Saturday night’s show didn’t start until a little after 11. Now, don’t get me wrong, I can party with the rest of them but staying awake until 10PM to leave for the show was a little rough. I found myself dozing off on the couch until my friend texted me saying he was heading over to meet me for the freezing six block walk to the venue. After a quick cup of coffee, I ventured out into the cold November air, met up with my friend Casey and we made our way up to The Icehouse.
As we walked into the venue, we were greeted with people in costumes and a venue full of cobwebs. Yes, it was definitely a Halloween show and the mood in the quickly filling venue was definitely a party mood. After grabbing a drink at the bar, Casey and I found a spot to claim as our own and waited for the music to start. The people watching was prime. There were people who had clearly gone all out with their costume and others like Casey and I who had no costume on. Majority of the crowd had thrown a funny hat on their head and were trying to pull it off as a creative costume but they weren’t fooling me. After a short delay and another drink, Dem Atlas took the stage to a sold out crowd.
Twin Cities based Dem Atlas, born Joshua Turner, is easily one of my favorite rappers in the local scene and, when you live in a city that is home to Doomtree and Rhymesayers, that’s really saying something. I’ve always been in awe of his energy on stage and the vocal power that he performs with. His live shows are electric whether he’s opening or headlining a show and last night was no different. Within the first song of his opening set last night he had the crowd with their hands in their air and their heads nodding along to the beats that were blaring through the speakers. Dem Atlas danced his way through the set as he got the crowd riled up. Although the stage was just him and some spooky gravestone decorations, he had the same amount of energy as many of the full bands I see.
As if his energy and charming smile wasn’t enough, Dem Atlas’ music is something that must be discussed. He has the classic Minnesota rap vibe about him. He sings about real life issues instead of going to the club and sipping on syzzyrp or whatever the kids are doing these days. His relateable lyrics are always served with a smile and a sense of realness that I’ve only ever found in the local rap scene. Having seen Dem Atlas multiple times, I had gotten a feel for what songs his set list usually contains. Last night he presented some new songs that I had never heard of before. The nice thing was, even though he is quickly gaining fame locally and nationally, his new songs still stay true to the sound and vibe that had me falling in love with him the first time I heard him. Every song fit together as a cohesive set list yet each song had a different feel. It may have been around midnight by the time his set ended but, due to his energy and the freshness of his set, I had completely forgotten about how late it was and was ready for the night to continue on (after another drink of course).
Last night wasn’t just about celebrating Halloween and one of the best rappers in our scene, it was actually more about local band Graveyard Club and the release of their new single “Ouija”. I had never heard of Graveyard Club before last night’s show but with a band name like that and it being the weekend before Halloween– I mean, come on– I just couldn’t pass that up. A couple of my friends warned me that their music might not quite be my cup of tea. Oh, how they underestimate my strange taste in music.
Within the first song, I was in love with Graveyard Club. Singer Matthew Schufman had a voice that was worthy of the early 1900’s crooner generation. It was dark and low yet incredibly smooth. The darkness of his voice mixed with the facepaint turning each of the four members into a skeleton left the crowd with a perfect Halloween night set. His vocals danced on top of the classic 1980’s synth-pop sounds coming from the other instruments in the band leaving with a truly unique sound. Even though the darkness of Matthew’s voice caught my ear more than anything else, the sound of the band as a whole wasn’t dark at all. It was actually quite dancey due to the heavy synth sounds and the upbeat drum patterns.
Much like Dem Atlas’ set, every song that Graveyard Club played had a different vibe to it while still staying a cohesive set. Some songs featured bassist Amanda Zimmerman on back-up vocals. The way her soft and sweet voice collided with Matthew’s strong and dark voice created a complete soundscape. It loved the way that they didn’t was that strong pairing of voices constantly through the set because, when it happened, it hit you like a ton of bricks and had you intrigued and ready to hear more. Having been a band since 2013, I’m a bit bummed that I have missed out on so many years of this great band. After seeing them last night, I can tell you with complete certainty that this will not be the last time I write about this band. I look forward to being able to catch them again soon!
There were a million and twelve shows going on last night that I wanted to go to. Usually, once I pick one, I spend my night wondering how the other shows are going. Not last night. I was lost in the music and atmosphere and knew I had made the right choice.