Palma Violets at 7th St. Entry, 4/30/13
Palma Violets With Guards 7th Street Entry, Minneapolis April 30, 2013
Palma Violets brought the raucous sounds of South London to the 7th Street Entry on Tuesday night, as the young quartet delivered a tempestuous 45-minute set filled with energetic garage-punk songs that brazenly mined sonic elements of the U.K. music scene both past and present. The hotly-tipped group, recently named by NME as their Best New Band of 2012, roiled the packed Entry crowd with a performance that deftly mixed a snide punk attitude with aggressive rock 'n' roll ambition, making a raucous and rowdy first impression during their first time through Minneapolis.
Openers Guards, a Brooklyn quintet fronted by Richie Follin (brother of Madeline from Cults), delivered a mixed-bag set of psych-fueled garage rock that certainly got the attention of the packed club, even if they didn't fully win the room over. The hazy set drew mainly from the group's debut LP, In Guards We Trust, but while the studio versions of those songs have a breezy pop polish to them, they have a bristling, feedback-laden pulse that certainly enlivens the tracks in a live setting.
"Silver Linings," "Coming True," and a boisterous take on "Nightmare" were a few of the highlights of the set, but the band appeared frustrated by the lack of connection they were making with the crowd, and seemed to retreat within themselves for prolonged experimental sonic freakouts, with Follin repeatedly holding his guitar above his head as if caught between losing himself completely in the song and just chucking it and calling it a night.
Follin also appeared to be a bit confused as to where he was, thanking the Palma Violets for "bringing them on tour in this part of the country for the first time," even though the group just opened for the Joy Formidable at First Avenue a few weeks back. But no matter, songs like "Home Free" and the anthemic Arcade Fire-like "I Know It's You," were fun, even if some others didn't end up going anywhere, and Guards set the stage well for the headliners even if they ended up frustrated that they didn't make the crowd dance.
Palma Violets employed a bit of a hypeman/merch guy in Harry Violent, who took to the stage to introduce the band and get the crowd properly psyched for the show. "Let's shake-off that aloofness sickness that is crippling the human race. Here's South London's finest, the Palma Violets." And, as Violent jumped in the crowd to start up the pit, the band quickly tore into a nearly incomprehensible version of "Johnny Bagga' Donuts" that was even more breakneck than the original. Explicit Clash influences were layered throughout not only the opening number, but much of the breathless set itself, complete with an unabashed nick of the riff from "I Fought The Law" in the boisterous second number, "Rattlesnake Highway."
Guitarist Samuel Frye and the ever-hyper bassist Alex Jesson split vocal duties throughout the show, with one frequently filling in for the other while they were bounding about the stage. This untamed balance called to mind the volatile musical partnership of Pete Doherty and Carl Barât, and this fitful, unruly set was actually quite reminiscent of the Libertines first Minneapolis performance in this very same club ten years prior (though Doherty missed that gig, having been recently arrested for burglary, natch).
Palma Violets sound and stage presence certainly was a testament to being reared on the rambunctious, irrepressible songs of the Libertines, and their dynamic set churned with the headstrong confidence that youth brings. After keyboardist Jeffrey Mayhew led the way on a moody version of "All the Garden Birds," all hell broke loose on a tempestuous take on "Tom the Drum," a churning punk number that got the crowd thrashing about to the raw urgency of the track. From there the set was a blur of flailing bodies and relentless rock vehemence, with hit single "Best of Friends" (also voted by NME as 2012's Track of the Year) really setting the place off with its infectious, irresistible hook and unifying chorus.
"Step Up for the Cool Cats" featured a cameo from Douglass, their tour manager, who danced about on stage while playing the maracas, while Jesson instructed the crowd to raise their hands in the air at the start of "Last of the Summer Wine," insisting that it will all make sense in the end even if it never really did, as drummer William Doyle hung from the rafters above his kit as the song eased to an end. The vibrant "We Found Love" found the band burning through the rest of their riotous debut, 180 (only "Three Stars" went unplayed), before they introduced the last song of the main set with a lengthy tease of Tommy James and the Shondells' "Crimson and Clover" that eventually morphed into an unrestrained take on "14" which featured a stage dive and ceiling climb by Violent as the song exploded with energy.
"Thank you for inviting us back, I fucking love it here," exclaimed Jesson as the band returned for a turbulent encore, which kicked off with a blistering cover of "Invasion of the Tribbles" by the Calgary punk band, the Hot Nasties. The pit was awash with bodies and aggression, as the song built up to an fiery, uproarious finish. The set ended with the Art Brut-like dynamic directness of "Brand New Song," with Frye making the song itself the subject of his lyrics, all while the stage was invaded by most of the front row of the club. It was a wild way to end a thoroughly enjoyable show, and hopefully these boys don't burn out too quick like some of their UK punk predecessors, and return to Minneapolis to get us all dancing once again.
Personal Bias: While I certainly enjoy Palma Violets on record, they become something far more raw and rewarding in a live setting.
The Crowd: Ready to blow off some steam at a full-blown rock show. Overheard in the Crowd: "I don't want anything to fucking do with that pit."
Random Notebook Dump: I was perhaps more impressed with Guards t-shirts on offer than I was with their set. Very stylish merch, gang.
Johnny Bagga' Donuts
All The Garden Birds
Tom The Drum
Best Of Friends
Step Up For The Cool Cats
Last Of The Summer Wine
We Found Love
Invasion Of The Tribbles (The Hot Nasties)(Encore)
Brand New Song (Encore)
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