A Night at 2720 Cherokee
April 6, 2012
Being back in St. Louis has been amazing. Throughout law school, I frequently visited St. Louis, but visiting is not the same as living somewhere. Since being back, I have been able to revisit some of my favorite haunts, as well as experience some new places that I just either never went to while in college, or have sprung up in the past few years.
One such place that I have newly experienced is 2720 Cherokee (I’ll let you guess the address). 2720 Cherokee is a 14,000 square foot art gallery and event space. The venue consists of three levels, the lower and upper levels being art galleries, and the middle level being the location of a stage and bar. Overall the setup is fantastic. The crowd wasn’t massive, but even with a large crowd I think it would have been easy enough to get around. In addition there were ample restrooms, which is a pet peeve of mine at a lot of bars and music venues.
As far as the art gallery goes, the art pieces themselves trended toward modern art. Being no connoisseurs of art, my friends and I agreed that the pieces were pretty hit or miss. I understand that everyone has different tastes and a lot of time went into the pieces, but a few of them were exceptionally poor. This is a problem that should be easily fixed in the future as long as 2720 gets continued exposure, and they judiciously decide which artists and works to display. I must admit that the Star Wars mural outside the back of the venue featuring Yoda, Darth Vader, and the Death Star was pretty impressive.
While it was great to check out all the art, what I really wanted to see was some live music. The band performing last Friday night was Smooth Money Gesture, a five-piece jam band based out of Nederland, Colorado. Smooth Money Gesture doesn’t exactly rewrite the book on jamming out with some electric guitar, bass, drums, and keys; instead choosing to fit snugly within expectations ascribed to the genre. The different members are featured from song to song, and unsurprisingly all the members showed good technical skill with their instruments.
The biggest problem for me with these types of bands is that sometimes the basic structure of a song can be lost in the shuffle in lieu of improvisation. My theory is that a tight, memorable song should come first, and improvisation can then build off of that. Instead, the song is sometimes utilitarian in pursuit of the jam, which frankly tends to bore me. There was a few times where Smooth Money Gesture lost my attention, but overall the tended to keep things fairly tight. I don’t know if they kept the jams a little less meandering because of the crowd (which was not exclusively “jam-bandy” or exclusively there to see the music for that matter) or because that’s how they always do it.
At their best, Smooth Money Gesture displayed some sunny song compositions, with songs such as “Do What You Gotta Do”. The organ and keys accenting of Pete Goldberg was especially welcome. At their worst, there were a few too many “face-melting solos” (which is included on their website in the description of the band), that were fine but nothing we haven’t heard before. I’m going to stay away from a rating for this show because I went just as much to hang out with my friends to socialize as to see music, and the band did not get my undivided attention.
At the end of the day, I highly recommend that anyone in St. Louis check out 2720 Cherokee for a show, or just to go to the art gallery. And who knows, you may be lucky enough to stumble upon the troupe of scantily clad, light-up hoola-hoop-wielding young ladies with their hair done akin to Noomi Rapace in The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (kind of, at least). This was intoxicatingly hot, and for that ladies, I thank you.