Toadies at First Avenue, 4/11/14

Categories: Last Night
Photo by Erik Hess

Toadies: Rubberneck 20th Anniversary Tour
With Supersuckers and Battleme
First Avenue, Minneapolis
Friday, April 11, 2014

In celebration of the 20th anniversary of their full-length debut, Rubberneck, Texas alt-rockers Toadies stopped by First Avenue on Friday. Supported by Supersuckers and Battleme, they played through the album in its entirety and were met with an enthusiastic and responsive crowd.

Portland's Battleme seemed unknown to the growing crowd but they grabbed people's attention with a strong set of straight-ahead rock 'n' roll. "I already love you so much better than St. Louis last night", said lead singer Matt Drenik, who maintained a great stage presence as he ran through songs he wrote and recorded himself, with the help of a tight backing band. He praised First Avenue and was clearly excited to play here, and finished with a cover of Neil Young's "Hey Hey, My My" dedicated to the recently deceased dog of one of the Supersuckers,

Photos by Erik Hess

The Supersuckers were huge and loud, sporting Dukes of Hazzard fashion and appropriately showy guitar solos. The Tucson band has been around for ages now and are showing no signs of slowing up. They ran through a long set that included new material from their latest record Get the Hell. It was a fitting opener, bringing as much huge rock energy as the headliners but with a different flavor, and they had a few moments that almost stole the show.

The Eddie Spaghetti-fronted, self-proclaimed "Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band In the World" and their cowpunk approach kept things lively. They toyed with the audience by announcing their final song before launching into blistering guitar solos, Thin Lizzy covers, middle finger salutes, and false endings. It was a meaty set that covered a range of eras and sides to their sound, showcasing their twang and their power-pop chops in quick succession.

Photo by Erik Hess

Shortly afterwards Toadies came out to the driving riff of instrumental "Mexican Hairless," which launched a set of Rubberneck played from front to back. The album is short and punchy, using off-kilter timing and big blues progressions to deliver some standout post-grunge, and the execution onstage did it justice. The guitars were brash and screechy in just the way you'd want them to be. Vaden Todd Lewis's voice is still commanding, hitting young man notes with a scream as loud and tuneful as ever.

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