When I start talking with someone about St. Louis most conversations end up talking about the weather at some point. Some reoccurring phrases include if you move away you’ll miss it, if you live here you’ll get use to it, and if you’re not from here you’ll hate it. The Missouri Humidity is mostly responsible for the love hate relationship most have with living here. When you put on a show in the summer in a venue with no central cooling you’re going to talk about the weather more than once. On August 12, 2016 with indoor temperatures reaching 200 degrees ( give or take a few degrees) Chris Bauer and friends hosted the fourth installment of the now becoming well known secret show. If you weren’t able to attend and want the full sweaty run down keep reading. If you were there and just want to look at the pictures in your air conditioning recovering from the show that’s fine too.
For those who need to know why it’s called a secret show you might be looking for an answer that doesn’t exist. Or simply put it’s not a secret at all. The way word of mouth works determines how secret the shows are. And with turn outs of 100 or more people at each show the secrets out. Those who come to the show know that there’s no better feeling than what comes out of a secret show. The genuine love that comes together to make these shows happen is an amazing thing, and when the shows over, everyone knows the next one is just around the corner. There are no promoters no street marketing teams no real Facebook page, but the knowledge of the event spreads like wild fire once it’s been announced.
The secret shows origin happens at the spark of creativity. Someone comes to Chris with a great idea for a show and the collaboration of the unexpected Midwest culture is born. For Secret Show #4 the idea was a benefit show for another show or festival called Pu Fest. Pu Fest is an all weekend festival being put on at Blankspace in an ironic response to the well-known Lou Fest. There has been some talk about the famed festival that takes place in Forrest Park this year being lame and lacking in the interests of a lot of local St. Louisans. So the locals have taken matters into their own hands and created a festival full of local and national talent. In fact I’m not sure that any St. Louis band has been left out. The line-up of Pu Fest is about 3 pages long, and to get a Festival that booked off the ground, the creators of the festival reached out to Chris about being the host of a benefit show for the festival. It was a great idea with great execution.
The secret space was jam packed with creative minds. There were DIY vendors and creative zines, a bake sale full of delicious treats and a table set up with prints from varying local artists. Quality art by quality people who somehow one way or another know someone who knows someone who knows Chris Bauer. Thanks to Facebook I’m sure everyone there had at least one mutual friend on their page.
When we arrived a little after 6 we thought that surely once the sun went down that it would start to cool off, we were wrong. The Lemp Brewery is basically a human oven. From the roof to the floor everything absorbs and radiates heat. Add in a couple hundred people and you have the makings of a human shepherds pie. Ok that was kind of a gross analogy but you get the picture. It was hot. But the blood sweat and tears were all ignored once the beer was iced down and the sound guy showed up to pump out some tuneage. As the do it yourself-ers worked away at setting up their booths, people started rolling in to see what was happening. The word of mouth gets people there but most have no idea who, what, or even why it happens. But once they are there they are glad they came, familiar faces, new faces, but all faces that are genuinely happy to see you there.
The secret show is achieving what it set out to do. Entertain and enlighten those who dare venture into this uncharted territory. Those who seek the true grit of the creative process will find it at these shows. Collectors will one day speak of the posters they purchased or the zine they traded for a button. Grandparents will tell their children of the nights they sweated at the Lemp Brewery Secret Shows. We will all tell the stories. I hope this isn’t the only one.