One might not expect to find much going on at the 7th St. Entry on a Thursday in the depths of winter, but there was more than just Ritmo Caliente spicing up First Avenue last night. The stylings of Lighted, Take Acre and Brute Heart brought a multitude of reasons to believe that avant rock is alive and well right here in the Twin Cities.
Openers Lighted pushed the envelope aurally, focusing primarily on a slowcore sound with plenty of Moog-ish flourishes. They were certainly not for the faint of heart; at certain points of the show I felt my soul shudder and wouldn't have been surprised to find my shadow emblazoned upon the wall behind me. It was impressive for a group who was making their debut live performance, and they were an excellent entrance into the nether sounds that would slowly cocoon the crowd during the course of the evening.
The tasty meat in this sonically stunning sandwich of bands was Take Acre, a group who was distinctly different from other two. Starting with a free-form jazz flow, the band built each song layer by layer, slowly reaching majestic crescendos of sound, only to once again become smooth and quiet after a reverse deconstruction of the previous build. Taking center stage amongst this four-piece was Charles Gillett's well timed and intricate precisions on lap steel guitar. The entire band was almost perfectly seamless as they careened from one heightened jam to the next in quite a phenomenal fashion.
Last on the bill for the evening was the headliner Brute Heart. Having personally tried to see them live (many a time) over the past few months, it was a great reward to finally be able to witness them perform in person. The first thing I forgot to take into account was the fact that such a full sounding band is created by a mere trio of women on viola/piano, bass, and drums. What on paper may sound sparse is actually a fluorescent display of sound that one rarely hears live. Focused more upon melody and reverb than the evening's predecessors, the band surprised us early in the set with a few newer tunes that were much in the vain of those on their debut album Brass Beads.
Aside from Jackie Beckey's striking viola, it is her intense and at times wolf-like howls, juxtaposed with the bassier tones of Crystal Myslajek's vocals, that keeps things a bit askew (in a good way). Take their eerie middle-eastern and at times hypnotizing delivery, then add in Crystal Brinkman's steady hands on drums and you've got a mysteriously colorful collection of tunes driven by experimentation.
In all it was a fantastic night filled with psychedelic flourishes, formless jazzy jams; a surreal glimpse into the Twin Cities avant garde scene.