Poptone bring balance to the Force at First Avenue


Nature does not like things to be imbalanced. Where there is light there must be darkness. This holds for this holds for the weather, life, the force (at least according to Star Wars fans), and yes, music as well. So with two days of upbeat, happy music and sunshine on hand at the Basilica Block party, what could balance out that much sweetness? Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Poptone at First Avenue…….

Poptone? That sounds rather happy? Well don’t let the name fool you, it fooled me until I looked at the names behind the curtain. Daniel Ash and Kevin Haskins both of Bauhaus, Tones On Tail, and Love and Rockets fame. Earlier this year it was announced that the two of them had formed the two of them had reunited and were performing music from their extensive body of work and that the band was rounded out by Haskin’s daughter Diva Dompe. The first dates were a success and a tour ensued which brought our paths together at First Avenue on a Saturday Night.

I arrived a bit late and only caught the tail end of opener Trance Farmers a musical project by Dayve Samek. Once again, the name fools, no trance/club music here. The impressions I got were wild guitar chords, a distinct psychedelic vibe (oh, maybe that sort of trance?) and vocals that somehow reminded me of the Ramones. Judging by the applause and cheering fans quite enjoyed Trance Farmers’ set.

Of course the event would not be held without DJ Jake Rudh providing music before, between sets, and for an after party. And Rudh did let his dark side come out to play – there even may or may not have been a Black Sabbath track. Poptone’s merch booth stood out to me with a very large selection of shirts and other items that seemed to rival bands touring much larger venues without the over inflated price tags of arena shows.  

After a short instrumental intro, Poptone took the stage to open with Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel”, what? It took me a few bars to even recognize the song. “Movement of Fear” live retained its unique sound with outstanding lights plunging First Avenue into a dark, eerie, submersive atmosphere with Ash on saxophone. Lights and sound brightened up a bit and even some dancing ensued. The crowd was an interesting mix of old and young fans, wearing mostly black but I did encounter 2 flowing summer dresses – Is nothing sacred anymore? One cool moment was Ash letting the guitar swing back and forth like a pendulum and letting his finger slide on the strings creating a rather unusual sound. Haskins’ drumming was on point, not sure if it was my spot in the pit or me being weird, but at some point I wrote in my notebook “Cowbell” there seemed to have been a lot of it – or maybe it was just me still hearing them after covering a Triathlon earlier that day. Diva Dompe was impressive as well playing bass, keyboards and some percussion.

David Bowie and Adam Ant songs were also covered and the single Bauhaus song of the set was performed as part of the encore. All said, Poptone lives up to the great music that it was founded to perform and I highly recommend their live show to anyone.

Set List: Heartbreak / Pops / Mirror People / Movement / Happiness / No Big Deal / Lions / Twist / Love Me / Performance / American Dream / Christian Says / Only One / Cracked Actor /  Encore 1 – Physical / Flame On / Go Encore 2 –  Slice Of Life / Sweet F.A.