Along with river otters and meth tweakers, Missouri is richly populated with a dazzling variety of garage-rock bands. And in a moving spectacle reminiscent of the big coronation scene in The Lion King, 14 of the wildest migrate to St. Louis this weekend for the Show-Me Blowout. This garage-rock festival was conceived by Jeff Kopp, the man behind Garagepunk.com and promoter of all things loud and decadent. Kopp trawled through hundreds of Missouri-based bands' MySpace pages to round out the two nights and one afternoon of the festival. But 14 bands in two days is still a lot to take in, so here's a field guide to the best of the baddest.
Home base: St. Louis
Who: In hibernation since spring 2005, the mighty Cripplers headline Friday night — a set that portends a Saturday full of hangovers and ringing ears.
Call: Overdriven, maxxed-out, sped-up, drunk (but not sloppy-drunk) rock and roll that's much better heard than described.
Prime nugget: Their 2001 debut on Dionysus, One More for the Bad Guys, is the holy scripture of the millennium's Show-Me scene, amen.
Home base: St. Louis.
Who: The brainchild of St. Louis DJ and evil clown Jeff Hess, the Geargrinders had been extinct since 1999. But Kopp hectored the band into re-forming to headline the second night of the blowout, accompanied by Jason Edge (husband of X's Exene Cervenka) of the Original Sinners.
Call: Spidery surf-guitar lines, psychedelic organ, chunky garage chordage, howling vocals, too much echo — if it's trashy and primitive, you'll hear it in at least one Geargrinders song.
Prime nugget: Nada since a 1998 EP and a few comp tracks from around the same time. But hopes are high for the re-formed band to get back into the studio — if one will have it.
Home base: Kansas City.
Who: Reports of frontman Jeremiah Kidwell's stage antics have prompted local authorities to put security forces on "pink alert."
Call: If the Ramones took the blues out of punk rock, the Pink Socks put it back in, with swampy riffs and the occasional harmonica honk.
Prime nugget: None yet, but Kidwell can be heard in fine fettle on We Told You Not To Cross Us ... (Crypt), the 1997 demi-classic by his old band, the Revelators.
The Rich Boys
Home base: Kansas City
Who: Punk mythology paints the early '70s as a wasteland, but the Rich Boys remember the protopunk and glam sounds of that dark age. Like a less wanky Spiders From Mars, a male version of the Runaways or a nonandrogynous New York Dolls, the Rich Boys bring all the satisfaction of Me Decade rock without the flab or fluff.
Call: Campy, catchy, streamlined.
Prime nugget: Its self-released 2007 disc, $, boasts 10 compressed FM-radio stormers.
Modern Primitives"I Maybe By Your Friend" (title approximated) by the Modern Primitives:
Home base: Joplin
Who: These lads are almost good enough to give hope for the future of the rock-and-roll youth of America. Are they breeding any more like this down in Joplin? And can they send a few our way?
Call: Snotty and lo-fi but soulful, catchy as Ebola and not afraid of a ballad. If ideological issues prevent you from enjoying the early Rolling Stones, here's your low-fat substitute.
Prime nugget: An EP called Really Jacqueline!, self-released this year.
If only space permitted an examination of the merits of the super-poppy 75s, the nihilistic Nevermores, the adorable Vultures, or the muddy Left Arm. Chances are, there won't be another garage-rock spectacular like this in St. Louis in our lifetimes. That's because next year it's going to be in Kansas City! Uh, right, Jeff?