Palma Violets at 7th St. Entry, 4/30/13
Palma Violets brought the raucous sounds of South London to the 7th Street Entry on Tuesday night, as the young quartet delivered a tempestuous 45-minute set filled with energetic garage-punk songs that brazenly mined sonic elements of the U.K. music scene both past and present. The hotly-tipped group, recently named by NME as their Best New Band of 2012, roiled the packed Entry crowd with a performance that deftly mixed a snide punk attitude with aggressive rock 'n' roll ambition, making a raucous and rowdy first impression during their first time through Minneapolis.
Openers Guards, a Brooklyn quintet fronted by Richie Follin (brother of Madeline from Cults), delivered a mixed-bag set of psych-fueled garage rock that certainly got the attention of the packed club, even if they didn't fully win the room over. The hazy set drew mainly from the group's debut LP, In Guards We Trust, but while the studio versions of those songs have a breezy pop polish to them, they have a bristling, feedback-laden pulse that certainly enlivens the tracks in a live setting.
"Silver Linings," "Coming True," and a boisterous take on "Nightmare" were a few of the highlights of the set, but the band appeared frustrated by the lack of connection they were making with the crowd, and seemed to retreat within themselves for prolonged experimental sonic freakouts, with Follin repeatedly holding his guitar above his head as if caught between losing himself completely in the song and just chucking it and calling it a night.
Follin also appeared to be a bit confused as to where he was, thanking the Palma Violets for "bringing them on tour in this part of the country for the first time," even though the group just opened for the Joy Formidable at First Avenue a few weeks back. But no matter, songs like "Home Free" and the anthemic Arcade Fire-like "I Know It's You," were fun, even if some others didn't end up going anywhere, and Guards set the stage well for the headliners even if they ended up frustrated that they didn't make the crowd dance.
Palma Violets employed a bit of a hypeman/merch guy in Harry Violent, who took to the stage to introduce the band and get the crowd properly psyched for the show. "Let's shake-off that aloofness sickness that is crippling the human race. Here's South London's finest, the Palma Violets." And, as Violent jumped in the crowd to start up the pit, the band quickly tore into a nearly incomprehensible version of "Johnny Bagga' Donuts" that was even more breakneck than the original. Explicit Clash influences were layered throughout not only the opening number, but much of the breathless set itself, complete with an unabashed nick of the riff from "I Fought The Law" in the boisterous second number, "Rattlesnake Highway."
Guitarist Samuel Frye and the ever-hyper bassist Alex Jesson split vocal duties throughout the show, with one frequently filling in for the other while they were bounding about the stage. This untamed balance called to mind the volatile musical partnership of Pete Doherty and Carl Barât, and this fitful, unruly set was actually quite reminiscent of the Libertines first Minneapolis performance in this very same club ten years prior (though Doherty missed that gig, having been recently arrested for burglary, natch).