A Small Room Shook - Four Bands, One Entry

It was a slow Saturday night at work. With the good grace of an early end to my shift I dashed as quickly as I could to the First Avenue website where I knew something groovy had to be going on. I checked and found a bill in the entry with the following bands: Aimless Theory, Blood Root Mother, Arrows at Dawn, and Eden. Knowing only two of those bands’ names I hopped in my Impala-mobile (why yes, that’s what I call it) and booked it to the venue. Just in time to catch the last half of Aimless theory, I enjoyed their enthusiastic stage presence, Santa Clause hatted guitarist, and eager crowd addresses.

The 5 piece group sounds like Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, and Korn got pregnant together and popped out this Minneapolis youthful gem (and named it with better spelling. Who knows, they could have gone with Aymlez Theory). Anyways... the group showed off some pretty tasteful guitar licks and a better than average drummer. Lead singer/rapper Gabriel Wacker bounced between punch-your-face rapping, pretty consistently single tone screams, and some intermittent singing. Second singer/rapper Josh easily moved from playing guitar and backing up some vocals to his own highlight rap moments. In between songs, the band transitioned effortlessly and addressed the crowd thoroughly.
To be honest, (well… this whole article is honest. But I mean this as a more, “don’t shoot me because I’m saying this” type thing) there were a few too many “How you guys doin’? What? I can’t hear you?!” moments. It’s always wonderful to see musicians who make the audience feel loved, but one can easily cross that thin line of annoyance. Besides that, and my personal distaste for rap rock, the group was great and seemed like good guys. They threw in a couple of covers that, although names unmemorable, were fun to see the audience light up in response.
They finished out their set and made quick to leave the stage for the other acts. Blood root mother began loading gear. After getting to know their tunes on facebook, I was ecstatic to see their set. The band boasts an accomplished array of five musicians who, when combined, provide a spectrum of sound encompassing elements of jazz-pop vocals, progressive rock breakdowns, and well-articulated song structures. Blood Root Mother seems like they could provide the world with the next big rock thing if they put the energy into it.
Their set began, and so did the awesomeness. The group started big and ended big, but had little through the middle to surprise the audience beyond their talent. The stage moves were passable, but nothing rockstar enthusiastic, and the interaction of members was decent. The harmonies... oh god the harmonies... were beautiful. This group provided the most amazing rendition of The Beetles’ Eleanor Rigby that the whole crowd was groovin’ to. I swear, my jaw dropped. It was so sick. The drummer and bassist were locked in through the whole hour set, and bassist Bob offered some magic with his red pedal board. I don’t know what he did, but it created the coolest layering of sounds in a live performance I’ve seen for a long time, and without a trigger to be even more impressive. The group is one I’d definitely see again, but desperately hope they take the initiative to push their music further than just occasional shows for fun.
Next up, Arrows at Dawn shook the stage. The four piece band including fill-in drummer, Adam Szcepaniak, came at the Entry with a forceful wall of sound. The group gave the audience the best taste of their music from what I could find on Facebook and tried hard to keep things fresh despite only working with 4 minds. As I’ve mentioned before, layering and textures in music are invaluable to me, and this is the only big thing the band lacked. Vocalist, Tim, offered some killer grit and actually pierced through the reverberating guitars. The songs were fairly stop and go with transitions, but were nevertheless tight in sound balance and structure. Adam the drummer stood in excitement as he played and some major head bobbing was seen throughout the audience.
Although the place wasn’t jammed, there was still enough of a crowd to make the small room seem full. To be honest, the group’s tunes ran together, a stark contrast from Blood Root Mother, and left me without something to take home and share. Like 7th Ascent, I’d say listen to the album, you won’t miss out since their live show didn’t have anything more than some pumped up excitement inherent with the stage, and their tunes.
Finally, the night was rounding to an end as Eden, the headliner, came to stage. With gear slightly shifted to get in place, and last adjustments made, the group left the stage just as quickly as they came on. What? As each member walked behind stage I realized, hey... That’s the same drummer from Arrows at Dawn. He’s playing two sets in a row?! He’s crazy. A sound began to boom the venue. An intro tape? Wow, I haven’t heard a band use one for a while. The group took their places one by one from behind stage. The band used two guitars, an exasperated drummer, a girl keyboardist (the only female performer of the night I noticed), and a bassist/lead singer.
As the intro tape rolled to an end, a weird noise took its place. Before I could realize, it enveloped the room as a rhythmic arpeggiator tone from the keyboard. The members exploded into the song, and with it, Christmas lights burst on to reveal the surprised audience. As the song went on, they switch them off and rocked the stage. Although I didn’t recognize many of their songs, I did notice their rendition of “Pure Imagination” as it was recently released online, and their debut single “The Man I Am” from Facebook. Drummer, Adam, again stood with excitement during some parts, and each member seemed to attempt to interact with the crowd and themselves.
It was tough to attach myself to show as I was more enthralled at the elastic neck of the keyboardist as she whipped her hair around. Was it almost... distracting? Were they trying too hard? They walked a very thin line. The same line Aimless Theory tiptoed. The songs went on and although I found some reminiscent of others, it was overall a decent event. Sound guy Joe did a fair job at keeping levels balanced, but I found a guitar solo or two muddled by all the sound, not to mention small intonation blips here and there from both wrong key notes and singing. The group ended with a bang and faded as one by one they left the stage.
Within a minute of an empty stage, an encore was being called for. They came around the corner again and took their stations. An indulgent two song encore took the audience by their ears and tossed them around in glee. In other words, it was pretty awesome. Finally, the band came to closure and bowed and hugged on stage to say goodbye to frontman Chris Clark after three years of the band. It seemed emotional, but the audience was just cheering. They bounded off the stage to the merch table and started grabbing people left and right to take photos and sign posters. I slipped out the door before falling victim to their friendliness and went home to consider the evening.
In short, good music is thriving in Minneapolis. Sometimes, you just have to take a chance on a show to truly appreciate this amazing underground music world.
PS: Click these links to check out Aimless Theory, Blood Root Mother, Arrows At Dawn, and Eden.  

Venue Entrance pic



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