It was supposed to be a quiet evening at home watching the Austrian national team at the Winter Olympic Games take it to the evil Germans. Alas life had other plans when one of our photographers could not find a babysitter, so I found myself at First Avenue in bright daylight at an all ages show headlined by Neck Deep. Disclosure: I had zero knowledge of any of the bands, and the pop punk genre is one that I fail to understand. I’m an old European fart, my impressions of punk were made by the Sex Pistols, Die Toten Hosen and a fellow by the name of Franz Morak. If you run into me at a show, feel free to ask me about the pig’s head and the chainsaw. But then those bands are long gone, so I wasn’t going to do my “Gramps in his rocking chair, bitching about no good music has been written since Elvis Presley died” impression.
First Ave already had a good crowd on hand as I got there shortly after 5. Each of the bands had their merch booth set up and there was enough to fill 2 separate booths instead of the usual one.
Speak Low When You Speak Of Love (Speak Low for short) started the evening (or late afternoon since it was 5:30 PM). This was their first time at First Ave. There music is more indie rock and proved a good start. When asking the crowd, who had heard their new album singer Ryan Scott Graham counted 8 responding shoults. Judging by their performance, Speak Low should expect quite a few more shouts the next time they come to our city.
Creeper was quite the change of pace. The crowd certainly got moving with a decent sized mosh pit. The band has been getting some buzz. First Avenue pretty much turned into a smaller version of Warped Tour for their set. Wiki lists them as “horror punk” – a genre that has me scratching my head a bit. Their set briefly saw a mosh pit forming – maybe the horror is suburban moms imagining their teens crushed in one? With only one studio album, 2017’s “Eternity, In Your Arms” to their name, Creeper may be new to the scene but their set showed whey they have received several award nominations.
Seaway from Toronto was up next and immediately upped the fashion game with a splash of color from singer Ryan Locke’s shirt. More of a party band than Creeper they leveled up the excitement in the crowd and crowd surfing was encourages, no requested. Several fans took them up on their request and I was surprised that well over half of them were women. Seaway’s question on who had seen them before drew a much stronger response the Speak Low. They had just been in town playing one of the last shows at the Triple Rock, so no surprise there.
Hard to believe but as Neck Deep’s set time approached the crowd’s energy level built up even more end the screams the band was greeted with overpowered even my ear plugs. As Neck Deep blasted out song after song at breakneck pace, the volume of the fans did not lower much. Their third album “The Peace And The Panic” was released last summer and cracked the alternative Top 10 in several countries including the US. Their set took their fans from the first song of their current album (completed with audience quiz), to the first song they ever recorded as a band “Kali Ma”. Through their set Neck Deep maintained their high energy level and released the crowd back into the streets of Minneapolis exhausted and happy. I may not be my genre, and I doubt they any of the bands are aiming at old punk / new wave guys. But I know a good show when I see one and looking at all the happy faces around me I was far from the only one at First Ave that felt that way.