Megafaun at the Cedar, 09/30/11
September 30, 2011
The Cedar Cultural Center
There certainly was a lot of love in the Cedar on Friday night, as Megafaun delivered a stirring 80-minute set to a supportive, enthusiastic crowd made up of plenty of family and friends of the North Carolina (by way of Wisconsin) band. Playing as a four-piece on this evening (with Nick Sanborn joining the group on bass), the boys all seemed comfortable and composed straight from the start, which imbued their already heartfelt numbers with even more natural emotion and raw passion.
The show began the same way that their excellent new self-titled record does, with the strong opening triumvirate of "Real Slow," "These Words," and "Get Right." "Real Slow" eased everyone into the performance, before the wildly inventive percussion of "These Words" kicked in, which found every member of the band beating out the relentless rhythm at one point or another. The exploratory "Get Right" started out a bit tentatively, before the group locked in on the groove and the song absolutely soared in the small room.
Phil Cook then thanked the crowd effusively for the warm reception and large turnout, stating, "It's so great to see all of you. By some way, shape, or form, we feel like we know half of the people in the room tonight." He then went on to recognize the continuous support that the band has received from the Current and the Cedar, then telling us that "we're going to go from sexy to church with this next one" before the band launched into a moving rendition of "His Robe," which featured a lovely piano part from Phil.
Drummer Joe Westerlund came out from behind the kit to sing and play guitar on an acoustic, unamplified version of "Second Friend," with the rest of the band providing backup vocals like a bearded barbershop quartet. Westerlund also encouraged the crowd to bring it in close, so we all pressed further up near the stage, elevating the intimacy of the rest of the performance. Brad Cook then had a surprise announcement for the crowd: "Let's get my dad up here on accordion and keep the party vibe going. We all have the most supportive parents in the world, and the best way we can thank them is to get them up on stage with us and let them rock out." And, with Bob Cook leading the way on accordion on a gorgeous version of "The Longest Day," the special significance of this performance was sealed.
The rest of the set only built on that momentum, as a moody version of "Everything" featured a mournful piano intro from Phil, while Brad guided the restless, Neil Young-like "State/Meant" forward. The slow simmer of "Kaufman's Ballad" featured a understated banjo riff from Phil, before the band fitfully guided the song home. The performance wasn't perfect though, with "Volunteer's" featuring a false-start after Phil "missed the tuning cue," and an otherwise rocking version of "Carolina Days" had to overcome some guitar issues that plagued the middle portion of the song. But both the band and the crowd took those slight technical snags in stride, making the performance even more endearing and organic.
Westerlund came back out front at the end of the main set, leading the band through an impromptu, rollicking cover of the Troggs' "Wild Thing," before he settled into a theatrical start to "Eagle," complete with Joe's emphatic jazz-hands as he settled back behind his kit as the song truly kicked in. The band really hit a CCR-like grove at the finish of the number, with Phil playfully sporting sunglasses while he played the keys, obviously enjoying and owning the moment. Brad thanked the crowd once again as they left for the encore break, saying "We love coming to Minneapolis, you guys always make it so worthwhile."
After a brief break, the band emerged along with opener Doug Paisley, stating that "We're going to do something we've never done before. We're going to do one of Doug's songs because he's so awesome." And with that, the band let Paisley take the lead on a stirring version of "What I Saw," with the Cook brothers playing the role of Feist (who sang on the studio version) on backing vocals. It was another truly memorable moment, but they weren't quite done yet. With Paisley still on stage with them, the band all came out to the front of the stage and led the crowd through a moving singalong on "Worried Mind," with everyone joining in on the rousing, uplifting chorus. It was an exceptional way to bring the show to a close, with both the crowd and the band brought closer together through the enduring power of music.
Critic's Bias: I had seen Megafaun a few years back, but these guys are hitting on all cylinders now.
The Crowd: A mix of fans, friends, and family all helped make this a very memorable performance.
Overheard In The Crowd: "Hey, the drummer was sitting right behind us at the Acadia."
Random Notebook Dump: I don't think I've ever sang along with a band louder than I did during "Worried Mind." My apologies to all who could hear me sing, but I just really needed that moment.
For more photos: See our full slideshow by Stacy Schwartz.
The Longest Day
Kill The Horns
What I Saw (Doug Paisley)(Encore)
Worried Mind (Encore)
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