Daytrotter's Barnstormer 4 kicks off in Wrenshall, MN
Daytrotter's Barnstormer 4
April 26th, 2011
Free Range Film Fest Barn, Wrenshall, MN
Bands loading in for the Daytrotter Barnstormer show at The Free Range Film barn in Wrenshall, MN.
The Free Range Film Fest barn in Wrenshall, MN.
Band gear waits to go upstairs to the barn's loft after being hauled across the lawn.
Show goers arriving at the barn.
Show goers looking over merch and conversing in the impromptu lobby before the show.
$1 Snacks, coffee and tea to keep the barnstormers warm.
A small theater tucked into a side room downstairs in the barn.
A view of the rainy day through an old window in the barn.
A pair of show goers take in the view from the front barn's hay loft.
Lights serve as aisle markers on the hay-strewn floor of the barn's loft.
The spacious loft made for an excellent-sounding, if a bit chilly, venue for the show.
Having seen descriptors like "doom wave pop," "psych pop" and "low fi doom pop" I wasn't sure what to expect from New York City's mysterious Guards, especially sandwiched in a lineup full of achingly earnest songwriters and bands, but their sound proved to be somewhere in the intersection. They may have started as a solo project - Richie James Follin released the debut in July of last year - but the touring lineup appeared to be tight and well rehearsed. Several stuffed crows made an appearance on stage, along with a healthy amount of fog, but the the anthemic strains of "I See It Coming" and soaring guitars of made it clear that the music was at the center of their show. They held it together while they powered through some sound problems and proved to be an unexpected standout from the show.
While I had missed my opportunity to see The Romany Rye in an opening slot on Delta Spirit's 2010 tour, quiet buzz about these guys among several of my Dawes and Mumford and Sons loving fans got me interested. Their blues-infused Americana, complete with harmonizing vocals and gentle melodies, would've gone together very well with Delta Spirit's own sound. Sandwiched between the fog machines and soaring guitars of Guards and the upbeat pop rock rhythms of Hellogoodbye, their sedate and, CCR-influenced riffs actually worked quite well.
The high energy indie power-pop of Hellogoodbye was exactly what the show needed at the 10 PM mark. While temperatures dipped below 35 in the barn, Frontman Forrest Kline warmed up the room with their bouncy, Smiths-influenced tunes. Kline also provided humorous banter between songs - "Anyone from Wrenfield in here? Any of the 399 people in here? Nobody?" - and started off wearing a jacket (apparently his first time performing in a wool coat) that became far too warm after several songs. Thankfully some of that heat radiated to the crowd and their infectious positivity made for a great late-show pick-me-up.
The first time I had seen Bergen, Norway's Sondre Lerche, it was outdoors on an unseasonably cold 30-degree day in Austin, Texas during the last day SXSW 2010 and as he set up I recalled fond memories of that show. Both unreasonably cold shows prompted warnings from the Scandanavian singer about potential vocal troubles and frozen fingers, but neither appeared to suffer at all. Being Lerche's first show with his backing band (with "Dave" on drums and "Dave" on bass), the three of them appeared to be extremely happy to be sharing the barn's stage and playing for such a small, rapt audience of fans.
The "Daves" proved to be excellent backup as well, filling out his sometimes-too-sweet melodies with just the right amount of rhythmic kick to pull them back to earth and let them really shine. "Two Way Monologue" was particularly fun, with quirky, funky and sometimes abrupt time changes keeping the well-worn pop song refreshing and interesting.
During Lerche's set, 4onthefloor and Fontanelles front man Gabe Douglas pointed out the fact that the guys from Hellogoodbye were standing on chairs around us, singing along to every word. They weren't the only ones. Enjoying truly intimate performances from such talented musicians in a small, unassuming space really was a rare treat. I know I'll be looking forward to the next Barnstormer. And so is everyone else that was there last night.
Critic's Bias: I spend a lot of time listening to abrasive, loud, noisy, music. For instance, Autechre's "Tri Repetae++" was the soundtrack to my drive up from Minneapolis. The fact that even the Americana-flavored pop and incredible songwriting was able to melt my wiry, electronic heart says a lot.
The Crowd: The four or five dozen music enthusiasts, local Duluth and Minneapolis musicians, Daytrotter staff and Barnstormer bands blended together and mingled seamlessly. Warm fuzzy feelings all around, despite (or because of?) the lack of booze in the barn.
Overheard In The Crowd: "A sober affair, this was."
Random Notebook Dump: Dave? And Dave? Who ARE these Norsemen? This bassist is solid. This drummer's insane.
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