First Avenue Mainroom
Empress Of and her band from New York started off the night with cool beats, and great dance moves. She has a fantastic voice, with a natural tremolo, but robotic falsetto. Although coy, she seems honestly excited about the reception from the audience.
As the screen went up for the main act, the audience was plunged into a jungle, with rainforest noises and green stage lights on everything. As the band entered the stage, their music pulled us deeper into the rainforest. The lights in the backdrop looked like falling rain, or shooting stars. Even shy Minnesotans couldn’t resist the pull and nearly every body in the room was moving. I was struck by the beauty of this groovy electronic dance band’s music. The live band utilized four vocalists, often in unison, that sounded spot-on and gorgeous every minute of the set. The performance was flawless.
I’ve known The Ericksons’ music for years now, and I love their older folksy sound, but I’m delighted about the new direction of their latest album Bring Me Home. They’ve traded a guitar for a synthesizer and picked up the tempo with a drum pad, all the while their songwriting and characteristic voices have stayed true to their roots. My favorite songs of the night were “Animal” and “My Love”, both off Bring Me Home. The latter had a Regina Spektor-like vibe because of the strong vocals mixed with upbeat and quirky rhythms. Each song, new and old, was delivered with intention and heart, and kept the audience emotionally present throughout the set.It was clear that both sisters were incredibly thankful to be playing for an audience full of friends and supporters. They couldn’t stop thanking Greg Euclide for creating the artwork for the album and fellow local musician Molly Maher for encouraging them to finish the album. The audience was thankful as well, with people jumping up to give a standing ovation as soon as they could.
Although electronic and synth driven sets never seem to have the same “live” effect as more traditional guitar or piano based bands, Washed Out brought the night to life with feel good vibes. The set felt short and many songs were from their most recent album Paracosm. They definitely left the audience wanting more. Frontman Ernest Greene kept the energy high. Although many fans stuck with their contented head bob, others gathered the courage to let their dance moves fly. While I would have loved to hear more songs from their previous album Within and Without, the fun-loving energy from the band and the audience was impossible to resist and I found myself loving every minute.
I had high expectation for my second visit to the Fallout after my awesome experience last month. I should have known I wouldn’t be disappointed.
Unlike January’s americana acoustic atmosphere, this month’s showcase was filled with high energy and electronica influence. Oklahoma eased us into the night with their alt-rock tunes, hints of Ben Fold, Bright Eyes, and Death Cab for Cutie adding to the mosaic of sound.
Hippo Campus took the stage next, and WOW can they put on a show. With their catchy beats, finger-lickin’ good guitar licks, and personal stage presence, it didn’t take long to the the entire room dancing along, literally. In complete honesty I have not danced that hard at a show for months. I had this feeling that I was witnessing the cusp of greatness. These four guys are going big places, I’m excited to see where they end up.
Last but not least was Bora York. They fed off of Hippo Campus’ momentum keeping the energy high and the audience moving. Their performance of Let Loose, a new song not yet released, left me anxious for more.
There may have been some confusion finding this show, but once we arrived, it was clear we were in for a wonderful night of music.
The long, narrow room was lit by chandeliers and lamps. Each corner had a stack of vintage suitcases, new and old instruments, and live plants placed throughout. The pre-show jazz music played in the background as friends caught up, and musicians encouraged each other.
Ben Rosenbush started the night with a solo set. Well, plus a harmonizing pedal, so maybe that makes it a duet. Either way he didn’t need it, his storytelling and musicianship easily commanded the room of attentive listeners.
Joey Verskotzi was up next. His bluesy electric guitar and catchy tunes cranked up the energy a notch. He mixed the energy of the full band with the intimacy of a solo performance for a set I won’t forget. I’ll be looking for another chance to see Verskotzi perform live.
Fathom Lane closed up the night, complete with a young girl falling asleep next to the keyboard. And I have to admit by 11:45 I was sleepy too, but a good kind of sleepy. A very content sleepy.