The Blind Shake rattle and roll at Grumpy's
Blind Shake photos by Ben Clark
Certain professions require nocturnal darkness: bat photographers, stargazers, prostitutes. But for too long the work of rock and roll musicians has been relegated to the midnight hour. Saturday's six-hour music fest at Grumpy's in downtown Minneapolis eschewed this stereotype--mostly because of the city's strict 10 p.m. amplified noise cutoff, but still. The outdoor festival proved the pale and impeccably coiffed spirit of rock and roll can survive daylight. And sure, the steady flow of $2 PBR probably lent a hand in this situation.
These alone would make the adults-only reverie a pleasant, if corporate fueled, afternoon. But local noisemakers like Private Dancer and Gay Witch Abortion had to go and make the vitamin D starved hipsters' sweaty experience even more worthwhile. The real purpose of the throng's attendance was to celebrate the release of Cold Town/Soft Zodiac, the new split record by locals the Blind Shake and Michael Yonkers. Yonkers, the atonality-glugging cult hero of high-tolerance noise fans, announced his retirement earlier this month after an on-and-off career dating back to the early '60s. Though his performance was sorely missed Saturday, Yonkers' presence nevertheless rendered its apparition in full force, largely due to his influence on the Blind Shake.
"If at first you don't understand a Yonkers song, wait 40 years, you'll come around," said the Blind Shake's Mike Blaha. "It's been a pleasure getting to know him, and we're lucky to get a chance to work with him. He keeps things very simple, and I think that has helped our own songwriting process."
If simplicity is Blaha's goal, he and his band mates have an odd way of approaching it. They layer repetitive guitar lines and drum beats, high-pitched bleats and dual vocals into three-minute-or-less flurries. Each piece is easy to digest, but together, the sonic blend forms a zeppelin armada, sneak attacking listeners and bashing their brains without remorse. In a good way.
And with the sun setting behind the stage and demonic red lights flashing from a helicopter in the sky, the show seemed like a perfect moment to usher in our robot overlords.
Openers Gay Witch Abortion. All photos by Ben Clark.