Photos by David Rubene
Most shows have at least one band that doesn’t quite get me going. It’s not that there’s always a bad band on a show, more just one doesn’t shine as bright as the others. That was definitely not the case last night. Every single band that graced the stage at The Triple Rock on Sunday night blew me away leaving me, and the rest of the crowd, with a damn near perfect night.
Local queercore favorites Contentious opened up the show with their signature sense of brutality. Their quick, fifteen minute set was the most intense fifteen minutes of music during the night. As soon as Natalie, the singer, raised the microphone to her mouth, you felt her extreme voice as if it were a punch in the gut. The driving guitars and booming drums were like non stop kicks to the face. I suppose it doesn’t sound too pleasant when I put it that way but being able to see Contentious live is always a treat for me. Their music is extreme, their energy is beyond extreme and they were the perfect band to kick off a sleepy Sunday show.
Following the quick, yet intense, set from Contentious was Florida based hardcore group Gouge Away. Much like Contentious, there was a sense of brutality that radiated off the stage during their twenty minute set. Christina, the vocalist, had a sense of beauty to her voice but there was also this insane intensity about it. Her voice littered the songs with the most perfect squeals and cracks that set these guys apart from so many other bands in this vein of music. The best part? She didn’t even seem to be trying. All four members of this band played through their set with ease and like it was no big deal but it was a big deal. They were so polished, so clean yet still had the edginess that you want from a hardcore band playing at The Triple Rock. To say I fell in love with this group instantly wouldn’t be a stretch and I can’t wait to catch them again.
Single Mothers was up next and, much like Gouge Away, even though I had never heard their music prior to the show, I was instantly in love. Single Mothers had the same sense of intensity as the previous two bands but their brand of music was a wee bit less abrasive. This Canadian four piece may have been through no less than sixteen different members throughout their lifespan of a band but that didn’t stop their raw, punk rock sounds from coming off as completely together. The group had a cohesiveness to it that made for a truly dynamic live show. Majority of their set was spent with my eyes on singer Andrew Thomson. He had an electric energy about him that was impossible to ignore and truly got the crowd going. I regret not looking into Single Mothers prior to last night’s show because I was jealous of how majority of the crowd was singing and stomping along to the music. I definitely learned my lesson and promise to be prepared next time to come to Minnesota.
Closing out the night was the ever-powerful Touché Amoré. I don’t even know what to say about these guys. Their music is intense, brutal, beautiful, and heartbreaking all at the same time. Singer Jeremy Bolm has some of the most intense and haunting lyrics I have ever heard in my life. The words can make you feel something that you have never felt before and, if you’re not careful, it’s super easy to get lost in the beauty of every word he says. When the words are sang with the sense of conviction that Jeremy gives off along with the post-hardcore music that the band behind him brings to the table, you get an experience. Not just a concert. Throw in a crowd that wasn’t going to let the night pass them by without getting sweaty and up close and personal to this band and you get a very intense, very emotional set.
With four full length albums, a couple of EPs, and far too many split albums to list, Touché Amoré is far from a new band. In the nearly ten years that this group has been in existence, they have created a die hard fan base with ease. I think that most of that can be attributed to the pure honesty and wholeheartedness that Jeremy gives off when addressing the crowd. When he thanked all of the bands that played previously last night, you could feel that he meant it. When he talked about how intense and amazing Contentious’ set was, you knew he was telling the truth because he could be spotted watching their entire set. Sounds like a small thing but it’s not. To have a headliner watch the entire set of the sole local opener and then bring up exactly why he liked it is something that doesn’t happen enough in this world. The amount of respect that this band has for, not only the other bands, but the scene in general, is something that makes them stand out in a post-hardcore scene that is starting to get a little over populated.
The best part of the night happened in the middle of Touché Amoré’s set. Guitarist Clayton Stevens played a single chord and let it ring out while the rest of the band finished their sips of water and all you heard from the crowd was a guy say. “Fuck!”. That really said it all and, as Jeremy let out a little chuckle, the band kicked of the song and instantly the stage was flooded with no less than four stage divers almost taking Jeremy out at the knees. The intensity of that single moment was more than enough to give me goosebumps. It wasn’t just the intensity of the band that impressed me, but the emotion that radiated from the crowd that was constantly pushing their way closer to the stage was what really made last night’s show incredible.
There was no alcohol served at the show last night being that it was all ages and the music was done by 9:30 which meant I was home and in bed by 10. Some people would say that that sounds like a terrible night but last night was magical. Because there was no alcohol, there was no drama and, since it was an early show, it seemed like people were giving their all to the bands because they knew they had plenty of time to recover before their Monday officially started. Last night was one of those perfect shows and I feel bad for whoever missed out on it.