With St. Patrick’s Day falling on a Friday this year, there was no shortage of things to do in the Twin Cities for those looking for something that would likely involve green beer and that one guy who is really feeling his green suspenders and “kiss me I’m Irish” shirt. Just about every venue in town had a show or event going on from St. Paul to Minneapolis and everywhere in between. However, I was lucky enough (get it, lucky) to find myself at The Parkway Theater for an evening of great music. Last night’s lineup featured a slew of bands, mainly from the Twin Cities. While there was no green beer there was inexpensive Bud Lights in green cans, which was a close second. And there were definitely a few dudes way too stoked on their green suspenders and Guinness hats.
Kicking off the evening was If Eye May, the four-piece rock band based in “heat of Minnesota,” according to their social media. I only caught the tail end of If Eye May’s set because we were upstairs chatting to Josh Ripley of (the headlining band) The Missing Letters. Josh’s brother Jake Ripley is one of the guitarist for If Eye May, so it was fun to see that last night would be a bit of a family affair. However, when I finally made it down to the stage, If Eye May was rocking The Parkway Theater’s stage, sans shirts. There was definitely a youthfulness and goofiness to their set, no shirts, drunk dude in the front throwing popcorn, but I wouldn’t have expect anything else to kick off a St. Patrick’s Day show. If Eye May’s sound was definitely solid with strong vocals. I look forward to hopefully seeing more of If Eye May in the coming months!
Up next was Des Moines, IA based Hazer. This was the only band on the ticket for the evening not from the Twin Cities, but hey – close enough. Hazer definitely have a heavier, bluesy rock sound mixing in distorted vocals on a few of the tracks. I was most struck with the frontman’s vocals. Hazer had probably one of the loudest sets of the evening full of tight riffs and plenty of drums. Hazer’s set simply put was good old fashioned rock n roll, again the perfect soundtrack for a holiday that has pretty much just become about how much beer you can drink. Hazer played through their roughly 40 minute set with a sense of urgency and intensity, definetly leaving an impression on this Minneapolis crowd.
Finally, taking to the stage a little before 10:00 pm was one of our favorite new bands – XIII Arrows. We’ve been following XIII Arrows here at Twin Cities Media since the release of their debut EP late last year. I first had the chance to see XIII Arrows down at The Entry before Christmas (for the Festivus celebration :)) . But last night I felt like I was watching a whole new band, and I mean that in the best possible way. Their set in December at The Entry was a knock out performance, but XIII Arrows played The Parkway last night with a new confidence that I didn’t see in December. It seems that these dudes are really hitting a stride and coming into their own as a band. Frontman Mike Borrell commanded the stage last night with the presence of a true frontman. His vocals were gritty and each song was sung with an anthemic quality, songs that would sound great on a festival stage somewhere. Their set featured tracks off their first EP as well as a handful of new tracks (full set list below). Borrell mentioned they will be releasing another EP later this spring and if the new songs they previewed last night’s were any indicator definitely expect that new EP to bang. Borrell’s quiet confidence on stage is perfectly balanced by bassist Harrison Koehler Wood’s (fondly, I think, referred to as Harry The Butcher) infectious stage presence. The chemistry these guys have on stage is very cool, each balancing each other out, ensuring nothing is overdone. Supporting Borrell and Wood is the Rickert brothers – Eddie and John, guitar/vocals and drums (respectively). Maybe it was the luck of the Irish, but something about last night’s performance from XIII Arrows was magical. I truly felt I was watching a band poised for big things. I woke up this morning with One Night Man stuck in my head. We will be anxiously awaiting that new EP and more live shows from these guys!
Set List: Intro / Doubt About It / One Night Man / Run Away / Souldier / Land of 10K Lovers / This Time Around / Mississippi Queen / Wishbone
And closing out the evening was The Missing Letters. Ahead of the show, we had the chance to sit down and chat with this four-piece band, all hailing from the greater Twin Cities’ area. After chatting with The Missing Letters and watching their live set, it’s clear these are dudes that also have potential for big things. Not only do they have the commitment and the focus, but each member of the band seems to be working to perfect their craft by continually pushing themselves to be the best that they can be. It was clear that The Parkway last night was full of friends and family but The Missing Letter had the crowd dancing and singing along through their roughly hour-long set, the perfect close to an evening of good old fashioned, uncomplicated rock music. “I see a lot of beautiful familiar faces out there! I hope to some more that become familiar,” vocalist Bryan said at one point.
The Missing Letters played a handful of songs of their debut EP, as well some unreleased tracks. The Missing Letters will also be heading back to the studio so last night’s set was a preview of what’s to come from this four-piece. A highlight from their set was definitely their cover of The Raconteurs “Steady As She Goes,” which of course had the crowd singing along. I was absolutely blown away by both vocalists, Josh and Bryan, as well as the rest of the band. Their set was polished from top to bottom, making for just feel good jams. These guys are getting ready to head out on tour with Adelitas Way, which will be a great catalyst for these continue to build upon some of the success and exposure they’ve experienced. “It’s been a bit of a rough year for us, we crashed our van out in Colorado. But then you being here and supporting us, we couldn’t do it without you,” frontman Bryan told the crowd. The hard work these guys are putting in is clearly paying off, and last night’s polished and focused set was an indicator of that.
So even though there was no green beer, the great live music from all four of these bands more than made up for it! Of all the place to spend to St. Patricks, we were lucky enough to spend it down at amazing The Parkway Theater!