Art-A-Whirl night one at 331 Club, 5/17/13

Art-A-Whirl night one at 331 Club, 5/17/13
Photo By Anna Gulbrandsen

Art-A-Whirl Night One
With the Blind Shake, Gospel Gossip, Carroll, Kill the Vultures, Jaill, Quiet Corral, and Tramps Like Us
331 Club, Minneapolis
May 17, 2013

The 331 Club emphatically kicked-off the musical portion of 2013's Art-A-Whirl on Friday night, with a diverse line-up that only grew better as the night wore on. Sadly, the fans who gathered for the outdoor portion of the event seemed to be a bit subdued by the unseasonable cool May evening and the chilly winds that blew through the tent-covered parking lot stage, as most concert-goers were indifferent to the acts who played during the early part of the night. But once the festivities moved indoors and packed the small, intimate club, the night caught fire as did the music on offer.

See Also:
Slideshow: Art-A-Whirl 2013: The music, 5/17/13 
Slideshow: Art-A-Whirl 2013: The music, 5/18/13
Gospel Gossip record release at 7th Street Entry, 3/21/13

After Tramps Like Us opened the day, Kansas City sextet Quiet Corral (the only non-local band on the bill) delivered a mixed bag set of pop rock that clearly resonated with some parts of the slowly growing crowd, but most of their set was a bit bland and lacked a spark, at least until their percussion-fueled closing number, which found most of the band beating out a driving, insistent rhythm that gave the track an edge which was mostly lacking throughout the rest of their set.

Milwaukee's Jaill fared much better, as the Sub Pop quartet delivered a taut, guitar-fueled 35-minute performance which sadly didn't connect with a good part of the crowd, who were obviously feeling the effects of the chill in the air yet hadn't had time enough to drink themselves warm. Vinnie Kircher proved to be an affable frontman, as well as a hell of a guitar player, injecting their classic sounding garage rock with an undeniably catchy spirit.

Art-A-Whirl night one at 331 Club, 5/17/13
Photo By Anna Gulbrandsen

Most of their well-paced set drew from their last two records (Traps and That's How We Burn), with a small handful of lively new songs thrown in, which bodes well for their forthcoming album. The bouncy pop churn of "Waste A Lot Of Things" was a mid-set highlight, as was the self-assured sneer of "Stone Froze Mascot," which followed a story by Kircher about how excited the band is to have a van with a TV with a working old-school Nintendo. After Kircher encouraged the crowd to have fun and eat some sausage, "And if you don't eat sausage, I don't know what to tell you -- you're missing out," the band closed with a fiery version of "Everyone's Hip," which brought their set to a dynamic end.

Night had fully descended upon the 331 Club's parking lot as Kill The Vultures took to the stage. The crowd had swelled by this point, packing the tent area and a good portion of the grounds. But sadly the cool night caused most of the crowd to be rather placid, as they failed to fully connect with the impassioned rhymes of Alexei 'Crescent Moon' Casselle, despite his repeated forays into the audience, looking to rouse them and wake them up a bit. "Beasts Of Burden," "Walk On Water," and "Rock Bottomless" all churned with a lyrical potency and the booming, ominous beats of Anatomy, but they failed to light the fuse of the rather docile crowd.

Art-A-Whirl night one at 331 Club, 5/17/13
Photo By Anna Gulbrandsen

But rather than dialing it down, KTV grew more experimental and assured as the set wore on, even bringing out some talented friends to help bring the ruckus. Chantz from Audio Perm joined No Bird Sing's Joe Horton and Kristoff Krane on a track, before the F to I to X crew dropped a volatile version of "FIX" in towards the end of the set. But taking a look around at the large crowd gathered outside at the 331, I quickly realized that most of the audience wouldn't fit in the small club, so I headed inside to make sure to get a spot for Carroll.

The upstart quartet were launching their East Coast tour with one last hometown show, and the club was rightfully packed to see them off. It took a bit before the band hit their stride, as they finally found a pulsing groove at the end of "Lead Balloon," carrying that momentum into a soaring version of "Alligator" and a textured take on "Sticks." Carroll's songs have a simple, understated charm to them, floating by rather innocuously before the group locks in dynamically and the tracks take flight. "Jealous Eyes" had a vibrant pop sheen, with frontman Brian Hurlow delivering the easygoing lyrics with a casual confidence.

