An Evening with Ne-Hi at Their Second Home – First Avenue 7th Street Entry

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Twas the night before Easter and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. Wait, wrong holiday, wrong story. Twas the night before Easter and all through the Twin Cities, all the creatures were stirring, everyone wanted out of the house. Saturday night, Chicago-based quartet Ne-Hi brought their tour to Minneapolis’ 7th Street Entry, just in time to cure everyone’s spring fever. On the ticket with Ne-Hi were two Minneapolis based bands – Finesse and Real Numbers. Though the evening was definitely about Ne-Hi, there was a hometown to feel to last night’s show. Perhaps it was the fact it was a show before a Holiday, or the proximity of good ol’ Chicago, but there was a contagious energy in the air on Saturday at The Entry (also the smell of  sweat from the humidity and cheap beer was in the air).

Kicking off the evening right after 9:00 pm was synth-pop duo Finesse. As soon as these guys took to the stage there was something absolutely infectious about their sound and stage presence. Finesse set was heavy synth, with an 80s inspired feel, but wasn’t simply trying to recreate something from the past. It had a feeling of familiarity and newness all at the same time. Finesse is the brainchild of Jeff Cornell and Patrick Donohoe, keys/synth/guitar and vocals, respectively. Both Cornell and Donohoe have played in other bands around the Twin Cities, but there was a cool vibe to their simple & synthy set last night. They played through a roughly 40-minute set with ease to a fairly full Entry. As an added bonus to an already polished performance, Donohoe mentioned they were collecting donations for the International Women’s Health Coalition, a gesture I think everyone could appreciate.

The second band on the ticket for the evening was Real Numbers, also hailing from right here in the Twin Cities. As I geared up for their set, I heard chatter around me about so and so’s haircut, and how so and so knows so and so regarding the members of Real Numbers. Again, there was a definite hometown feel, with lots of friends and family in the crowd. As a writer covering music here in the Twin Cities, I’ve seen Real Numbers name floating around but hadn’t caught them live before last night. However, after their short but sweet on Saturday, I only hope we will see plenty more from this 5-piece. Real Numbers has that jangly beach punk sound (think Burger Records or The Growlers), with a twist all their own , thanks to frontman Eli Hansen’s distinct vocals. Their set features feel-good harmonies on top of heavy layered guitars. Real Numbers set was just around 30-minutes, and I was left wanting to hear more from these guys. Real Numbers was also donating the proceeds from their merch sales to the  International Women’s Health Coalition last night.

And finally taking to the stage around 11:00 pm was the up-and-coming Chicago kings themselves, Ne-Hi. To say that Ne-Hi has been having a pretty good 2017 would be a bit of an understatement. Riding the wave of an incredible receptions on SXSW, garnering nods from Pitchfork, NPR and others, Ne-Hi is currently in the midst of a pretty extensive US tour. Minneapolis was just one of many stops, but again, these guys seems to love Minneapolis just as much as any hotdish eating, Prince loving Minnesotan does. “I know we always call Minneapolis our second home, but even that doesn’t really begin to describe it,” vocalist/guitarist Jason Balla said during their set. Ne-Hi played through their 40-minute set with the energy and sense of urgency of a hometown show. The tiny but packed Entry was dancing and moshing, with nothing but a sense of good vibes all around. Minneapolis crowds can sometimes be a little scared and dance and move, but that was definitely not the case at Ne-Hi last night. Ne-Hi’s set featured tracks off their newest album Offers as well as their self-titled freshman album. As someone who is loving pretty much every band coming out of that whole Twin Peaks/The Orwells scene in Chicago right now, Ne-Hi was pretty high on list of bands to catch this year, and they did not disappoint. Gritty yet polished vocals, over- the-top energy, a zero-f’s given attitude, a just a feel good sound, Ne-Hi’s set was perfect way to ring in spring here in the Twin Cities.

Drummer Alex Otake was working up a sweat in the humid Entry. Balla went so hard he knocked his mic-stand over. Bassist James Weir (from Minnesota) probably kept it the most low-key and Michael Wells rounded things out on guitars and vocals. Every member of Ne-Hi even took a few crushed beer cans to the face/guitar last night, because *of course* it’s necessary to throw your beer can on stage. Ne-Hi’s set felt too short,  and the crowd agreed, cheering them on for one more song. Ne-Hi left the room with heavy sense of anticipation for what is to come from this four-piece. And as plenty of publications this year have written before, there is an undeniable chemistry when these four guys take the stage. Last night’s set at 7th Street Entry further solidified what I (and plenty of others) have already sensed, that Ne-Hi is definitely one to watch this year.

Setlist: Sisters / Prove / Buried on the Moon / Since I’ve Been Thinking / Palm of Hand / Offers / You Tell Me / Time Wanna / Stay Young

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