The Current's 8th Birthday Party, Night One, 1/18/13

Fancy Ray, who was serving as the unofficial MC for the set, then implored all of us to "Keep listenin', keep supporting local music, and keep getting down," before hitting us with his familiar phrase, "My, my, my, I AM the best looking man in comedy." The hits (and surprises) weren't quite done yet, though, as Ray went on to introduce special guest Nicholas David from the Voice, who joined the band for a smooth, slow-burning take on Al Green's "Tired Of Being Alone." The stirring performance proved to everyone why the impressive St. Paul singer came close to winning the music reality show's competition, and brought the soulful set to a memorable end.

Photo by Tony Nelson

Raucous headliners the 4onthefloor kept the strong momentum going, with a fiery 65-minute set that not only featured plenty of crowd favorites, but also had a couple of new songs from the quartet's forthcoming album due in April. In fact, the storming set began with a fiery new track entitled "Enough," which featured Duluth's Sarah Krueger on guitar and backing vocals. After a lively cover of M. Ward's "Magic Trick," the performance shifted towards boisterous audience singalongs "Junkie" and "Undertow."

Photo by Tony Nelson
But the most memorable moment of the night occurred when frontman Gabe Douglas introduced Lakeland singer/songwriter Zach Sobiech to perform his poignant hit, "Clouds," along with the band. It certainly was an emotional, touching performance, and one that Sobiech and everyone else in the club won't soon forget.

Photo by Tony Nelson
The band kept things churning with volatile takes on "Lionhearted," "On Tuesdays," and a truly blistering version of "Workin' Man Zombie." The night drew to a celebratory close as John Mark Nelson, Maurice Jacox, and Zach Sobiech all returned to the stage to join the 4onthefloor on a jubilant cover of Semisonic's "Singing In My Sleep" as snow fell over the crowd who were singing right along.

Jake Rudh then began the post-show set by playing Prince's "1999" video, perhaps teasing the Purple One just a bit--because even while he was performing just a short distance away, the Current can still throw a wildly successful birthday party without him.

Critic's Notebook:

Personal Bias: I had seen three of the four bands play live before, but not the Funk and Soul All-Stars. And those guys truly delivered, as did all the groups on the bill.

The Crowd: A full house packed with Current listeners and local music supporters.

Overheard In The Crowd: Chastity Brown perfectly summed up the point of the entire evening: "It's like a big 'ol family backstage--and that's exactly what the local scene should look like."

Random Notebook Dump: Everyone on stage thanked the Current for their continued support and dedication to local music, and those weren't just empty platitudes--each of these bands' careers have all been directly bolstered due to airplay and continued support by the station, and without it our local music scene would look radically different than it does today.

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