A post-mortem for Murder Shoes, the local band that chased death with apathy

So long, Murder Shoes (Photo: Aaron Fenster)

So long, Murder Shoes (Photo: Aaron Fenster)

Things die. It happens. To steal a phrase from Vonnegut, so it goes.

And so went Murder Shoes, the drab surf-rock quintet that captured the hearts of existential dweebs in the Twin Cities across their two-year existence. Murder Shoes announced their disbanding on Facebook last Friday, and they'll play their final gig in support of Band of Skulls at the Fine Line on Sunday. No concrete reason was given for the sudden farewell, though lead singer Tess Weinberg did state in an interview with We Love Music that things felt like “they had run their course.”

Murder Shoes are far from the first buzzy Minneapolis band to call it quits in their prime, but their demise seems apropos considering the deep threads of goth, sarcasm, and apathy that saturated their music. They lived as a band pursued by the spectre of death. They died as a band that knew death was inexorable. And they shrugged the whole time.

This much was clear from the art that accompanied their shows and albums. With the smudgy, dark inkings of guitarist Derek Van Gieson leading the way, their aesthetic was broadcast before a single note was heard. This was a band with morbidity stained all over their fingertips.

Despite the dark overtones, Murder Shoes were not a band built to mourn. Dwelling was never part of their fey, disaffected attitude. They blew cigarette smoke at folks who worried about the imminent demise of the future, all the while swallowing the Big Existential Equations in big gulps when no one was watching. A band that embodied the post-millennium twentysomething malaise all the while indulging in the egoism of growing up.

Daydreaming, the band’s 2015 release and ultimately the etching on their headstone, bloomed across moods. Anxiety, depression, ennui, and the empowerment of all those wayward emotions packaged into a groove-heavy 11-song package. 

"I think this is a rad album," Weinberg told City Pages of Daydreaming last November. "It's funny, it's emotional, and it's very representational of our last year, all our ups and downs and existential crises."

There are un-released songs that will survive the band, Weinberg states, but only Murder Shoes will know if those tunes ever approached anything resembling closure.

All the music scene here has are wry and mirthful statements like “Girls Named Benji” and “Your Friend Kimmie” that wave off the world at large with the same dismissive gesture that signaled the band’s abrupt end. On “Reefer and Pizza,” they stood against the dying of the light with 16 measures of meows because they knew the absurdity of battling the inevitable.

Ultimately, being named one of First Ave’s Best New Bands, playing Go 96.3’s Go Fest, and opening for every Twin Cities band worth a goddamn in the last year weren’t enough to sustain Murder Shoes. They were the most-voted band that did not place in our own '15 Picked to Click poll.

Empty trophies in a decathlon that was only beginning. But their breakup was not a forfeit. It wasn’t the haunt of the Reaper that took them under -- just the creeping guarantee of the way things end. An acceptance of the grim outcome that dwells just outside where we’re willing to look.

After Sunday’s show, Weinberg confirmed that the members of Murder Shoes would not go gently. Her and guitarist Chris White will continue on as Dan Wesley. Van Gieson and Tim Heinlein have other projects as well, all of which will be promoted via Murder Shoes’s not-yet-defunct Facebook. In that very Minneapolitan way things die, Murder Shoes have managed to live on in shards -- one last defiance against an opponent they could not totally overcome.

And so it goes.