My boyfriend was having a rough night last night. I could tell by the texts I was getting from him. Something was off. I’ve been trying really hard to talk things out lately but, as someone who just has never been a talker, it has been a challenge but I knew I needed to do something. Music is me. Concerts is me and when words fail me or something feels off, I go to a show. I don’t know if that’s what he needed on Thursday night but that’s what he got. I scarfed down my dinner, picked him up, and we made our way to First Avenue. I wanted two things out of the night. I wanted him out of his funk and I wanted a hell of a show. We ended up getting both and then some.
One of the few things Iowa got right was The Rumours; they were first to the stage. A straight-up rock n’ roll band with a slight punk-tinged edge and an 80’s glam look, they blasted into their opening set with a sense of fury and power that was enough to shake anyone out of whatever funk they found themselves in. This trio has so much energy and intensity when it comes to their stage presence where, even if the music isn’t for you, you just can’t keep your eyes off the stage. I’ll be honest, their music isn’t really for me. Sure, there were moments that I loved because I was getting The Distillers vibes from the vocals but, overall, the music is just a bit dated feeling to me. That sounds much harsher than I mean it to but I truly just can’t think of a better word or phrase to use. From the synchronized moves between the guitarist and vocalist to the attitude that came with every word, although it wasn’t right up my alley, it was up an alley I would love to explore a bit more.
Bob Vylan is a duo. That’s it, just a duo but the amount of energy that Bobby and his drummer brought to the stage was absolutely jaw-dropping. As Bobby and his drummer did their stretches and light mediation, I could feel that something was about to happen but I had no clue what it was. Within the first song, Bobby had leaped from the stage straight into the crowd and, towards the end of the set, he would do it again. Bob Vylan’s music is a bit of everything and refuses to be put in a box. Taking nods from everything from hardcore to grime to hip-hop— it’s truly a sound that must be heard to truly understand but, even listening to them won’t do them justice. Their live show was just absolutely stunning and although I had never heard their music before, I found myself relating to their social justice-based lyrics and just overall love for their craft. Can you tell I’m fumbling and struggling for words? I truly apologize but I was honestly just completely in shock and trying to take it all in while texting everyone I knew about what was happening. I have seen 325 acts thus far this year and, if I stay on track, I will probably have that doubled by the end of the year but, mark my words– Bob Vylan will be in my top ten of the year. 100%.
Who are Amyl & The Sniffers? Honestly, I had no clue as I walked into First Avenue on Thursday night. All I knew is that it seemed like everyone had been talking about them and they had just played the Fine Line a few months ago but, on Thursday, were playing a next-to-sold-out show at First Avenue’s main room. What does that say to me? That says that I have to stop everything and check it out. There’s something about this band that I just can’t ignore so, as I so often do, I blindly waited for the band to take the stage. Within no time, the Australian four-piece took the stage, and almost instantly the crowd turned into a sweaty mess with drinks and bodies flying above.
There’s something gritty about not only Amyl & The Sniffers’ sound but also their performance. It’s raw and far from flawless but that’s what makes it perfect. Vocalist Amy Taylor’s presence is almost threatening and intimidating at times with the way she stalks the stage and gets up in people’s faces but there’s also something playful about it. Really, the entire band was on point but it was all eyes on Amy with the way she just could not stand still to save her life. I can’t tell you how many songs they played or what songs they played but I can tell you that as they left the stage after a solid hour of constant performing, I was truly hoping for an encore and was super disappointed as the house lights and music came on. Maybe it was because I was still in a haze from Bob Vylan’s set or maybe it was that last drink hitting me in just the right way but I felt like I just didn’t get enough from Amyl & The Sniffers. That being said, I couldn’t tell you what would be enough. It was one of those sets that had me so captivated, so enthralled, that I don’t think any amount of time would be enough.