Art-A-Whirl night one at 331 Club, 5/17/13
Photo By Anna Gulbrandsen

The 40-minute set featured four songs from Carroll's debut EP, Needs, while also giving their fans a taste on some newer tracks that might find their way onto a forthcoming full-length. "Day Light" was a simmering, keyboard driven number that found the band really taking the sprawling, expansive coda in a thrilling, hypnotic direction. After a rousing ovation, drummer Charlie Rudoy warmly and appreciatively thanked the crowd, noting, "This is the first night of our tour, but I don't think we want to leave Minneapolis after this." A buoyant version of "Out Here" then drew the set to a strong close, with the packed club giving the guys a well-earned ovation as they set off to hopefully win over a bunch of new fans with some high profile gigs on the East Coast.

After a lengthy changeover break, Gospel Gossip took to the stage unassumingly and promptly devastated the place with the best set of the night. From the moment the hazy strains of "Sippy Cup" kicked in, frontwoman Sarah Nienaber had the packed house transfixed, both with her hauntingly confessional lyrics and her blistering guitar work. The 45-minute set drew mainly from the trio's new self-titled LP, with the soaring squall of "Simpler Times," "Snow Came," and "On The Edge" all enthralling the club, as Nienaber flailed away on guitar over the pulsing undercurrent crafted by bassist Justin Plank and drummer Oliver Moltaji.


Art-A-Whirl night one at 331 Club, 5/17/13
Photo By Anna Gulbrandsen

It was a potent, feedback-laden performance, with the only words Nienaber said to the crowd was a quick word of apology after she knocked the microphone from its stand following a particularly ferocious jam, "Sorry, I got out of control for a second there. Whoops." But really, there was nothing to apologize for in this boisterous performance, with the band closing out the set with the tempestuous trio of "Atlantic Blue," "Sad Machines," and a slow-burning version of "Chores," which gradually built to a deafening wall of both sound and emotion, with Nienaber dropping her guitar defiantly after it was done, flashing a quick peace sign and leaving us all to catch our breath after that absolutely crushing set.

The night was growing long at this point, with the crowd growing rowdy and quite drunk, which is the perfect time for an explosive set from the Blind Shake if ever there was one. The breathless half hour set started with an untamed version of "I'm Not An Animal," and other than a few quick instrument changes, the performance didn't slow up once as the trio whipped the crowd into a frenzy. The set drew mainly from the group's last full-length, Seriousness, with what sounded like some new songs (hopefully--fingers crossed) thrown in for good measure, with brothers Mike and Jim Blaha feeding off of each other's energy as the set truly got wild.

Art-A-Whirl night one at 331 Club, 5/17/13
Photo By Anna Gulbrandsen

"Out Of Work," "Busy Body," and the relentless churn of "They're All Gone" got a pit going in the front of the stage that continued throughout the rest of the ferocious set, with the pounding rhythms of drummer Dave Roper driving the songs ever forward. After a raucous take on "Sold My Beatle A," the group eased into the doomy instrumental of "Seriousness," which found the band lost in the towering sounds they were generating. The turbulent set closed with a blistering version of "O'Rider," which left all of our ears ringing as we stumbled out of the club into the cold May night.

Critic's Notebook:

Personal Bias: I had seen each of these bands live before, save for Jaill and Quiet Corral, and they all brought their own distinctive creative flare to the evening.

The Crowd: The energy level certainly picked up as the night wore on, with the copious cheep beers on offer getting everyone to loosen up. But the audience was pretty tame and somewhat disinterested during the outdoor portion of the show.

Overheard in the Crowd: "I just used a port-a-potty for the first time in my fucking life!"

Random Notebook Dump: I don't think we'll ever see Kill The Vultures, Carroll, Gospel Gossip, and the Blind Shake on the same bill again--here's to the 331 Club for making that sweet, diverse lineup happen.

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