Temples at First Avenue, 4/24/14

Categories: Last Night
Photo By Steve Cohen

With Drowners and Two Harbors
First Avenue, Minneapolis
April 24, 2014

It's both a blessing and a bit of a curse for a band's show to move to a bigger room in order to accommodate demand. Sure, the group's popularity is increasing at an unforeseen rate, but some folks bought tickets to see you at a more intimate venue. It raises questions about whether or not a band is ready for a larger stage, or if they're all hype.

On Thursday night at First Avenue, Kettering, England psych-rock quartet Temples made everyone forget about the gig originally being scheduled for the much smaller Turf Club, as they delivered a guitar-drenched, hour-long set that showcased their hazy jams and throwback sound. Openers Drowners and local quartet Two Harbors also gave the club a welcome jolt of energy, in one of the most perfectly suited triple-bills in recent memory.

See also:
Slideshow: Temples rock First Avenue

Temples made their Minneapolis debut while clearly riding the buzz of their current single, "Shelter Song." The nearly full-house surprised their glammed-out, Marc Bolan-esque lead singer, James Bagshaw, as he remarked that they were, "Playing to a bigger crowd than we'd get in Liverpool. We should move here." That bond with the crowd continued throughout the tight set, even though the band themselves don't get up to too much -- visually or charismatically -- and instead throw themselves into their sprawling neo-psychedelia numbers.

There is a retro charm to their material that is rather weightless and irresistible, and went over well with the "everything old is now new again" crowd. "Colours to Life" had a Grateful Dead-ish refrain to it, while "Prism" and "Sun Structures" echoed elements of the Byrds and the 13th Floor Elevators in their buoyant sonic sprawl. Bagshaw's lyrics were focused on all things astral (not too surprising on an album named Sun Structures), and was reminiscent of the delirious poetry of any youthful artist who chooses to forgo navel-gazing and instead looks up into the night sky with wonder.

Photos By Steve Cohen

The lengthy pre-recorded clapping intro for "A Question Isn't Answered" immediately grabbed the audience, as the band's shadowy harmonies blossomed slowly along with its beats. The song swung through many different genres as it unfolded majestically, exploring the trippy, Summer of Love-era optimism before settling into a fitful, Sabbath-like explosion of guitars that snapped the set fully to life. The band and their material worked much better the further they strayed from the confines of their songs' structures, and the more experimental twists breathed life into moments that sound flat on the album.

Temples chose their influences well, especially in this era that is so focused on nostalgia. So "Move With the Season" brought to mind CSNY's leisurely, harmony drenched jams, while guitar-driven snippets of the Yardbirds popped up. But the young band clearly brings their own modern take on these well-worn sounds, and never approach a level of flat-out pastiche or tired cliche.

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