Many Minnesotan stayed home Monday night to watch the Vikings-Seahawks on Monday Night Football. With the Vikes on the road, the game in town was Monday Night Music at the 7th Street Entry. The winning line-up was XIII Arrows, The Push, and Shamble Town Rebels. The other winners were everyone there that were spared from watching the Vikings ugly performance and the Seahawks ugly florescent uniforms.
The opening band, Shamble Town Rebels, made their debut performance tonight. However, it was quite clear that Cole Allen was no rookie performer. This is a new project for the accomplished blues-rock guitarist Allen along with his friend Eli Prottengeier. “We have played music together since we were 14 and always talked about having a band together. We finally decided to do it,” explained Allen. Previously he toured with his own Cole Allen Band and as lead guitarist in other bands. His new Shamble Town Rebels is a band of two. That means guitarist and drummer; no bass player. With no bass, it’s up to the drummer to produce the deep rhythm with his loud mic’d bass drum. Prottengeier did great and you could have fooled me if you said he was a ten-year veteran. I really liked a song named “Blood Simple” that Allen said was a new one. But that was apparently only new if using the typical measurement scale of days, weeks, or months. The next would have to be classified as a “new, new one” since they said they wrote it today! Just hours old! I would have to call their debut a success. I’m intrigued to both check out some of the previous work of Cole Allen but also to follow what comes next for the new Shamble Town Rebels.
The order of the bands for this concert was unusual. Normally the opening bands go first, then the headliner plays last. I never heard why but tonight we had an opening band, the headliner, and then a closing band. Maybe it will be the new concert formula, giving the headliner the cushy prime time slot and more sleep. Anyway, next up was the headliner, XIII Arrows. I was excited to see the band for the first time after hearing great things about them from other colleagues at TCM (Dave, Jessica, and Langen) that have covered them. They seemed so fond of the band, I actually asked if I should step aside and let them cover the show. But instead, you are stuck with me!
I’d been listening to a couple of their EP’s to gain some familiarity before the show. I didn’t recognize the opening song “Fine Little Lover,” but it proved to be a catchy icebreaker. Next was “I Need You,” a song I recognized from The Pearl Sessions EP. What a difference it was hearing the song live. While I enjoyed the recorded version, I instantly realized this is a band built for playing live shows. They have clearly found their own style. Nothing fancy, but an honest and comfortable sound; a mix of rock, blues, with a tinge of country. Dirty enough that you picture them packing any motorcycle bar that put them on stage. A raw and timeless sound that would have been popular in the 1960’s and may still be popular with us centenarians in the 2060’s ( I can’t wait to get wheeled up to the front row at the nursing home show). They live on the back edge of the beat, dragging the pace to where you feel they will fall behind but never do. The listener is forced to sit back and relax while letting the stress of the day melt away. At the same time, each song boils into one or multiple peaks of intensity that draws you back to the task at hand.
Mike Borrell’s singing makes me think of Elvis (young Elvis to be exact). Like another Michael (my all-time favorite singer Michael Poulsen of Volbeat) he’s been influenced by the best but has carved out his own style: a strong, clear, beckoning voice that can also be shifted to gritty, raspy vocals where fitting. The background vocals with many varieties of woo-woo’s are also a fun and essential piece of their musical puzzle. Wood wears his bass up high and is an integral part of the supporting vocals. The brothers Rickert each do their thing so well. The birthday boy doesn’t try to play anything overly complex, but if he did it would seem out of place. Instead he plays meaningful and soulful chords and licks and did a great job of staying sober despite some beverage gift offerings dropped off at his feet. John Rickert found himself in the dark back corner of the Entry stage but made his presence know with his solid work. Nothing flashy, but like the entire band, that is part of the draw. Simple, honest, good music.
Getting back to the show, up now was “Call the Boys,” the latest single paired with a video release just a few months ago. Here is a real anthem; the type you could hear played in the intro video at a Wild game. Next I was happy to hear them play my favorite from my EP homework, “How Can You Rock?” The feel good lyrics “How can you rock me…… if you don’t know how I roll?” are golden. I actually like it’s country vibe (but would never admit that to my country music-convert daughter). The slower “Waiting” made for a third track off The Pearl Sessions before the band thanked the Entry crowd for making it out on a Monday night. Bass player Harrison Kohler Wood continued, “It’s been about two years since we’ve played here for our first show. We are kind of celebrating our 2nd birthday as a band, but we have an actual birthday boy on lead guitar tonight.” After a toast to the birthday boy Eddie Rickert, he said they have some new songs they would share with us. That is always a special treat for concert-goers, to hear new material before it gets released or even out there on social media.
