How To Dress Well at 7th Street Entry, 12/13/12
Photo By Nate Dykstra
How To Dress Well
With Beacon and Seyah & Katy Morley
7th Street Entry, Minneapolis
December 13, 2012
At the start of How To Dress Well's stirring show at the Entry on Thursday night, the band's mastermind, Tom Krell, mentioned how nervous he was because he had so many close friends in the audience. But that sense of anxiety gave his already heart-rending music an added poignancy and resonance, while the encouraging support of his fans and friends helped Krell feel right at home, as he and his two backing musicians (Cam and Aaron) delivered a stunning 50-minute set that swept everyone in the club away.
You know you're in for an emotionally raw show when the set starts with a song called "Suicide Dream 1." Krell focused entirely on his vocals throughout the set while letting his mates handle the beats, transitioning smoothly from one microphone to the next along with the opening track's subtle but striking strains of a violin. Each of the ten songs the band performed were accompanied by a film (put together by Krell's friend Nick, who drove 400 miles to get to the show) that was projected on a large white sheet behind the band, providing a rich visual element which gave the impassioned numbers an added depth and texture.
Krell seemed taken aback at the full room which greeted him, saying "There's a lot of people packed into this very small room." But that closeness created a strong sense of intimacy in the club, one which allowed Krell (and the audience) to get completely lost in the music. He also dedicated many songs throughout the set to specific friends in the crowd, which gave the numbers an added personal touch. "Running Back" featured a soulful bounce while Krell's vocals soared, while the slow-burning fervency of "Cold Nites" swelled to a gorgeous, stunning finish.
The band was so at ease at this point that they played a brand new number for us, which Krell humorously introduced, "We're going to do a new song now. It's really loud, but don't let that stress you out." The new track, called "No More Death," was rhythmic and pulsing, with a film of a haunting close-up image of a woman's face augmenting the wistful sentiment of the song. Krell seemed anguished as the new song drew to a stirring close, and it was clear he was boldly revealing a vulnerable part of his heart to all of us with each impassioned number he sang.
Towards the finish of a thrilling version of "Ready For The World," which featured a few verses from R Kelly's "I Wish" tagged onto the end, Krell asked the sound guy to "turn it way up, please," as the thunderous beats kicked in as the song took flight. Tom then introduced a rousing version of "& It Was You," by teasing, "This is a dance song, but I've got to sing the whole time so I can't dance. But we do have dance numbers, though." And indeed, the dynamic song took on an added vibrancy in a live setting, and featured a funky, Prince-like rhythm that did get some fans moving.
A lovely, tender version of "Ocean Floor Forever" featured a dramatic sunburst which colorfully lit up the screen as Krell ushered in the end of the song's heavy beat. The main set ended with a stunning rendition of "Set It Right," which began with a thunderous cacophony that caught everyone's attention, before the track eventually smoothed out into a soulful groove. The visuals on the screen perfectly transitioned from fiery, intense images to a serene, heavenly scene as Krell affectionately said goodbye to those loved ones he's lost. It was a heavy, perfect moment which left the crowd almost too stunned to cheer as the band left the stage.
After taking the shortest of encore breaks, Krell returned alone to a rousing ovation, and he took a moment to show his appreciation. "You guys have been amazing. Thank you all so much. This is one of the loudest shows we've had on tour, but that might be because this place is as big as a dorm room. I wrote this song for my brother. It's called 'Blue.'" And the night closed with Krell singing the unreleased song a cappella, as the powerful, deeply affecting number gloriously brought the moving set to a close, leaving the crowd a bit shaken by the genuine artistry of Krell and his delicate but devastating songs.
Personal Bias: Total Loss is one of my favorite records of 2012, and I had been looking forward to this show since the moment it was announced.
The Crowd: I was worried a bit by how noisy the audience was for openers Beacon, but everyone quieted down by the time HTDW came on.
Overheard In The Crowd: A joker shouted out, "Now teach us how to dress well" at the start of the set, but thankfully that was the end of any comedic banter in the audience.
Random Notebook Dump: Beacon proved to be the perfect opener for HTDW, as their chill, intoxicating beats were also augmented by images projected on the screen. The Brooklyn two-piece delivered a lovely set for the people who were listening, but sadly the mood of their music was ruined a bit by a few rowdy people who couldn't keep their mouths shut. This was the second-to-last night of their tour together, and both bands were in fine form and in a celebratory mood.
Suicide Dream 1
No More Death
Suicide Dream 2
Ready For The World
& It Was You
Ocean Floor Forever
Get It Right
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