It was another night where there was far too much going on in the Twin Cities for me to list. I headed downtown a little early to try and catch some of the Prince festivities that were taking place in front of First Avenue. I parked my car, walked the familiar route down the downtown streets and was greeted with music and dancing as I made the turn onto 7th street. I wasn’t one of the lucky ones to get a free ticket into the block party that First Avenue was hosting but I quickly realized that I could see and hear everything from the packed sidewalk on the other side of the street. I instantly regretted signing up to cover a show going on down the street. After standing around for a couple of songs, I reluctantly continued my walk through downtown Minneapolis.
As soon as I made it into The Fine Line for the show I was supposed to be at, I was greeted by a packed house and an undeniable sense of energy. I quickly forgot about the block party going on down the street and was more than okay with being at this show instead of there. As big of a deal as Prince is for this town and for music in general, it was kind of refreshing to be at a show and hear conversations that had nothing to do with Prince. The conversations were centered around where people were the first time they heard The Damned. The older crowd around me was reminiscing about their younger years and when they “used to be punk”. There were hugs going on all around me as the venue filled to the brim with people and you could hear laughs all around. The atmosphere was prime for a punk rock show.
The music started promptly at 8 with L.A punk/pop-punk group Bleached. Bleached is a four piece band that has been making waves since they started back in 2011. Vocalist Jennifer Francis Clavin seemed to steal the spotlight for majority of the night. She had this bubbly personality about her that seemed to spill off the stage and into the crowd. The crowd was polite as the band played through their nearly 45 minute set and seemed to truly enjoy the upbeat music from these youngsters. All of the members of Bleached seemed to be truly humbled by the fact that they were opening a tour for a band as legendary as The Damned. Jennifer didn’t address the crowd much, but when she did she always thanked the crowd for the attentiveness.
Bleached’s music was poppy and fun but it still had an attitude about it that made the music lean towards the punk side of things. The songs were fast but not out of control and, even though the whole set had this garage punk feel about it, everything came off as clean and professional. When it was all said and done, Bleached seemed to be a perfect opener for this tour and the crowd seemed more than satisfied by their set. As the band left the stage and the stage crew started moving things around, the crowd shifted and braced themselves for what was coming up next.
The band took the stage and, although it’s been over forty years since they started, it felt like nothing had changed. All of the members definitely look a bit older than I remembered them looking but that punk rock attitude never seemed to leave these guys. Keyboardist Monty Oxymoron took the stage first wearing plaid paints and a psychedelic shirt. His curly black hair that formed almost a fro bounced up and down as he played the intro music for his bandmates. One by one, the members took the stage and were greeted by some of the loudest cheering I had ever heard. When it was time for vocalist Dave Vanian to take the stage I’m pretty sure I lost all of my hearing even with my earplugs in. Dave took the stage looking very dapper with his hair greased back, an elegant looking outfit, and his black gloves. He took the microphone and, within the first word, the crowd was transported back to a different time.
The Damned powered through a set of sixteen songs that spanned their entire career. It didn’t matter what year or what album the song came from, the crowd was singing and jumping along. In between songs, there was plenty of banter between band members and the crowd. This helped the band feel more like friends than the legends they are and, when you add that to the intimate venue, the fans were truly left with once in a lifetime experience. The band members were quick witted and smart-assy just the way they were in all of those old Youtube videos I used to obsess over. Although they weren’t jumping and running around as much as they did in those old videos, there was still a sense of energy that you would expect from a punk rock show and it was perfection.
Even after the sixteen songs, the crowd hadn’t had enough so the band came back out for a three song encore. After those three songs, the crowd was left pleading for just one more song and the band obliged. The Damned came back out to play their final song, “Antipope”, to the sold out crowd. As the final note rang out throughout the venue, people slowly wandered towards the door and into the bustling streets of Minneapolis.