Delta Rae at the 7th Street Entry, 7/8/12
|Photo by Natalie Gallagher|
Delta Rae on Jay Leno, the South, and women who rock
Delta Rae with Chris Pureka and Glorious Misfortune
7th Street Entry, Minneapolis
Sunday, July 8, 2012
The sexy sextet that is Delta Rae of Durham, North Carolina, is, for some reason, not a venue sell-out. The band -- which national media (or, at least, Rolling Stone and Jay Leno) have been trumpeting of late -- played a headlining gig at the 7th Street Entry last night in support of their debut album Carry the Fire to a small crowd of fans who had probably only heard that one song somewhere along the line, who took their time getting into the music.
No matter. Delta Rae claimed the small stage with a ferocity that did nothing to contain the explosive four-part harmonies that is the band's trademark, put forth by lead singers Liz Hopkins and siblings Eric, Ian, and Brittany Holljes. The pipes on these folks are extraordinary, and their voices complement each other in a startling, almost unnatural way. Every song filled the room, and the band performed for the sparse audience like they were at a full stadium.
The band squeezed on stage, the four singers in front and drummer Mike McKee and bassist Grant Emerson tucked away behind them. Delta Rae's music is dynamic and a little dark, and nothing captures that better than the female vocals. Dressed in black, tight tops and spiky heels, Hopkins and the female Holljes certainly delivered on the moodiness captured in songs like "Fire," "Is There Anyone" and, of course, "Bottom Of The River."
On the critical side, one could say that the band was almost too rehearsed at times, like when the seriousness of the song was played up by the girls. But then again, what band with a four-part harmony won't sound rehearsed? If Delta Rae wants to incorporate some gospel-y gestures, let them. They are their own church choir, anyway. And they aren't afraid to break out of their comfort zone--literally, in the case of the song "Hey, Hey, Hey," where all six of them jumped off stage and entered the pit for an acoustic rendition of the song, surrounded by an enthusiastically clapping audience.
The band had a lot of winning moments last night. They introduced "Chain On Love" by mentioning that they had seen a sticker for marriage equality in the city, and it inspired them to play the song they had originally written when the vote for California's Prop 8 was taking place. They introduced nearly every song with a little backstory on it, thanked their openers sincerely, and were generally likeable. They even closed with a cover of Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain." The real treasure of the evening, though, was getting to see a band that is certainly destined for larger stages, and hearing them blast the roof off the Entry in a way that's uncommon these days.
Critic's bias: I went in with pretty high expectations after having stalked this band on YouTube for a few months.
The crowd: Young, and certainly not prepared for the massive sound Delta Rae came out with--but wise enough to appreciate it.
Overheard in the crowd: A lot of stunned stares as companions caught eyes between songs.
Random notebook dump: Openers the Glorious Misfortune and Chris Pureka pulled more than their own weight. Glorious Misfortune is another four-part harmony indie folk ensemble, based in Northfield, Minnesota. The raspy-voiced singer-songwriter Chris Pureka has her own following (the room was a little fuller for her set, between Glorious Misfortune and Delta Rae), and not for nothing.
Holding On To Good
Bottom Of The River
Hey Hey Hey
Chain On Love
Unlike Any Other - Liz Hopkins vocal solo
Forgive The Children We Once Were
What You Thinkin' 'Bout Babe
Burning In Carolina
Dance In the Graveyards
The Chain - Fleetwood Mac cover