The frigid temperatures couldn’t keep the crowds away from First Avenue on Saturday night. With a show so big it took both the Entry and the Mainroom to contain, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades and the Big Wu lead the “ 2 Room Takeover” in a pre New Years Eve jamfest. Trading sets throughout the night, it was hard to tell who was the headliner. The night cumulated in a “HorseWuus” super set when both bands joined forces around 2am. Also on the bill were Feeding Leroy, Them Coulee Boys and The Last Revel.
Holding down the fort in the Entry were Duluth based Feeding Leroy. Highlighted by the captivating harmonies of Lee Martin and Sonja Bjordal, Feeding Leroy was the “house band” for the evening. The band would come on between set changes in the Main Room, keeping the music flowing all night. While the music was stripped down, the musicians were tight. Americana at it’s finest. The room was tight too, nearly impossible to move around when Finding Leroy was playing.
Warming things up in the Main Room on acoustic guitars were Horseshoes axe man Adam Gruel and The Big Wu’s Chris Castino. Highlights of this set were some sweet Grateful Dead covers of “Althea” and “Bird Song”.
Next up in the Mainroom were Minneapolis based The Last Revel. Consisting of 3 extremely talented musicians, these guys commanded the stage in very dapper matching red jackets. There sound was Americana with an enthusiastic, raw edge. They energized the audience with there passionate performance of “Sleepy Gary”, which featured rocking banjo and fiddle leads.
Them Coulee Boys gave a set break to Feeding Leroy in the Entry. With their unique brand of Americana, The Boys from Wisconsin rocked the Entry hard. Even with the Entry packed to capacity, Them Coulee Boys had the crowd dancing. Real, honest and hard working were all adjectives that came to mind watching the band Saturday night.
Out on the Mainroom Stage came Horseshoes and Hand Grenades around 9pm. While appearing like young bucks, it was immediately evident that these guys are serious musicians and were tighter than 2 coats of paint. Jamgrass masters, these guys would take you to the edge and rebound in a completely different direction. These guys would be at home at a Bluegrass festival or playing Red Rocks. There music is both rocking Americana yet elegantly balletic. Look for big things from these guys.
Set 1: River’s High – Sugar In The Wine – Prairie Chicken Queen – Wisconsin Water’s – Dig A Hole In The Meadow – The Ode – Stuck On Yer Mind – Don’t Say Hello – City Light’s – Skillet Good And Greasy
Set 2: Fly To The Moon – Rods Tune – The Villas Hilton – Get Down Too It – Make One Today – This Must Be The Place – River Rat – Rhiannon – Bronzeback Shuffle – Whiskey>Crazy>Whiskey – Gator Tracks
Following H&HG were Twin Cities jamband legends The Big Wu. These guys have been laying down sweet music since the mid 90’s, and Saturday night the band was as “on” as ever. Tenacious solos highlight the carefully crafted original tunes. Songwriting is a strong suit of The Big Wu, with lofty arraignments that take you on wonderful journeys. The tension and release brings you right to the edge of the aural cliff, only to be pulled back to Technicolor landscapes expertly opened up before you. While they are killer songwriters, the highlight of the evening was a 10-minute cover of Pink Floyd’s “Pigs, 3 Different Ones”
The Big Wu was joined onstage by Horseshoes & Hand Grenades for “The Weight” and “Ophelia”, the culmination of a jam marathon for the ages. On a side note, the entire Mainroom show was recorded by Tommy the Beard and is available on archive.org.
Set 1: We Are Trees – Texas Fireball – Chateau In The Know – How The West Was Won – Runner With Energy – Red Sky – Caravan
Set 2: Pigs, Three Different Ones – House Of Wu > I’ve Got Ants In My Pants > House Of Wu – Bound For The South – Ready To Burn – Kensington Manor > Walking On The Moon > Kensington Manor – Eminence Front
The Weight – Ophelia