CAVO / Reaul @ Cicero’s, St. Louis, MO

Words and pictures by Duane Clawson
If you were looking to let loose after a long day of figuring those pesky taxes, Cicero’s in St. Louis was the place to be on this Sunday night.  But as with any reward, there was a little work involved to get one in to this show.  CAVO came up with a crafty promotion to secure a spot at this intimate venue.  Ala Willy Wonka, buy the latest CAVO album and if you were lucky you would have found a golden ticket, which would put you up close and personal with the band.  CAVO, collectively, is Casey Walker (vocals/occasional guitar), Chad La Roy (drums/percussion), Brian Smith (bass), and Chris Hobbs (guitar).  Formed sometime around 2000, the band started out as a hobby.  Then the realization set in that the band had a good local following in St. Louis and had a shot at becoming something so much bigger.  As the members of CAVO were soon to find out, with all things that have the potential to be great, there are many setbacks along the way.

CAVO came back refreshed and strong in 2006 attempting another run at making a living by playing music.  Not quite yet.  In 2008, everything finally came together with the release of the Champagne EP, some dates opening up for Stone Temple Pilots, and some heavy airplay via 105.7 The Point.  CAVO was finally on their way.  2009 found the band recording the Bright Nights Dark Days album for Warner Bros., followed by a headlining tour in 2010.  Life on the road took its toll on the band and some restructuring was needed.  The first part of the rebuilding process began by leaving Warner Bros. and moving to Eleven Seven Music, which allowed the band a little more creative freedom.  The end result of all of this hard work and dedication is the previously reviewed album, Thick as Thieves.

The up and coming Reaul, a band based out of Indianapolis, Indiana, made their St. Louis debut by opening for CAVO.  Reaul sound is complimentary to CAVO’s with heavy guitars and catchy vocals.  This band broke out the good stuff right from the get go by covering U2’s “Vertigo”.  Reaul demonstrated their flexibility and songwriting abilities as frontman Rick Connell and guitarist Dave Kriebel took center stage and wooed a packed Cicero’s with the song “Moving On”.  The band rocked it’s hardest with the pedal to the metal rocker “Circle City Lights”.  Reaul is currently supporting CAVO on tour while finding time to return home to play some local shows.  You can find more on Reaul at their website.

As Reaul’s gear was being removed from Cicero’s small stage, a slow transformation was taking place.  High-backed wooden barstools and candelabras were being strategically placed about the stage.  Anticipation was building.  As the candles on stage burned softly, the members of CAVO were filing in through Cicero’s back door.  A recognizable face and surprise guest, St. Louis Cardinals third baseman David Freese, worked the intimate gathering of around 250 into a fever pitch while introducing CAVO.  CAVO took their places in this causal unplugged setting and remained that way for the first hour of their performance.  Covering acoustic versions of songs both old and new, CAVO held the attention of those fortunate few.  With some of the newer songs came stories of how the songs came to be.  One of the new songs, “California”, held special meaning for Casey as he attempted to relay the story of how the song was written shortly after his father passed away.  Casey composed himself nicely and performed a great version of this heartfelt song.  The band performed a few more songs unplugged and the candles were blown out and barstools removed.  CAVO then proceeded to give Cicero’s sound system a work out with the electric instruments that made them bona fide rock stars.

The band tore new songs such as the title track of the new album (“Thick as Thieves”) with well rehearsed precision.  CAVO slowed the electric portion of the show only once, with one of my personal favorites cuts from the latest album, “Southern Smile”.  The band left the dimly lit stage to towel off and swig their respective beverages before returning to play a now electrified version of the song that put them on the charts, “Champagne”.  Throughout this show the band gave one the feeling that they were truly thankful for the audience’s support of their work.  Not being typical rock stars, the members of CAVO stood by the exit and shook everyone’s hand as they were leaving and thanked them for coming to the show.  Big thanks go to Cicero’s, Corey Brewer and Jessica Ricci of Tenth Street Entertainment/Eleven Seven Music.  Photos of the show are below:

Contributed by Duane Clawson
CAVO / Reaul @ Cicero’s, St. Louis, MO CAVO / Reaul @ Cicero’s, St. Louis, MO Reviewed by Scott Rowe, Editor on April 26, 2012 Rating: 5
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