Ike Reilly is one of those under the radar guys. His first album, Salesmen and Racists, while critically acclaimed, failed to garner widespread buzz. His songs are authentic, telling the stories of the down trodden and the lonely. This gritty realism has amassed him a cult following. The faithful were out in full force in the Mainroom at First Avenue Wednesday night, in what has become somewhat of a Thanksgiving tradition.
First up were 80’s Twin Cities hard rockers Flamin’ Oh’s . While their hair may not be as high as it was in the 80’s, the energy level on stage was through the roof. Frontman/guitarist Robert Wilkinson was still rockin’ hard. The set was fierce, loud and thoroughly enjoyable. Bassist Jenny Case laid down one of the most ferocious bass solos the Mainroom has seen this year. Set highlight was a smokin’ cover of David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream”. Veteran six string monster Terry Isachsen was en fuego, climbing on the monitors to highlight his vicious fret work. This set was rock and roll at its best.
Next up in the Mainroom were locals The Twilight Hours. Consisting of veteran musicians Matt Wilson and John Munson, both are former members of Trip Shakespeare and current dads. The chemistry was evident in the abundant harmonies and familiarity in their stage presence. This is one polished group of musicians. Pounding bass and impassioned guitar work were the hallmarks of the set. They played a new tune, and Wilson hinted that more may be on the horizon.
Headliners Ike Reilly Assassination came on around 10 to mad cheers from the packed house. It was obvious from the reaction that the crowd was there for Ike. Dressed all in black and wielding an acoustic guitar, Reilly sang with a passion and confidence that comes from twenty plus years of touring. Part rock-a-billy, part blues, and all rock, “Bolt Cutter” had the Mainroom fist pumping to the beat. “Living In The Wrong Time” and “Duty Free” both resonate with the realities of what is going on in the world today. This is music for people who are aware. Rock and roll protest songs. Reilly is political without being preachy. With a focus on the plight of the common man, he paints tales of loneliness and loss with razor sharp observation. While the music appears to be party bar sing along, the subjects are mature and serious as a heart attack.
As Reilly belts out tune after tune, gravely voiced, with the zeal of a union organizer, there is an aura about him that says “don’t’ fuck with me, I’ll kick your ass”. He’s cooler than pirates and ninjas combined. The band is phenomenal too. They are a raucous, rowdy garage band of friends. They were joined onstage by a variety of extras, including local guitar slinger Chris “Little Man” Perricelli. Overheard in the crowd, Perricelli was Ike’s guitar tech at one time.
Ike’s blue collar aesthetic and calls to right the wrongs of society clearly strike a cord, and the faithful appeared ready to go forth from the Mainroom and save the world.