BNLXFest II at Cause, 11/15-16/13

Categories: Last Night
Photo By Erik Hess

With BNLX, Gloss, Blue Sky Blackout, Wiping Out Thousands, Fury Things, Frankie Teardrop, Two Harbors, Pink Mink, Flavor Crystals, and DJs Jake Rudh and Ricky Maymi
Cause Spirits & Soundbar, Minneapolis
November 15-16, 2013

Throughout the two fast-paced nights of BNLXFest II at Cause over the weekend, nine different bands played in quick succession. Each delivered crisp and inspired 30- to 40-minute sets that represented a distinctive new style and sound of the Twin Cities music scene.

The festival was expertly curated by darkwave/post-punk hosts BNLX, who performed both evenings. From Blue Sky Blackout playing their final show ever on Friday, to Frankie Teardrop marking one of their first high-profile gigs Saturday, each group involved played with an inspired urgency that passed from act to act as the nights progressed.

See Also:
Slideshow: BNLXFest 2013: Night one
Slideshow: BNLXFest 2013: Night two

The indie-pop quintet Gloss launched the festivites on Friday, one year after making their live debut in a proper venue at BNLXFest I. It was intriguing to see and hear how the group has solidified in that time via material from their forthcoming debut EP, Between Themselves, as well as a bold run through of their early single, "Front Porch." Gloss's recent work is textured and atmospheric, and the set maintained that effervescent, jangly pop charm that announced their arrival a year ago. Their alluring but all-too-brief performance proved that the group is clearly in its ascendancy at this point.

Photo By Erik Hess

As it was with Gloss last year, BNLX has done a wonderful job providing young, breakout bands the opportunity to perform in front of a welcoming audience during both years of the festival. This year, the newcomer was Frankie Teardrop, who provided a rousing, punkish set on Saturday night. Many in the crowd were getting their first glimpse of the thrilling trio (which also featured Gloss's Jackson Woolsey on bass), and the group seized their opportunity to make quite an impression. "Hey Minneapolis," Frankie sneered during the start of the explosive 25-minute set, "I just want to say that I hate this fucking city, and this next song is called 'Chicago.'"

The rowdy performance was filled with plenty of that type of youthful irreverence, and that charged the untamed garage-rock numbers with an attitude that easily won over the crowd. "New Beverage" encouraged people to quit their jobs and drop out of school and quit drinking that Kool-Aid, while the ridiculously catchy "Greasy Motherfucker" featured an inspired guitar solo from Frankie that added to the song's appeal. The group sprinkled some stellar new songs throughout the set that made it clear that Frankie's flurry of creative activity is showing no signs of letting up.

Photo By Erik Hess
Blue Sky Blackout

The two-day bill was also rounded out by some terrific veteran acts, as Blue Sky Blackout and Two Harbors delivered passionate, inspired sets that proved exciting for vastly different reasons. Blue Sky Blackout played a farewell show on Friday, while Two Harbors played a set full of brand new material from their just completed album, which is set for release in April.

BSB were tight and focused, clearly wanting to go out on a high. The sextet didn't get bogged down in nostalgia or sentimentality, and charged through their anthemic material. Frontman Christian Erickson even worked in a dedication to those celebrating the 50th anniversary of Dr. Who before a pulsating take on "The Universe Is Expanding." And they poignantly closed down their set with a rollicking take on "Somebody Said That You Loved Me," which was the song they used to soundcheck at their first show ever, which coincidentally took place at Cause. It brought things full-circle as the band bowed out in a dignified but decidedly rocking fashion.

Photo By Erik Hess
Two Harbors

Two Harbors, on the other hand, gave their fans a lot to look forward to from their forthcoming record, as the rousing new songs all had elements of the guitar-fueled early days of Brit Pop before the scene got bloated from excess and overindulgence. The quartet just finished recording the album with Ackerson at Flowers Studio, and were clearly excited to share them with an audience. They didn't bother with many pleasantries during their focused, tight set, and instead tried to cram as much new material as they could into their allotted time. "You Might Be Right" was the only track they shared the title of, but the other songs all had a rousing, catchy spirit to them that certainly bodes well for the forthcoming record.

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