Seeing the Damnwells at the Firebird | St. Louis

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Alex Dezen

Anyone who knows me at all knows I’m not a big concert goer. I’ll only pay to see a band I’m really into, and sometimes, I won’t even do that. My husband is the total opposite.

He loves live music, and if a band he likes is coming through town, you can bet he’s going to their concert, even if he has to go alone. In this case, it was the Damnwells. You may or may not have heard of them. Their following isn’t huge, but they’re a bit of soft/folky rock. Believe it or not, they are a really great band.

I was introduced to the Damnwells by Mike about a year ago. He told me to listen to their song “Werewolves.” I did and it became a new favorite of mine. However, I couldn’t seem to get into their other songs. When he told me they were coming to the Lou for a tour of their new album, The Damnwells, I was uninspired. I knew that I should go with him, but it was a concert and I was not into it.

Fast forward to May 14th, 2015. It’s early and there I am sipping coffee and purchasing tickets from to see the Damnwells at the Firebird in Midtown. I had never been to the Firebird, but I knew it was standing room only based on reviews. Plus, it was a work day.

I bargained with Mike that we wouldn’t head out to the show until at least 8:30, after some of the opening acts had already played. I knew I was in for a late night and I didn’t want to spend all of it in a concert venue.

So after taking a short power nap and tidying the house, we headed out. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I can say I was pleasantly surprised.

The Firebird

The Firebird is easy to find and has free parking. That’s a rare plus in the Midtown area. There weren’t many people when we arrived, but little did we know the first band- The Cringe- was still playing. They scanned our tickets and put wristbands on us showing we were over 21. Some booth seating is available on the side, but I think you have to order something from the bar to sit there. There’s also a bit of seating against a back wall.

Halfway through the show, I had to use the bathroom. I have a real fear of concert venue bathrooms, and for good reason! They tend to be disgusting. The Firebird’s bathroom was clean! What a blessing! It was clean and smelled pleasant!

The Cringe

I had never heard of this band, and I caught just the tail end of their show, but they were okay. He was a good singer, but their stage presence was meh. I can’t blame them, as they were playing for pretty much… no one. I wouldn’t buy their cd, but I’d listen to them again if I had to at a concert.

Trapper Schoepp and the Shades

What an interesting, quirky band this was. We watched their whole set, and they were quite talented! They were just a bunch of hipster guys having a good time. Their stage presence was awesome and their songs unique. They wrote up some real doozies. I remember one being called “Mononucleosis.”

My favorite part of their set was when they invited someone from the crowd who could play bass guitar up to play a song with them. It was awesome, and the guy did such a great job. I enjoyed seeing their part of the show.

The Damnwells

Despite Alex Dezen drinking Wild Turkey straight from the bottle, he was a sharp, witty, and clever guy who kept the audience entertained. You could definitely tell he was from Brooklyn and thought St. Louis was full of country folk wearing jeans, tees, and tennis shoes. The sad thing is, he wasn’t wrong.

The Damnwells put on an excellent show. It made me respect their music more and I am now a super fan of their latest self-titled album, The Damnwells. I would go see them again, for sure. They are underrated for their talent, but they’re okay with that, I think. Unfortunately, the Firebird’s sound guy was doing a sucky job and the band struggled with all the static and reverb. Despite those odds, their performance was on key and on point. I was impressed.

They’ve definitely gained a new fan.

Bonus singer/songwriter: Mike Dunn

One of the best parts of the show was this guy who I originally thought was part of the band. His name is Mike Dunn and he just released his first album called Hard Luck Soft Rock. He told us he begged The Damnwells to let him tour with him and play one song a night. He’s a talented guy and I’m so glad we had the chance to hear him play. Listen to his music. He has an amazing voice. I recommend the song “If You Wanna Stay.”

HARD LUCK SOFT ROCK | MIKE DUNN (photo from his site)

This concert happened several months ago, and I’ve been working on this post since it happened. I couldn’t let it sit in my drafts forever. Go discover some amazing new music!

Tell me what you think!