Minnesota’s local talent was on display at The Parkway Theater on Friday night. Four great bands took over The Parkway for an evening of music, beer, dancing and an ode to Star Wars.
Kicking off the evening was Minneapolis duo Johnny Yuma. This duo is made up of Elliott Heerman and Jane Halldorson, guitar/vocals and drums, respectively. Halldorson kicked off the set with a trumpet rendition of the Star Wars theme song, which was just one of many odes to Star Wars for the evening. Aesthetically, Johnny Yuma was rocking an Addams Family vibe. Halldorson with a Wednesday Addams look and Heerman’s long hair as Cousin It. Musically however I was reminded of The White Stripes. There was a very gritty, rock n’ roll quality their set which left me hooked and wanting more. Overall, Johnny Yuma’s set was a knock out. Even after a quick fumble on the start of one of their songs, they played through like champs and didn’t lose their momentum.Up next was Vital Vice, an alternative rock 5-piece, again based right here in Minneapolis. Vital Vice’s set was an eclectic blend of bluesy guitars, synths keys and hooky bass lines – making for some of the most ear-wormy, catchy songs of the evening. Their sound seemed to draw from a lot of 80’s influences, a few songs even reminding my photographer and I of an 80’s movie soundtrack – think Risky Business or Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Vital Vice had a very Big Country feel, one of the great Scottish rock bands of the 80’s. Strong vocals from frontman Brandon Elliott made for an engaging set. These guys seem to have a lot of potential and we look forward to hopefully seeing more in the near future. The evening rolled on, the drinks flowed and the stage was flipped for The Modern Era. This four-piece is Jack Swagger (vocal/guitar), Ben Pelowski (vocal/guitars), Nick Pelowski (vocals/bass) and Bob Joslyn (drums). The Parkway Theater even got an added bonus last night with a little help from Jake Kemble of Boomtown Riot on guitar. The Modern Era seemed to have a control button on the room and turned the energy all the way up to 100. They got the crowd dancing and moshing around with their pop-punky sound.”This is our first time at The Parkway. It seems to be going pretty good so far, but we still have time to fuck this up,” vocalist and guitarist Jack Swagger said. F-it up they did not. TME put on what was perhaps the most energy-filled sets of the evening – complete with mic-tricks, monitor jumps and no shortage of showmanship. The crowd at The Parkway was eating up their every move making for just a hell of a fun set. And finally, the darlings of the evening themselves – The Missing Letters. We first caught this four-piece back at The Parkway in March with our other friends – XIII Arrows. Since then, The Missing Letters have embarked on a national tour and played a slew of shows across the US. Last night at The Parkway I felt like I was seeing a new band. They took to the stage (Star Wars t-shirts and all), with a fresh confidence and commanding stage presence. Their set was polished and controlled and their sound was tight. Shannon Drymalski played with seemingly boundless energy on drums. Bassist Johnny Naughton-Capello commanded the stage with confidence. Josh Ripley’s vocals were smooth as ever and really commanded the crowd with a true-frontman energy. And finally Bryan Murphy, fellow frontman and vocalist/guitarist held things down at center stage. I was just as blown away by Murphy’s vocals this time as when we first saw them back in March.
The Missing Letters played a handful of songs off their debut EP Lucille as well as some new tracks, which we expect to be recorded soon. The Missing Letters time on the road really seemed to have served them well, coming back with even more power, more confidence, and more energy than the show in March. We’re excited to see plenty, plenty more from these guys in the coming months as they continue hone their oh-so-catchy sound. Stay tuned.Set List: Intro / Inmanic / Lucielle/ 36’d / Quiet Means / Nothing At All / Steady As She Goes / FM / Conscience of a Badman / Back When You Were Mine / Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell / Anything But This / Tonight