Birthday Suits high-kick their second record off in style at the Turf Club

Categories: Concert Review
Photos by Adam Bubolz
It's been five years since Cherry Blue, the first record by two-piece Birthday Suits, came out. Since then they've logged thousands of miles of touring, blowing audiences away with their ADD, swinging-from-the rafters live show and noisy yet hook-laden songs. Saturday night, they celebrated the release of their sophomore record Minnesota: The Mouth to Mouth with a host of other excellent local bands, and there was no doubt that everyone there was in for an experience. Brash and unpredictable were the watchwords of the evening, and I wasn't going to miss a moment.

Photo by Adam Bubolz
Leisure Birds
As I walked in the door, Leisure Birds had just begun their set, and I was excited to see them play for the first time in a while. There are many bands in town these days reviving psychedelic style, but none quite so firmly rooted in the garage sound that Leisure Birds have perfected--unafraid to wear their influences on their sleeve, down to the Canned Heat cover that rumbled forth from the PA. Simple, tightly crafted songs with the reverb so thick that it almost seemed like the music was out of sync with the band on stage, like a live version of watching a You Tube video on your neighbor's stolen wireless internet. In other words, psychedelic fans, they were absolutely phenomenal, a wall of otherworldly sound that took up much more space than the Turf Club stage would seem to hold.

Photo by Adam Bubolz
The Dynamiters
Dynamiters took the stage next, a seamless blend of smart hooks and garage swagger that storms forward while still dropping hints of the band's esteemable pedigree. Playing the "former members of" game is a waste of time--every band on this bill featured members of other, equally respected local acts--but Nate Grumdahl's and Brian Shuey's distinctive guitars mark everything they touch with a distinctive, individualized signature, while you could break your teeth trying to bite Dave Gardner's bass, marching lockstep with Jeff Brown's complimentary drumming. Such strong onstage personalities could drown each other out, but the Dynamiters manage that tightwire act to make an impressive total package.

It never ceases to amaze me how Chooglin' can play some of the tiny-staged venues they do with their 8 piece guitar and horns garage soul rumble, but I'm pretty sure their throwback wall of sound style would fill any stage, no matter how big. In any case, they certainly brought their big guitars, their brass, and their tight rhythm to full bore at this show. I've always associated Chooglin with big old high-tempo boogie party rock but they whipped out plenty of soul as well, playing more than a few slower, side two of a dusty piece of vinyl jams full of heft and grit--more Funhouse than Raw Power, and that's just fine with me.

Photos by Adam Bubolz
Birthday Suits
Throughout it all, though, this night was predetermined--it was always going to belong to Birthday Suits. Maybe they filled their record release show with so many other great bands because they wanted to have an all-night party, but in my mind, I think that Hideo and Matthew like to have other bands set the bar high, because it just inspires them to go higher. Reckless abandon is always more fun when you push it further than anyone could imagine it going, and that is Birthday Suits' bread and butter. Birthday Suit's don't make rock songs so much as they make ear-catching opportunities for moments of unimaginable physical and aural extremity, like Matthew playing his drums with his hands harder than most play with sticks or Hideo's five high kicks in a row (beating his former personal best of four). It's sometimes hard to rectify Hideo's dervish-whirling spins and Matthew's Keith Moon-meets-Animal style drumming with songs that you won't stop humming all weekend, but the hooks are there to keep you bouncing well past Hump Day.

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