Soviettes take gold, finish strong in reunion show marathon

Categories: Concert Review
Photos by Steve Cohen
The big sharpied sign taped to the door of the Turf Club said it all: "SOLD OUT." Four bands, each featuring members of the headlining revolutionary pop legends The Soviettes, drawing people from every corner of the Twin Cities to pack the Turf Club and celebrate The Soviettes' temporary return to life with copious beers, sweat, dancing, and even more punk rock. Whether there to record the event--there were photographers, tapers, and even a couple sketch artists (yes! sketch artists) cementing this moment into history--or just party, there was a joy in the room, as if everyone there knew just how special this night was.

Photo by Steve Cohen
Awesome Snakes

Awesome Snakes had just started playing as I squeezed my way into a halfway decent spot to watch in the crowded room. For them, a final show meant no change from the theatrical fun that being an Awesome Snake and singing about snakes being awesome is all about. Annie Sparrows and Danny Henry have been serving up these tunes since they formed in the late Soviettes era, and their good-bye was just as slaphappy as their hello. Maybe the smiles were a bit wryer this last time around, the gym class whistles sounding just a touch mournful, but everything else was 100% fun, down to their cover of "You Got Another Thing Coming."

That's Incredible hail from a mythical land full of castles and pink ice cream and warehouses full of unlikely but amazing punk bands called San Pedro, California. Pedro is home to time-honored kings The Minutemen and newer upstart revolutionaries Toys That Kill, so it's no surprise Soviettes bassist Susy Sharp would find an adopted home there as well as a chance to form a new band. Splitting vocal duties with guitarist Sean Cole (also of Toys That Kill), Susy and the rest of That's Incredible laid down quick, punchy, catchy punk songs with ever-so-slightly weird melodic twists, which is about as close to a San Pedro style as anyone's going to nail down.

Photo by Steve Cohen

Besides Maren Macosko, the Gateway District feature members of such '90s/'00s bands as the Salteens and Rivethead, and more current bands Banner Pilot and Dear Landlord, all of whom honed their craft via basement shows rather than managers and scene making. Their Myspace lists their influences as "box wine on the rocks and warm tall boys," and there's no better way to describe their brand of no-give-a-shit pop. Although they rarely play, plenty of that old, gritty magic was still there, as they punched out a flawless set punctuated by Maren's slightly mournful tenor and bass player Carrie T's hip-shaking howl, delivered with a laugh and a smile. As the crowd bouncing joyfully at the front of the room, kids rushing to the front to sing along, I was struck that this band of veterans, even with infrequent shows and a single record, were generating a level of excitement that plenty of bands that play every week couldn't dream of doing.

Photo by Steve Cohen
Photo by Steve Cohen

By the time the Soviettes took the stage, the four members had played a total of 13 sets in 36 hours, but that didn't seem to phase them a bit. Their opening song (and one of their oldest), "T.C.C.P.," wiped away five long years since their last show in a matter of seconds, as they relentlessly drove through over a hour of songs from their entire history as a band, a seamless blend of straightforward political punk, 7'0s rockers, and wry love songs, all run down at a coffee-addled pace that showed no sign of letting up, no matter how much time on stage they'd all spent. Guitars went out of tune, drumsticks broke, throats got just a little sore, but Annie, Danny, Maren, and Susy refused to back down, making sure that for their last hurrah as Soviettes they packed a decade's worth of fun and joy into a single set.

See more photos by Steve Cohen in our slideshow.

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