Pretty Boy Thorson and the Falling Angels: We Are Trying To Break Your Heart
In 2008, the punk ethos has found its way into the damnedest places. In this little burg alone, we have punk veterans who moonlight as globe trotting hip-hoppers (pop in a Building Better Bombs CD on your way to a P.O.S. show, or a Strait A’s disc en route to see Atmosphere show, for proof). Friday’s show at the Hexagon proved just how far from home that Germs t-shirt can take you as The god Damn Doo Wop Band, along with their BBFFs (Best Band Friends Forever) Pretty Boy Thorson and The Falling Angels, evidenced some remarkable repurposing of the spirit that once moved a young man from London to carve “Gimme A Fix” into his living flesh.
By the time I arrived, openers The Gateway District were wrapping up a bouncy pop-punk set, with a rapidly filling floor to show for it. With Maren Macosko (known as “Sturgeon” in her past life as a Soviette) echoing Nico in her low register delivery, and her guitar having achieved a mildly detuned fine whine, the set was a low-altitude buzz bomb of the more esoteric and moodier terrain of post-punk (though their recorded material on MySpace doesn’t reflect it so much).
Pretty Boy Thorson and the Falling Angels, photo courtesy of their MySpace page.
Pretty Boy Thorson and the Falling Angels, a band whose activity is dictated largely by the unpredictable proximity of their lead singer Jesse Thorson to the Twin Cities, capped a four day sweep of Minneapolis venues, before embarking on a Fest-ward tour to Gainesville, Florida. The band is a shotgun wedding for outlaw country and power-chord punk, and tonight the Hexagon floor was its reception hall. They ran in an off-balance stagger from song to song, dripping beer and clear liquor, and ultimately inviting Kat Naden from The God Damn Doo Wop Band onstage to take part in a sing-along.
And the cross-pollination begins. The camaraderie that has kept these two bands in such close conspiracy over the years (and miles) is the same spirit that makes punk doo wop so oddly logical and appealing. The Doo Wop Band’s shows have always extracted charm from a great deal of sincerity and a slight sense of haplessness. As if, though the songs are wrenched from genuine heartbreak and tempered in respectable musical ability, their live execution is a bit of a crapshoot, and anything that happens along the way (for example, Falling Angels’ guitarist Dave Strait embracing Naden from the floor, interrupting the slow dance number with his affections deep into the Doo Wop set) is a pleasant and enthralling surprise to band and fan alike.
This good-natured approach is a strange evolution that even Lester Bangs would have had a hard time predicting. In pop-punk music, the demon has become the pixie, and the crowds turn out to play nice. By the time the Doo Wop Band finished their set, the crowd was happily swaying -- in part because of beer consumed, but mostly because that’s what you do at the Hexagon on a Friday night when The Falling Angels and The Doo Wop Band are playing. You press together. You dance like you did when you were 17 years old and didn’t give a damn, only this time you don’t leave room for the Holy Spirit like at your Freshman homecoming mixer.
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