The Minneapolis born rock band 4onthefloor played their album release show at the Varsity Theatre as a send off for their upcoming nationwide tour. I was feeling giddy because it had been months since I had picked up a camera and photographed a show and I had never seen either of the bands before. The amount of stage presence that both acts showed impressed me greatly, although I surely expected it from the headliner given their reputation.
I entered the room about a quarter of the way into General B and the Wiz’s set, but I heard the 6 piece band from around the corner before seeing them. Frontman Quincy Voris drew me in from the back of the venue by swinging his tambourine and dancing around the microphone like his feet were on fire. From there my eyes landed on Frank Merchlewitz, the keyboard player, who had lain his face flat on the keys, but kept playing with both hands on either side of his head. It got weirder when he started gyrating his body and mashing 10 keys at a time with arms straight out like a zombie.
Between banging choruses and slow melodic verses, Merchlewitz not only played his part, but danced with his keyboard too by tipping it up on end, swinging it around his body and shaking it. After the show, Guitarist Seth Duin told me that Frank is a recent addition to the group and they never know what he is going to do next. As the set went on, it was clear that everybody in the band was enjoying the dynamic. I am not sure they took a break at all. Each song flowed into the next one, drawing cheers from the crowd every time.
Everybody fell in toward the stage as the guys from 4onthefloor finished setting up, but I was unsure how setup could be finished with only one kick drum on the stage – I expected four. Maybe they don’t do that anymore now that they are have released their 5th studio album The North Remembers. Nonetheless, there was plenty of foot-stomping bass drum action to be had. The group wasted no time jumping into the first song and the fans were ready for it. An especially hyper group formed a mini mosh pit front and center right away.
After a couple songs, frontman Gabriel Douglas announced that he used to work at the Varsity Theatre, then saluted all the bartenders of Dinkytown with a toast from his large mug of beer before jumping into the band’s well-known drinking song, On Tuesdays. He would toast many more times throughout the set. During one breakdown, the guitarists hit the floor and drummer planted his face in the snare while the bass player leaned on his back.
After a few compliments on my own beard, I figured out that the ladies in the crowd are not only fans of blues rock, but scruffy faces as well. “His beard is all I need,” one woman said of Douglas’s beard between songs. These boys had no trouble playing the gamut of their material for 2 hours dancing, kicking and screaming all the while. I will definitely see them play again the next time they come through.