“Minneapolis has got it going on. There’s a lot of talent in this town!” – James Dent May Jr. (of Dent May)
Is there really much more that needs to be said? I stress all the time that the local music scene here in the Twin Cities (regardless of genre) is a force to be reckoned with. Last night was yet another night that proved it.
The show was opened up by local celebrity Devata Daun (also know as Nikki of Pytch Records). Unfortunately, I ended up missing all of Devata Daun’s set. Per usual, I felt terrible. I also knew that, after seeing her a couple of times, she absolutely killed last night’s performance as she always does.
As Jessica (my friend and fellow blogger) and I made our way to the doors of the 7th Street Entry, we found ourselves fighting through the crowd of the sold out Sza show that had just let out in the main room of First Avenue. We dodged drunk chicks and avoided getting in the pictures people were taking in front of the iconic stars that are painted on the walls of First Avenue with names of famous performers. When we finally made it to the door of the Entry and walked inside, it was as if we felt instant relief and comfort. The hustle and bustle of downtown Minneapolis was behind us and we were instantly greeted by familiar faces, the familiar smile of our favorite bartender and our home away from home.
Suzie was the first band that we caught. Jessica had been harping on me just how great this band was and I was excited to finally get my chance to see them for myself. I had read all of her posts regarding this band and had seen the pictures. My expectations were high and, as the seven piece band took the stage, those expectations got even higher.
Suzie’s frontman, Mark Ritsema is a performance in himself. He took the stage wearing low cut pants and a crop top that said “YEAH” in a square of gold. His fluffy hair was all over the place and his sunglasses added a real rockstar feel to the whole get up. I had been told that Mark is unpredictable when it comes to his live shows and it was easy to see that being true. He seemed to be a bit laid back and chill last night. Jessica informed me that it was the calmest she had ever seen him but maybe that was a good thing for my first time seeing this group. Even though he looked eccentric, as soon as the music started, that unique look seemed to fall to the wayside and I was struck by the sounds coming out of the speakers.
The music was almost electro-pop but also a bit straight up indie. It had grooves that made you want to get up and move but also strings of notes and words that made you just want to lean back against the wall while sipping your drink. Although a bit calmer than I typically listen to, the music was intricate and interesting. My favorite element was the saxophone. Sure, maybe a little obvious that, out of all of the instruments on stage, I was struck by the odd man out with the horn, but I loved the way that they didn’t over do it. The saxophonist didn’t try to steal the spotlight, although I’m not sure anyone could steal the spotlight from Mark, but somehow ended up running away with the show.
With two drum sets, a keyboardist, bassist, guitarist, saxophone and vocals the stage was as full as the sound. I was surprised to find that, even with so much going on, it was done tastefully and didn’t feel like too much. Sure, it was loud but not overwhelming. The tactfulness of this band was more than enough to have me stuck in my corner with my eyes on the stage and ears on the speakers. Maybe last night’s show wasn’t the craziest show Suzie has ever put on but I was sold regardless. I can not wait to see these guys again and see all of the dimensions of this band.
The final act isn’t necessarily a local group as they are from Los Angeles, but two of the four members are actually ex-members of Suzie so I’ll go ahead and give them the “honorary local” ribbon. Dent May (born James Dent May Jr.) is a singer-songwriter with a voice that will make you stop dead in your tracks. His voice seems to belong in a dark lounge rather than a rock club but, somehow, it worked.
James’ voice paired almost hauntingly well with the voice of the extremely tall keyboardist. (Did I have to put that “extremely tall” part in? No. But this dude was seriously freaking tall.) Said keyboardist was one of the ex- Suzie members in this band. His high pitched voice was the perfect accent mark to Dent May’s music and I only wish I had been able to see him perform with Suzie. Although it was high pitched and almost unnatural, it didn’t come off as forced or uncomfortable. When you take the two juxtaposing voices and put them with the upbeat indie-pop instrumental parts going on behind them, you were left with a truly unique sound. I had honestly never heard anything like it before and I don’t think I want to hear anyone else try it. It takes a certain sense of control to pull off something that shouldn’t work so well and these guys are nailing it.
Not only did Dent May nail it musically, they nailed it when James said that Minneapolis truly has amazing music. Not a day goes by that I don’t thank my lucky stars that I ended up in such a creative and beautiful city with it’s own homemade soundtrack.