceptional:
Rest My Head:
No Good Man (video by BeeZnutZ):
Cast My Plans:
Underwater Turtle (video by BeeZnutZ):
Rest My Head, No Good Man, and Cast My Plans are all great songs, and Underwater Turtle is a couple of solid minutes of concentrated insanity, including metal trashcans and a hand cranked siren. There were a couple of other things that were standouts for me, but unfortunately I don’t have recordings of either at this point. The first is the song “Back of a Stranger” – this stuck with me enough that I went to track the song down on the internet the day after the show. The second is the post-encore percussion jam. After the band finished the encore, various members of the band came back out and rocked a drum/percussion jam, including the full drum kit, metal trashcan and hand crank siren, marimbas, pots and pans, and beating the upright bass strings with a drum stick. I really wish I had enough room left on the memory card to get a video of this, as watching these guys just jam and play and beat stuff for a good long time was really enjoyable.
All of these musicians are talented and good at what they do, but when they come together like Voltron to form Dirtfoot, the whole is greater than the sum of all its parts. Unique sound, talented musicians, and a “fun factor” that’s hard to measure.
On top of it all? Since this was my first Dirtfoot concert experience, they let me keep the bean can shakers. You can’t ask for anything more.
Dirtfoot (Set Incomplete):
Gonna Get Ya
Rest My Head
No Good Man (jenkins BeeZnutZ)
Devoted Mama (jenkins 1 jenkins2 BeeZnutZ)
Pullin Up The Stakes
Time To Be Your Friend Now
Cast My Plans
Heroin (jenkins BeeZnutZ)
Back of a Stranger
Fallin’ In Love (BeeZnutZ)
Underwater Turtle (BeeZnutZ)