Tuesday marked the middle of October. The weather may be changing, but the selection of great live performance is not giving in to the Fall season. I ventured out in the early evening to the Whiskey Junction. Promoter Leo Presents was presenting a really great show featuring headliner Madame Mayhem along with Minneapolis-based bands Plague of Stars and Names To Faces. This line-up drew strong attention as all the bands highlighted a front-woman at the mic.
I arrived a few minutes after the doors opened. It didn’t take long to get into my normal groove of “concert readiness”. Though the venue was not packed with people, there was a very social atmosphere and pleasant flow of eager concert seekers coming in the door and getting settled. The bar area was clearly busy and for a week night show, there was a fair amount of beer being poured from the taps. I made a few social stops for some quick chats and then headed over to check on the merch items available from the bands. A quick check of my watch, I noticed it was almost time for the first band.
First to take the stage was Names To Faces. I had never heard of this band prior to the show but was quickly hooked into their performance and their originality. While their style was mostly Rock, they did include a cover of the The Cranberries hit ‘Zombie’. Like their entire set, it was pure, well executed, and highly energetic.
Next up, Plague of Stars hit the stage. Though I have seen this band many times, I always look forward to their performance. Plague of Stars has this ‘secret sauce’ element that keeps things extremely fresh and lively. With their latest album ‘Daedalus’ well in circulation, the entire band delivered the set with tightly executed delivery. Front-woman Melissa Ferlaak quickly hooked in the crowd and laid out an impressive vocal landscape for the set. Will Maravelas, Aaron Lanik, Aaron “Frodo” Caulfield, and Casey Harris (sitting in for Tim Morton) hammered through the music with exceptional accuracy. Plague of Stars’ sound clearly crosses a lot of genre boundaries and seems to redefine a combined Doom, Gothic, and Death Metal sound. Based on the crowd response, this re-definition is well accepted.
After a short stage change, it was time for the headliner Madame Mayhem. Natalie Ann Cohen (better known as Madame Mayhem) is a New York born singer and songwriter whose fashion and music scream pure rock. Though she’s a classically trained vocalist, pianist, and guitarist, the power of rock was stronger and fans are grateful for it. Madame Mayhem has shared the stage with a bunch of A-list bands, so it was a thrill to see her perform in a more intimate setting. There was no disappointment. From the moment the band hit the stage, the crowd was fully engaged. Madame Mayhem hit the stage with a strong presence and the vocals to match. She and the band are highly energetic on stage, constantly moving, and doing it with style and with tons of pizazz. The music was heart-pounding rock with blissful vocals that will make you want more.
Needless to say, I was beyond impressed with all the bands. As I packed up and left the venue, songs of the evening were still ringing in my head. Names To Faces and Plague of Stars truly rocked the house and provided an energized crowd to Madame Mayhem so they could kick up the energy a few more levels.
Decisions, decisions. That’s what local music fans and music reviewers faced Friday night at First Avenue with two outstanding shows both starting at 8:30pm. In the Mainroom, one of my long time favorites, Soul Asylum, […]