The Varsity Theater has been closed for a couple of years now. It closed due to drama with the owner and nothing else. It was a deafening blow to the Twin Cities music scene. Whether you like being in Dinkytown (the area surrounding the University of Minnesota) or not, there’s no denying that The Varsity was a great venue and brought top notch acts to town. After a period of silence from the venue, someone bought it up, fixed it up, cleaned house on the staff, and wah-la- we have The Varsity back. To say I was excited walking into the familiar stomping grounds last night would be an understatement. The fact that I was there to see New Politics- a band that completely blew me away the first time I saw them- was just the icing on the damn cake.
There were definitely some notable changes in the venue as my photographer and I walked in. Increased security, band merch upstairs instead of inconveniently placed near the entrance, brand new faces in the box office, one of the platforms that lined the audience areas was gone but you know what, it felt great to be back and walking back into this venue that I saw so many amazing shows at was like a breath of fresh air. Also, don’t fret– that amazing wonder that is their bathroom (I mean, you really have to see this thing, there’s even a documentary about it!) hasn’t changed at all. You still feel like you’re pissing in a Hobbit hole (watch the documentary or look at pictures for clarification and then tell me I’m wrong… I dare you).
Okay, before I get all emotional about how amazing this venue is and how excited I am to have it back and before I rant about all of the changes that they are going to need to make in order to keep this venue as strong as it can be (new venues have kinks to work out, I get it)– maybe I should talk about the show I was there to see.
The super early night kicked off right at 6PM with The Wrecks. Hailing from Los Angeles, California, this five piece may not quite be a household name yet but I’d be willing to bet you’ve heard their breakout hit ‘Favorite Liar’ and sing along to it every time you hear it too. Singer Nick Anderson has a very distinctive voice to the point where when walking into the show I didn’t think I knew who they were but, within a few words of the first song, I knew that he was the voice behind ‘Favorite Liar’. I love when bands surprise you like that. When you walk into a show thinking you know nothing and end up hearing a song you were just singing that morning in the shower. The Wrecks’ set was short and sweet but was also packed full of electric energy that helped warm up the crowd as everyone watched the snow start to fall through the windows.
Following The Wrecks was New York based Dreamers. Much like The Wrecks, I didn’t think I was familiar with this group but within just a few songs, I recognized a radio hit that I had been singing along to while stuck in traffic. Again, love those moments. Dreamers seemed a bit more laid back than The Wrecks when it came to their vibe. At first, their set had a very California vibe about it and seemed to pick up speed when it came towards the end of their short set. Being just a trio, I was blown away by the amount of power behind this band. Singer Nick Wold has a freaking voice on him that was nothing short of amazing. The power behind his vocals mixed with the perfection of bassist Marc Nelson and drummer Jacob Lee Wick amounted to a perfect, yet very rock & roll set from these youngsters. With only one full-length album and two EP’s out, it’s easy for me to tell you to expect more out of this young band. The future is bright for both Dreamers and The Wrecks and I can’t wait to see what happens!
Closing out the night was Danish rockers- New Politics. Now, I’m not a fan of a pop music but there’s something about this group that has me caught. It would be a stretch to call these guys edgy when it comes to their music but it would not be a stretch to say that they have a rockin’ live show that takes them out of the pop world and catapults them into the pop-punk(ish) world that I live in. With four albums out, this group is not a new thing but I also feel like they never really got the recognition they deserved. Sure, they had a couple of hits that made it onto the radio but they didn’t quite catch on like wildfire as I had suspected they would. If everyone who had ever heard one of their songs had seen them live, I think that would have changed.
New Politics is one of those bands that, although I don’t listen to them on a daily basis, I will never miss an opportunity to see them live. This trio knows exactly what they are doing when it comes to their live show. Each member has an individual personality that shines and adds a different dynamic to the group while still keeping a sense of cohesion between the members. Whether you’re watching dummer Louis Vecchio power away behind the kit, Søren Hansen behind the piano or with a guitar slung over his shoulder, or vocalist David Boyd as he serenaded the crowd with an undeniable sense of passion, there was something to catch your eye and something to keep the set feeling fresh and interesting. With whizzing lights and a light haze of fog over the stage, this group powered through an extensive twenty song set and never missed a beat.
New Politics’ set was full of great music, stunning energy, flips and head spins from David Boyd, and lots of smiles throughout the crowd. Pop fan or not, my friend caught me singing along a couple of times while doing my awkward dance moves and, you know what, I was happy. You should always be happy when you’re at a show and you should always be caught singing along to guilty pleasures while dancing like a fool.
When the show was all said and done, the young crowd spilled out into the winter wonderland that had been created while we were staying warm inside. Not even the snow and cold could erase the smiles on our faces.