Every so often you’re lucky enough to catch a band live at that perfect time. Perfect venue, perfect energy, perfect place in their career. That was the case on Saturday night at 7th Street Entry for both Billy Raffoul and Mondo Cozmo – two artists that are destined for big things. Minneapolis was one of the first stops on their tour – and there was no shortage of good vibes to go around. Both Raffoul and Mondo Cozmo are what the blogosphere would call “up and coming.” However, neither of these bands seem to be where they are by luck, but rather hard work and dedication to their craft. This seems to be only the beginning for these bands. Raffoul and Mondo Cozmo nearly sold out the intimate Entry on Saturday night and we have no doubt the next time they roll back through the Twin Cities will be to a bigger crowd in a bigger venue. Those who made it out on Saturday night got to experience was can only be described as a perfectly intimate evening of music.
Opening up the evening was Ontario singer/songwriter Billy Raffoul. Raffoul first caught our ear with his breakout single Driver. This single was one of those songs that doesn’t come along too often. It stops you dead in your tracks and demands a second, third and fourth listen. Following Driver, Raffoul released Dark Four Door. With a limited discography out, there is a definite intrigue about Raffoul (he’s currently working on his debut album due out on Interscope in the near future). After Saturday night’s set it’s clear that Raffoul will not be a “flash in the pan” artist with one kick-ass single, but rather is poised for what we can only expect to be a long and prosperous musical career. Every song of his 45-minute set absolutely banged. Raffoul has one of those voices that doesn’t come along to often – his rough-hewn, low timbered rock is truly reminiscent of the greats like Joe Cocker, Neil Young and Jeff Buckley. He effortlessly switches between soft, poetic, heartfelt lyrics and booming anthemic, stadium-ready bangers.
Saturday at the Entry was only Raffoul’s third show on the tour with Mondo Cozmo. There was an endearing bashfulness about Raffoul, as if unaware of his own “stop-you-dead-in-your-tracks” powerhouse vocals (oh and dreamboat good looks too). Raffoul and his band are all incredibly, incredibly talented musicans and again seem to work damn hard at what they do. We will be anxiously awaiting the release of Raffoul’s debut album and next stop in Minneapolis. After watching Raffoul ooze with talent (and what seems to be a deep discography) it’s no doubt he is on track to becoming a household name in coming years.
The next act of the evening, also well on their way to becoming a household name, was Mondo Cozmo. The band takes their name from frontman Joshua Keith Ostrander’s dog, Cozmo. “He really is a good dog,” Ostrander joked during their set. Saturday at the Entry was a particularly special show as Mondo Cozmo just released their album Plastic Soul that Friday. This album has already been widely receiving – garnering accolades from a variety of notable outlets. “My album came out yesterday so I’m the happiest guy in the world right now,” Ostrander said. And from their set, it was clear they meant that.
Throughout the set, there was a joy that radiated from Mondo Cozmo that isn’t often seen in a live set. It was clear that every member on that stage was just bursting at the seams, over the moon, happy to be doing what they are doing. “It’s so great to be here. And it’s so great to have people in the room. I’ve played this place before and there was no one here, so this is really great,” Ostrander said. Bands who tour are good at banter and the “lines” they are suppose to say, but it was clear Mondo Cozmo meant every single word of that. Mondo Cozmo honestly played every song like it was their last – with fire and passion and gumption and smiles from ear to ear. “There’s a radio station here that’s been really great to us. They are called The Current and maybe that is why you here tonight but whatever it is, thank you, seriously,” Ostrander went on. This gratitude for the crowd, the attentive ears and contagious energy was something the band kept saying thank you over and over again for. The feeling seemed to be mutual
“Let’s hang out after this and get some beers or take some photos whatever the fuck you want. I’m gonna go change my shirt after this but then if you want to talk about rock and roll or life or just connect, I’m gonna be over there at the merch table,” Ostrander said towards the end of the set. And that’s just what he did after the set. Fans at the Entry truly were witness to something so special on Saturday night. Witness to a band who has worked damn hard to be where they are, fresh off the release of what might be one of the best albums of the year, happy as hell to be doing what they are doing. It was like watching an athlete win the championship game when their career is just getting started.
We wish both Billy Raffoul and Mondo Cozmo the best of luck on the rest of their tour and can’t wait to have them back in the Twin Cities very soon!
Setlist: Chemical Dream / 11 Acre / Come With Me / Higher / Angel / Plastic Soul / Future Bends / Hold On To Me / Shine / Bittersweet Symphony (The Verve cover) / Automatic