I arrived while Porcupines from LaCrosse, Wisconsin, were playing, one of my favorite bands I've recently discovered. One of my favorite songs, "Rooftops" from their 7" split with Metal Ghost, is a classic '80s glam and post-punk sounding song rife with power chords that thrash heavily beneath singer/songwriter Casey Virock's soaring Brian Ferry or Ian McCulloch-style vocals. He is in fact, inspired by Echo and the Bunnymen, Syd Barrett and Love and Rockets. After each song, the small crowd went wild with cheers and screams.
Their song "Evil Twin" featured chunky guitars, and psychedelic riffs beneath haunting, clear vocals and classic harmonies. Their last song had a real Love and Rockets vibe, but also glimmers of R.E.M. - murmuring of vocals, and shimmery drums. "Coming Down" was a dark, Joy Division quality song with Nick Cave-esque, narcotic sounding vocals prettily weaving through a downpour of down and dirty guitar and drums. Porcupine is an extraordinary heavy garage and post-punk with elements of Black Keys, which I highly recommend when they return February 24 at the 400 Bar.
Local band Machine 22 were off the rails from the moment they hit the stage. I was immediately struck by their Replacements and Soul Asylum-like wild energy. Their third song, "All We Are," was very fun, and the lead singer reminded me of seeing Dave Pirner in the early '90s. "Bittersweet Angel" was a "slower" (for them) power ballad with a Husker Du inspired heaviness. In between songs, Machine 22 lead Jack Swagger and bandmates/brothers Ben and Nick Pelowski riotously called out the crowd, cajoling them and riling them up into yelling and and singing along to something of a drinking song mostly made up of "heyyys" and balls-out fun. The crowd went wild over a song they performed from their EP that they "weren't planning on playing, but would because a fan insisted."
Machine 22 performed excellent anthemic punk rock with a rebellious fun stage presence on a par with the Goondas and the Japhies (who I learned they've performed with several times). They're a very talented band whose young members, including wildman drummer extraordinaire Karl Schmidt, show much promise and are catching the attention of local punk rock luminaries such as Riflesport's Todd Trainer and Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum. After their show, the Machine 22 band members excitedly told me about Dave Pirner recently joining them in their basement/practice space, jamming with them for at least a couple hours, how fun it was hanging out with him and playing with him. Later their manager also mentioned this, noting that Pirner told him he liked them and it was a really good time.
|Photos by Mike Minehart|
The Black Box Revelation is Brussels, Belgium duo Jan Paternoster (guitar/vocals) and Dries Van Dijck (drums). Barely in their 20s, they've played together since they were 13 and 11, respectively. Immediately upon hearing them they struck me as sounding both reminiscent of the Black Keys and Brian Jonestown Massacre with some White Stripes-like swamp blues and percussion and classic guitar rock riffs thrown in for good measure. Altogether the duo sound really big, dirty and jangly - fun garage rock. Their songwriting is at times humorous and dark, such as in a bittersweet heavy blues soaked ballad "We're together, so why don't we eat each other's hearts? My heart tastes bitter without yours." They dug into grungier territories with the ominous yet scintillating psych-garage rock song, "Shadowman." They brought the wildly cheering crowd back up with a full throttle rock attack replete with heavy feedback and jangly percussion on a Led Zeppelin sounding song, "High On a Wire."
Van Dijck, who noted to me he's strongly inspired by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, drummed, rattled and shook his tom toms in a loping, offbeat rhythm that made the audience crazy to clap their hands and shake their hips. "Sleep While Moving" was like a Neil Young tribute - I learned later, talking with them, they are very inspired by Neil Young - "I love his passion, he plays from his heart," said Van Dijck. (Later I asked Paternoster how to say "I love this music" in Flemish - he said something in Flemish that contained the words "Neil Young.") An epic sea shanty-like song transformed into an epic scorching torch ballad. The crowd of about 100 went wild to Paterson's piercing, wailing, Hendrix-like guitar. They also had a real BRMC vibe threaded throughout.
|Photo by Mike Minehart|
Paternoster and Van Dijck were a pleasure to talk to after the show. Their passion for music, especially classic rock is infectious. They came to the U.S. to record their third record and first U.S. release, Perception
, with Alain Johannes [Queens of the Stone Age, Chris Cornell, Them Crooked Vultures] in his L.A. home studio. They just finished performing a few shows with the Meat Puppets (where I saw them for the first time on Saturday at the Turf Club
). "They're so fun! We miss them already!" said Van Dijck.
After their first record, they were invited to, and toured with Eagles of Death Metal throughout Europe. While talking about that tour, both laughed and commented on how wild and fun and all over the place lead singer Jesse Hughes was. They've both got a great sense of humor and love to play with bands that do as well. While they arrived in Minneapolis after a 1,900 mile two-day drive, they still had a ton of energy and are excited for the next few shows in the Midwest before returning to the Entry on Monday, November 21 opening for Girl in a Coma. The Black Box Revelation are especially excited to open in the Mainroom for Beady Eye, the band of Liam Gallagher and three of his former Oasis bandmates.
|Photos by Mike Minehart|
Critic's Bias: I saw Porcupine a couple weeks ago, and Black Box Revelation a couple nights earlier, and really love how they're bringing the swamp blues/garage/psychedelic rock back to the forefront of indie-rock, with an infectious energy.
The Crowd: There were about 80 to 100 people ranging from young to mid-30s primarily. A down-to-earth crowd who were into dancing, getting wild and having a good time.
Overheard In The Crowd: "I like them. They sound like the Black Keys mixed with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club," said Reed Wilkerson of the Japhies.
Random Notebook Dump: Signs of a great show, musicians and tastemakers such as Joe Hastings, Chuck Statler, members of the Japhies, and G-Biz were in the house.