The first one, “Broken Record,” was recorded on video by Twin Cities Media down in the band’s basement practice area. The next creation was a “Long Way From Home” and concluded with drummer John Rickert playing the cymbal with his bare hands for its soft ending. They announced the band would be releasing some new singles very soon and one they were really excited about the next song called “Bad Little Habit.” I can see why. It has plenty of energy and this one got the fans clapping along. One song that I found quite unique they said is about a cowboy that had too much to drink and carries the working title “Randy Travis.” Definitely a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll with that one.
After telling the crowd that like other bands, they have t-shirts and CD’s for sale, someone from the crowd asked the strange question, “Do you have BLT’s?” Borrell chuckled and answered, “No, we don’t have BLT’s. But if we did, I bet we could sell a lot of them.” The next song would be about meat though. About getting the short end of the “Wishbone.” This was my favorite track off of the This Time Around EP. Again, much more impressive in concert. John Rickert really creates a deep loud rumble on drums with this one and Borrell’s vocals are more ferocious than on other songs. Bassist Wood blew a mist of whiskey into the air before capping off the wildest song of the night. The crowd gave their loudest roar of approval sensing the show was nearing completion.
For their closing song they also selected yet another new song that will be released soon. Starting slowly, “Right Here” kicked into gear with some strong guitar and was yet another strong creation. For an encore number they played yet another new one, so new that they don’t even have the ending ironed out yet. The boys have been busy in that dungeon. With all of these new songs you should keep an eye on the band’s website and Facebook page for new singles or videos that get released. I am no longer a XIII Arrows virgin and it was a memorable experience.
XIII Setlist: Fine Little Lover / I Need You / Call the Boys / How Can You Rock? / Waiting / Broken Record / Long Way From Home / Bad Little Habit / Randy Travis / One Night Man / Wishbone / Right Here
Encore: Unnamed new song
Consider The Push the new Mariano Rivera of Entry bands. The Minneapolis duo of singer/guitarist Anthony Jones and drummer Mark Puder do add a bass player for gigs. Tonight was different guest on the thick strings than was with them back in October, opening for cleopatrick at the Amsterdam. I had a chance to visit with Jones at that show and was looking forward to seeing their show again so soon. The Push have more of a grunge-rock style than the preceding bands. The thin long-haired Jones was aptly dressed in ripped jeans and a flannel and started with a weird instrumental set before kicking into actual songs for most that stuck around after XIII Arrows.
The Push have an eight-song album, Oh, Victory, that you can find out there in digital music land. We learned tonight from Jones that they just finished the long process of completing their second album. It was produced by Grammy-nominated Aaron Gillespie and they are anxiously awaiting the right time for its release. Tonight they shared a few new songs from their upcoming album. For the second new one, Jones asked the sound booth for more bass. “Who wants more bass?” he surveyed the crowd. Enough to vibrate the back wall I was leaning against by the sound booth. Impressive. They had opened with “Prisoner” and “Kings and Thieves” from Oh, Victory sandwiched around another strong song called “Monster.” They also closed with their most well known songs from their debut album, “Dead Eyes” and “Controller.”
The highlight of their set had to be when fun loving drummer Puder stood on his stool and then proceeded to jump up and pull himself up into the rafters above his drum set. “That’s Mark,” Anthony stated matter-of-factly. After trying to play the drums while hanging by his legs, he climbed back down and said, “I’ve always wanted to do that.” Remember, watch for The Push’s new album to be released soon.
Just a few closing comments. The Vikings lost 21-7 and you lost three hours you will never get back. Instead I enjoyed three bands that I may still fondly remember when I hit triple digits. Do like me and consider skipping a sporting event and take in some live music instead. To be frank, we are not blessed with great sports teams in Minnesota (but they say it builds character.) However, we are tremendously blessed with a great music scene in the Twin Cities. So much so that TCM reviews over 450 shows a year and that’s only a fraction of all of the concerts! We hope to see you at a show soon. Just one more thing, XIII Arrows says, “Dave’s the man!”