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He Is We at the Triple Rock, 6/27/11

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He Is We, not to be confused with She and Him, took the stage (which was decorated with lamps to bring a more intimate/Ikea feel) at the Triple Rock Monday night.  Rachel Taylor and Trevor Kelly, armed with their brand new album, My Forever, brought their full band this time to Minneapolis.

While in line waiting for the doors, I heard the bouncer answer a passerby's question of who was playing tonight with, "He is We, they're a Christian rock band."  It's true that the band's music can be classified as such, but I find some bands try to move away from that label, more so to be able to expand their audience.  Case in point: Paramore, who have added love songs to their albums, keeping with songs that contain religious undertones.

The band's choice of entrance music: Cutting Crew's "I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight."  Tongue in cheek?  Perhaps, but it was the perfect opening to the hour set full of love songs...most of it about unrequited love.  Hence the young audience, consisting mostly of teenage girls who can identify and connect with these musings. 

Commencing their first headlining tour with the bordering-angry "Fall,"  Rachel Taylor showed her evolution from the band's first album, Old Demos, which was recorded in a basement, to My Forever.  This was truly evident with "And Run," with Taylor claiming that this song "changed her perception in music.  While writing our second album, I learned that it's most important to stay true and do whatever it is you want."

The bridge for "I Wouldn't Mind" compose of the lyrics, "Maybe I'm alone in this, but I find peace in solitude knowing, if I had but just one kiss, this whole room would be glowing," granting Rachel a reach to her audience, most of them by this point singing along with sincerity. 

It wasn't until "Mess It Grows," that I felt the band got into their groove, soon after stripping down to an acoustic set.  The last time I saw He Is We perform, it was pure acoustic; I didn't remember much, but I do remember thinking that the band was going to make it big.  Rachel and Trevor know how to write hooks that really pull you in, and the acoustic set was the highlight of the show, allowing Rachel's voice to shine. 

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"Breathe," I felt, was the only song in the collection that had Christian connotations containing the cited lyrics "You know, I fake it oh so well, that God himself can't tell, what I mean and why my words are less than parallel with my feet."

Rachel introduced "Radio" by asserting that the song was written with a pen and advising to "always write with a pen...never second guess what you're thinking."  Notwithstanding my enjoyment of the acoustic versions, "Radio" drew me in with its dreamy beginning, leading to a full band closing.

Most artists that do not wield an instrument seem clumsy or out of place, but Rachel easily pulls it off with her stage presence, captivating your attention with her awkward charm. 

"Happily Ever After," the band's latest single telling of "a boy and girl trying to take on the world" rounded out the set.  Every time I hear this song, my mind directly fast forwards to what my life would be like in five years.

Fans were treated to an encore featuring "Everything You Do," which I could see being showcased in a commercial for laundry detergent on Oprah's channel OWN, with its sunny sound.  He Is We's fan-base has grown ten-fold since their last round through the Twin Cities, so whether commercially or just in the music industry, this band's talent will carry them far.

Critic's bias:  I'm a sucker for a well-written love song, although they didn't play my favorite song "Pardon Me," which I feel is their strongest piece.

The crowd: Young teen girls with their parents and a smattering of guys.

Overheard in the crowd: "My mom asked me, 'You're bringing your camera to a show?  Isn't it going to get stolen?...It's a He Is We show.'"

Random notebook dump: I hate hand-claps (which this show was ripe with), more so because I am always off rhythm, so I just don't participate...making me seem like a jerk.  Also some kid was dressed as Batman.

Set List:

Fall

And Run

Prove You Wrong

Blame It On the Rain

Mess It Grows

I Wouldn't Mind

Breathe

Radio

Forever and Ever

All About Us

Happily Ever After

Encore:

Everything You Do