Free Energy at the Turf Club, 1/26/13
Photo by Anna Gulbrandsen
Turf Club, St. Paul
Saturday, January 26, 2013
Saturday night's sold-out Free Energy show at Turf Club indicates that there are still plenty of feverish locals who can only be cured by more cowbell. It seems like a calculated decision by the band to start every show they play with cowbell knocks. And it's a little disarming that something as simple as the one-two-punch of the bell and floor-tom from the opening "Backscratcher" could herd everyone one step forward. All the more impressive considering that the crowd itself stood closer to the side of casual concertgoer-a common demographic for fashionable homecoming shows.
In spite of their Philadelphia base of operations, it felt like the Minnesota natives were playing a show in the Twin Cities on a monthly basis during the 2010-11 promotion of their DFA Records debut, Stuck On Nothing. But as relentless as their presence remained here, their name never really sat at the top of the marquees. They played an opening date for Mates of State in June of 2010. They rounded out a lineup during that summer's Grand Old Day. They had a tour stop here in support of Titus Andronicus. Then they kicked off 2011 by headlining the Current's birthday at First Avenue, but the bulk of that crowd came and left at the direction of Brother Ali. A quiet 2012 could have left few Free Energy enthusiasts hanging around for that sort of cheerful-albeit rudimentary-power pop.
Only two songs in, "Electric Fever" helped remind everyone that if you didn't know the words, frontman Paul Sprangers would be throwing out plenty of "Whoa, Oh!" choruses to jump on top of. Still, Stuck On Nothing standouts like "Dream City" and "Free Energy" echoed the loudest through the length of the Turf Club.
Photos by Anna Gulbrandsen
Critic's Bias: I've seen plenty of those aforementioned Free Energy performances, and the group has yet to disappoint on stage. Whether or not they can propel themselves to new terrains on record still remains to be seen.
Random Notebook Dump: Openers Strange Relations and Baby Boys were a palatable primer for the main course. Baby Boys' cocktail drum kit punk helped coarsen up an initially timid crowd.
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