Last night was my first night off from shows in a couple of days so, naturally, I ended up at a show. I decided that spending my night watching my friends [hopefully] kill it on stage was much more important than cleaning and binge watching the new season of Trailer Park Boys. I’ll admit, peeling myself off the couch when it was time to head out was a little rough and the bitter air that Mother Nature has blessed Minnesota with to celebrate the start of spring really didn’t help matters but I sucked it up, got in my car, and headed to Saint Paul.
Being that I hadn’t been planning on going to the show, I had no idea what to expect. I had no clue how many bands were playing, who the bands were, or what type of music I would be treated to. Honestly, none of that matters to me so I walked into Amsterdam Bar & Hall bright eyed and bushy tailed. After grabbing a drink, I claimed a spot and chatted with my friends that would be playing later on in the night. I came to find out that this would be a six band show and I instantly felt a sense of dread. I love finding new music and new bands but six bands on one show is a lot– especially when you want to write about everyone. I took a deep breath, took a drink, and leaned back as the first band took the stage. Although I was a bit irked that there would be so many bands, I was super excited to see what they were all about and was hopeful that I would find some new favorites in the line-up. Being that there were six bands, consider this blog post a bit of a speed round. Spoiler alert– all of the bands were great and brought a different personality to the stage but me writing a couple hundred of words on each would lead to an extensive article that you won’t read through so here are just a few comments on each band.
The Permanent Vacation- These guys had a very juvenile sound and feel to them but don’t start thinking that’s a bad thing. Their easy-going summer-fun sound had the modest crowd forgetting that it was bitterly cold outside and we had some fresh snow on the ground. Although their set (along with everyone else’s) was uber short, I got the just of this band from what they presented and I wouldn’t be bummed if I caught them again soon.
Vital Vice- Heads turned as soon as Vital Vice took the stage. Singer Brandon Elliott has a voice that makes you stop everything you’re doing and demands your attention with ease. To say his vocals are impressive would be and understatement. I honestly have no clue how I’ve never heard of this local group before but after listening and seeing them last night, they are definitely on my radar. Their music had a much more mature sound than that of The Permanent Vacation but they still kept the set feeling fun and funky. If you weren’t bobbing your head along to Vital Vice’s short set, there’s something terribly wrong with you.
The Phoenix Philosophy- Full disclosure, this is the band that I have friends in but, as you know, I don’t sugar coat things for anyone– not even my friends. The first time I saw TPP I wasn’t impressed. Their sound came off generic and their show boring but something changed last night. I don’t know if it was my mood, the atmosphere, or what… but they killed it last night. The group had a much heavier sound than the previous two bands but it wasn’t in an abrasive way. If Vital Vice’s set didn’t wake you up and get you excited for what the night was going to bring, TPP’s set definitely did. Their heavy-hitting cover of Natalie Imbruglia’s ‘Torn’ was a good fit for the band and showcased their creativity.
Abisha Uhl- Abisha used to be in Sick of Sarah but is currently out doing her own thing and honestly, this new thing fits her well. Abisha has a set of pipes on her that is so unique and interesting that it’s hard to turn away when she’s on stage. Her tortured vocals had me intrigued and her casual feeling set had me loving every moment. Abisha tried her best to get the crowd more amped up for the rest of the night but it unfortunately wasn’t working. That didn’t stop Abisha and her backing band from having fun on stage and doing their thing. She had been on my list for awhile and now that I’ve seen Abisha live, I can’t wait to do it again.
Selfish Things- This Toronto based five-piece was probably my favorite of the night. Although there weren’t many people at this show (it was the night before Easter Sunday… just a band night for a show), Selfish Things gave the crowd everything they had and delivered it with a sense of professionalism while still keeping it fun and light-hearted. Their choice of covering ‘Woo Hoo’ by Blur was honestly one of the most fitting covers I’ve heard in awhile. Their overall sound matched the happy-go-luckiness of that song but there were also moments when the band showcased a more sensitive sound. Although the crowd was modest at best, Selfish Things radiated a sense of energy that you typically get at a sold out show. I truly can not wait for another visit from these Canadians.
Layne- Headlining the extensive show was Layne. Having never heard of her before, I was excited to see what this South Dakota born, Los Angeles based musician had to bring to the table. Her voice is something of beauty but it has this intriguing edge to it. Although I could hear Layne’s music on any of the mainstream radio station, I could also hear it on the indie stations. The unique blend of common and uncommon in Layne’s music kept the set feeling short and kept me interested even after a long night of music. Her energy wasn’t over the top or anything but it was perfect. She came off as a very genuine person and sometimes that’s better than coming off as a rockstar.
Last night could have been spent getting caught up on stuff at home but, let’s be honest, there’s no fun in that. I’m so glad I have friends in the scene that invite me to such amazing and unique shows. Have a night off? Go support your friends.