When I fall in love with a band, I really fall in love with them. I will memorize the lyrics, start following the band members on social media (in the least stalker-ish way possible) and start obsessing over tour schedules as I impatiently wait for them to make a visit to the Twin Cities. Susto is one of those bands that I instantly fell head over heels for when I first saw them in February. Somehow, I’m fortunate enough to live in a place where bands love coming to perform and was able to catch Susto again in June. Being able to catch a favorite twice in a year is a huge deal– three times in a year? That’s just insane, right? Well, maybe… but being able to see Susto for a third time this year was also amazing.
First, let’s talk about how Susto always brings along some of the best opening acts. Last time I saw them with Skyway Man and, much like Susto, I fell in love interesting. The best thing about the openers they chose is that they are always interest. Sure, the music meshes with Susto’s music but it is never too much alike as to make the night feel boring and redundant. As soon as I saw the sitar on stage, I knew that Susto had done it again and, although I was a bit unsure about what was to come and my feelings towards the sitar in general, I knew that whatever it was, it was going to be good.
My friend and I were sitting at a table near the back when the music started. The two piece took the stage and I was instantly confused yet intrigued at the same time. It was just two guys, no drummer, no bass, literally just Rob Keenan with a guitar, effect pedals, and a microphone, and Tyler Randall with his sitar and a microphone. What in the fuck was this? I started to panic thinking that maybe Susto would finally let me down when it comes to their opening acts. As the music started, my friend and I glanced at each other. I couldn’t help but bring up ‘The Office’ episode where Andy plays the sitar throughout the office’s ‘Moroccan Christmas’. We laughed but, all joking aside, I found myself drifting away from the conversation with her and focusing more on the music. Within no time, we had found ourselves out of our seats and migrating closer to the stage.
The music of Dawg Yawp was interesting to say the least. At times it had a very bluesy feel but at other times, it felt like just your basic rock music. Regardless of what kind of genre was being portrayed, the music was very sitar-centric leaving a truly unique sound and experience. To be honest, I’ve never really been up close and personal to a sitar before so I watched in awe as Tyler tuned the giant instrument in-between songs. Clearly a sitar isn’t quite known for it’s prominence in modern music (okay, yeah sure, The Beatles used one but, come on, that was so long ago!) but Tyler could be the man to bring it back. Sure, there were a couple of songs during Dawg Yawp’s short set where I was left wondering what the hell was going on but there were others that I truly loved. The love outweighed the “what the hell is this” feeling in my heart and so begins another mild obsession for a band I had never heard of before.
With only two bands on the bill, Susto seemed to take their time setting up the stage for their set. The crowd (including my friend and myself) didn’t seem to mind. Everyone seemed busy chatting away and grabbing another drink all the while keeping smiles on their faces. The conversations throughout the venue seemed to gain energy as time went and they got louder and louder but as soon as the five members were spotted taking the stage, the crowd went silent and made their way up to the stage.
Having seen Susto so many times already this year, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I knew what I wanted but I also knew what I would probably get. I wanted to hear new songs, I wanted some fire that I hadn’t seen before from them but I knew, having just seen them four months ago, I would probably get the same songs and energy as last time. It’s not that those songs and energy are bad, it’s more that I’m so anxious to see this group catapult into the stars that I’m ready for it to happen now. I was partly right about what I was going to get but also absolutely wrong. Susto played many of the same songs as last time but something was different and, at times, I felt like I was watching a whole new band.
There was a new sense of energy radiating from the group that hadn’t been there the previous times I’ve caught them. They were awake, energetic, and there seemed to be this new found love between band and audience. Singer Justin Osborne had this new sense of banter with the crowd. Maybe it’s a new thing the band is trying out or maybe he just feels comfortable in the Twin Cities after playing here so much but I’m pretty sure he talked more to the crowd within the first twenty minutes of last night’s show than he had the past two shows combined. Regardless of the reason, I was into it and it gave the band a whole new dimension to help me fall just a little deeper in love with them. Beyond the new energy was the new music.
They played one new, unreleased song that will more than likely show up on a future recording. The song kept with Susto’s country-indie-folk sound but there was an intensity to it that I had never seen from this band before. The sound of the new song leaned more to an almost punk attitude but had that southern twang to it that Susto does to well. That one song, those three minutes of them performing that song, that’s why I went back to see Susto for a third time this year. I wanted to see something new, something different, something that would convince my I’m not wasting my time loving this band– that song single-handedly did that. I’ve watched Susto grow over the past year. Each time I see them they seem to get better and better. This band is about the pop. I promise you that.
Go to a random show, fall in love with a band you’ve never heard of before, and then watch them grow. It’s seriously one of the best feelings in the world.