Minneapolis band We are the Willows is celebrated the release of their new album Picture (Portrait) Part 2 Saturday at the Icehouse. Composed of Peter Michael Miller, Jeremiah Satterthwaite, Leah Ottman, Stephen Lindquist, Travis Collins, and Hilary James the six-piece band based their new album on letters written by Miller’s Grandfather.
Opening the night was Monica Martin the singer of Wisconsin folk group Phox. Her set felt a bit improvised but was charming in its own may. From the song introductions “Here another song about the same asshole” to getting the audience to help out with the lyrics to Crowded House’s “Don’t dream it’s over”. Her voice and personality carried her over any rough spots and she had the audience cheering quite loudly at the end of her set. It was great to see her working her way through her challenges and delivering in the end.
We are the Willows pretty much filled the small stage at the Icehouse. The while their instruments may include a cello and a violin their live sound is actually quite modern and upbeat. Their lyrics may deal with family, separation, life, death, and identity based on letters written in WWII but the brightness of their music delivers them smoothly. The combination of Miller’s vocals with Ottman’s and Jame’s make for some interesting harmonies. Miller shared an unusual dream that ended with the band roller-skating at the icehouse, fearing that that would have been way cooler than their planned show. Seems and Seams brought Monica Martin back to the stage (she is also on the record). Overall I enjoyed We are the Willows set quite a bit.