Though the holidays are just around the corner, the concert calendar around the Twin Cities doesn’t seem to mind. The local gig list is showing no signs of slowing down and Saturday night was no exception. Day Block Brewing in downtown Minneapolis played host to three great acts, including Twin Cities-based rockers XIII Arrows in celebration of their new album release. The latest album entitled The Pearl Sessions’ is officially out now and takes its’ name from the local studio where they recorded the five tracks that make up the album. Ahead of the show at Day Block – we had the chance to chat with XIII Arrows for a Track by Track. You can listen to the full conversation HERE.
XIII Arrows kicked off the Saturday night shortly after 9:30 pm and as I arrived at Day Block Brewing security was already turning away people at the door looking to buy tickets. If we’re not mistaken – this is the first sold-out show we’ve seen from XIII Arrows, and have a feeling it was the first of many more. XIII Arrows had the sidebar at Day Block absolutely packed from wall to wall with friends, family and music lovers alike to help celebrate the release of The Pearl Sessions.
It seems safe to say 2017 has been a year of progression for XIII Arrows. 2017 saw the release of two albums This Time Around and of course The Pearl Sessions. From The Entry to the Parkway and now Day Block, XIII Arrows has been showing their colors as a band this year. They seem to have cracked the code when it comes to booking shows too – not too much that they’re overdoing it but still often enough to keep themselves on the radar. There seems to be a deliberate intentionality driving XIII Arrows and the result is pure magic. Each set is a little different. Each time you go to a XIII Arrows show there is a sense of anticipation for what they are going to pull out of their bag of tricks – a bluesier sound, an epic, shredding guitar solo, a slower, swooning, heartfelt ballad. They have an ability to keep their live sets from ever feeling stale, while continuing stay true an identity and sound that is so distinctly XIII Arrows. I’m not sure if one would say 2017 was the “evolution” of XIII Arrows that culminated on Saturday at Day Block, but rather the peeling back of layers of XIII Arrows. They continue to piece by piece, layer by layer, album by album show a little more depth, complexity, and intrigue as a band.
Though the members who make up XIII Arrows have all been involved in bands and music in various capacities over the years – they continue to position themselves as one of the next big names in the Twin Cities music scene and beyond. There’s a ferver, gumption, and intensity to XIII Arrows’ live sets that is unmatched here in the Cities. This unabashed, finely calibrated and explosive energy was on full display on Saturday night. Their brooding, dark, percussion-soaked, rift-filled sound blends both the old and new. Though XIII Arrows isn’t reinventing the wheel when it comes to rock and roll, they are pioneering a sound here in the Twin Cities that we don’t get enough of. On any given night you can find a great electro-synth band or a great folk band or a great local rapper – but back to basics rock and roll is hard to come by around here. And XIII Arrows are picking up the torch and running with it.
Though 2017 was a bit of a slow-trickle from XIII Arrows, a show here and there, at Day Block on Saturday frontman Mike Borrell and bassist Harrison Kohler both expressed the band’s plans for 2018. “Lots more shows. We’ve been sitting on a lot of stuff but we’re excited to get out here and share with you all,” Kohler said in between songs. As always, seeing XIII Arrows left us wanting more, anxiously watching to see what they serve up next.
Saturday night’s set at Day Block featured both tracks from the new album as well the previous album – including Wishbone and Runaway. However, an undeniable stand out moment from the set was the whaling, rift-filled How Can You Rock off The Pearl Sessions. This song is an ear-wormy, headbanging, rift-drenched banger which has the makings of a barroom anthem. This track so perfectly highlights each member from Borrell’s gritty vocals to relentless guitar solo from Eddie Rickert. Johnny Rickert’s attack on this track showcases both his depth and control as drummer. Kohler’s playing can only be described as precise and fervid on his silky smooth sounding fretless bass.
Once again – XIII Arrows showed us they have plenty more tricks up their sleeves. Though Day Block was the last set of 2017 from these four – we hope 2018 is filled with plenty, plenty more.
Joining XIII Arrows at Day Block was two other local bands – The Modern Era and The Missing Letters. Taking to the stage after 10:30 was Minneapolis-based four-piece The Modern Era. Like XIII Arrows – we’ve seen The Modern Era hitting the local gig circuit this year. From the Pizza Luce Block Party to The Parkway – TME is bringing rock and roll back to the Twin Cities. In the land of folk and electo-synth and hip hop (all of which we love by the way) it is refreshing to see bands like The Modern Era keeping the spirit of punk-rock alive in the Twin Cities. The Modern Era puts on perhaps one of my favorite live sets – it’s loud, it’s off the wall, it’s a hot mess in the best way. In the year that we lost the Triple Rock – we need bands like The Modern Era to keep doing their thing – playing loud music, kicking ass and having a good time while they do it.
Finally – closing down the night was Twin Cities-based The Missing Letters – another band we’ve had the chance to cover a few times this year. 2017 has been a big year for The Missing Letters – playing shows across the Midwest and complete with a national tour. The Missing Letters played the classics we’ve loved from them including Lucille and Conscience of a Bandman as well as a few unreleased tracks and a Tom Petty cover, giving nod to many of the greats we lost this year. A standout moment from the set was, of course, their cover of The Raconteurs “Steady As She Goes,” which always seems to get the crowd singing and dancing along. The Missing Letters also talked 2018, more shows and a new record – all of which we will be anxiously awaiting!