Modern Life Is War, Sioux City Pete And The Beggars: Building R, St. Louis, Missouri, April 18th, 2008 By Kristen K

Jun 29, 2008

For a couple of months now I have been hearing about a new punk rock venue in St. Louis called Building R. I had yet to check it out and since Modern Life Is War was coming through on their last tour, I took that as my chance to check it out. The building sits pretty much on the Mississippi River in South St. Louis on a little dead end street that if you didn’t know to look for it you would never see. Okay, even if you’re looking for it, like I was, you may still miss it and drive half a mile down South Broadway before turning around. Once I found it, the street was lined on both sides with parked cars so I was pretty sure I found it, well, that and the punk rock dude standing at the corner.

Once I made my way down the long pothole-filled driveway I found myself in what looked very much like a large Gilman Street: a big brick warehouse space with a stage in the corner, lots of graffiti, and punk rock kids everywhere. Some differences, though, would be people walking around drinking Busch beer out of cans. Come on, this is St. Louis, folks, not Berkeley. And the best thing about this place, other than the fact that it exists at all, is the small, sketchy ditch ramp in the corner by the windows overlooking the majestic Mississippi river and gasoline holding tanks. I have to say this feature was my favorite part of Building R. At first, I wasn’t even going to skate, but after about five minutes I decided I had to get my board and take a “couple” of runs. Turned out I skated all night and I think, for a while, I was the only one skating. There were a total of five or six skaters pretty much blazing this little ramp, one of them being Jeff the singer of MLIW. I pretty much just rolled around, trying not to hang up on the tiny coping which I failed at and went straight to hip and knee.

The show went on in the other corner. I have to admit I didn’t really catch most of what was going on with the first few bands, what with my being distracted by the ramp. There were a couple of hardcore bands that played. The kids dug’em, I suppose. I did realize that one of the members was wearing a Uniform Choice hooded sweatshirt (I said hooded sweatshirt. He is a dude, so it’s not called a “hoodie”) that I had seen in the local outlet mall a week before and thought, “Wow, that’s a Uniform Choice hooded sweatshirt,” then proceeded to eat my Cinabon while hearing “Straight and Alert” in my head. Good times.

After the local bands, a crew of obviously not hardcore folks were on stage setting up: long hair, lots of black denim, and I think maybe a vest. Oh, and a hot chick. This was Sioux City Pete And The Beggars. It turned out they were on tour with MLIW and also from Iowa, but now live in Seattle, or so says their My Space page. At first, I was down with what they were doing in spite of not having a bass player, but two guitars instead. Normally, I hate that. But they played a familiar blues-style, slow, plodding punk rock. Also, I hate to say this, but most chicks who stand on stage with a guitar in their hands look as if someone just handed them a prop with which they didn’t know how to handle. This girl Lexi played it like she knew what she was doing and that was very refreshing. They played and then they played and then they played some more. It was that “played some more” that kind of lost me. But, overall, they did accomplish rocking.

After them, I took a few more runs on the ramp and waited for MLIW. I dig these guys and have seen them a couple of times. The first time was at another local non-bar punk rock room but the vibe there was way different. I didn’t once feel creeped out at Building R like I often do at the LempArtCenter or whatever it’s called. This time, they had way more room for the kids to go nuts and the 150+ kids did just that, too; lots of stage diving and mayhem. My buddy Shaun from the Humanoids told me later that, after the show, his knees were swollen and bruised. I’m guessing a lot of people left Building R in the same state. Now that I think of it, I left with a bruised knee and hip.

In the first couple of minutes of being there, I thought about how I wished there had been a place like that when I was a “kid.” Even though I’m sure plenty of people were confused or bummed or just curious as to why the old, balding, gray-bearded guy was there, I have to say I felt totally and completely more at home than I would at, say, some happy hour or something that is considered “age” appropriate. And, I guess, in another city I wouldn’t have been the only guy there in his 40s. I had a blast all the same. How can you go wrong: punk rock and skating? Frankly, you can’t.

If you’re a touring band out there headed toward the Midwest, you may want to check it out. I guess they changed it to the Oil Factory since the show, weird.