Father You See Queen, the Cloak Ox, and Marijuana Deathsquads at the Entry, 01/20/12

Father You See Queen, the Cloak Ox, and Marijuana Deathsquads
7th St. Entry, Minneapolis

Friday, January 20, 2012

Check out a slideshow from the concert here.

Father You See Queen turned the 7th St. Entry into an art house cinema on Friday night, fluidly blending their moody, ethereal music with projections of grainy black & white film that only added to the captivating spectacle of sight and sound. Their 50-minute set was a pre-release celebration of their forthcoming debut EP 47, and in addition to the lovely hand-crafted music boxes they made available at the show, Father You See Queen also brought some talented friends out with them to help make the night even more memorable, as Marijuana Deathsquads and the Cloak Ox both delivered riveting opening sets.

Marijuana Deathsquads' wildly inventive performance was augmented by the return of ringleader Ryan Olsen, and was bolstered by the vocal/beat contributions from special guest Spyder Baybie Raw Dog. But as with any Deathsquads show, the relentless rhythm of dual drummers Ben Ivascu and J.T. Bates was what really propelled the show. Their 30-minute set was full of head-nodding beats, strident sonic samples, and a churning, dynamic energy which really started the night out explosively. Isaac Gale and the rest of the crew lost themselves while they transformed a small Snoop Dogg sample into a discordant, jubilant number which really was one of the clear highlights of their imaginative performance.

Father You See Queen, the Cloak Ox, and Marijuana Deathsquads at the Entry, 01/20/12
Photo by Erik Hess

The Cloak Ox were up next, and while the straightforward rock song that opened their set was a bit tame and bracing in comparison to the unconventional sounds that came before them, the hotly tipped quartet quickly found their own experimental edge during their compelling 45-minute performance. The band quickly bounced from one style to another during their energetic set, going from a hard-charging rock sound to something closer to a free-jazz breakdown and back again, led by the deft guitar work of Andrew Broder and Jeremy Ylvisaker. They drew mainly from their stellar EP Prisen during their spirited performance, as "Vacuum Cleaner," "Prison" and "Artist at the Door" all had a fitful energy to them. And the excellent new track "Shoot the Dog" also was a clear standout of their vigorous set, which set the stage well for the headliners.

Father You See Queen, the Cloak Ox, and Marijuana Deathsquads at the Entry, 01/20/12
Photo by Erik Hess

Father You See Queen are technically a two-piece, led by the textured beats and sonic tapestry created by Mark McGee (Votel, and formerly of To Kill a Petty Bourgeoisie) and Nicole Tollefson's mellifluous vocals. On this evening they were augmented by JT Bates on drums and Adam Marx on guitar, and their addition only helped bolster their layered, exploratory sound. As clips from Bill Morrison's Decasia was projected on the screen behind them (and on them, as well, as the band were all wearing white), Tollefson announced that, "We're about to play our EP for you as one entire seamless composition."

And while the band altered the running order ever so slightly, that is exactly what we got during the 50-minute performance: a captivating run through of 47 with McGee injecting textured, noisy flourishes to their sound, which was only bolstered by the elegant cinematic aspect of the film itself. While there were certainly lulls in the set, the tension of each track frequently built to a fever pitch as Tollefson's vocals soared over the cacophony of sound the band were generating.

Father You See Queen, the Cloak Ox, and Marijuana Deathsquads at the Entry, 01/20/12
Photo by Erik Hess

Father You See Queen's music is very saturnine and mercurial, and while the sound churns with a dark intensity, Tollefson's dulcet vocals often provide a vibrant edge to the songs, even when the lyrics are as doleful as the music itself. And while there frequently aren't any discernible melodies to grasp onto within the songs themselves, there is plenty of space within the tracks to get lost in, and that sense of freedom was only aided by the black and white images projected on the screen, which encouraged the audience to focus on those stark moving pictures instead of the band themselves.

It was a great night for experimental music in the Entry, as all the bands on display crafted disparate but equally beautiful noise. And while this was perhaps the first live glimpse many music fans in the Twin Cities had of Father You See Queen, with striking, stirring performances like this one, I have a feeling that the attention focused on the band will only start to grow.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: This was my first time seeing Father You See Queen, and their live sound was just as captivating as I'd hoped it would be.

The Crowd: Not a sell-out, but there were lots of familiar faces in the crowd.

Overheard In The Crowd: "I've got to move, I'm blocking the film."

Random Notebook Dump: I'm still kicking myself for not buying one of the gorgeous music boxes that Father You See Queen were selling that night. They were splendid, hand-crafted works of art, just like the band's music.

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