Real Estate at Fine Line, 3/26/14
Photo by Pat O'Brien
With Pure X
Fine Line Music Cafe, Minneapolis
March 26, 2014
If any band can usher in the first throes of spring, it's Real Estate. The Brooklyn-based indie-rock quintet sold out the Fine Line on Wednesday night and charmed the packed club with a vibrant 85-minute set. The band seemed genuinely amazed at the turnout, and they wasted little time connecting through an engaging 17-song performance.
The band took to the stage in front of an arty backdrop filled with a series of uniform squares featured on their latest album, Atlas. But before they launched into any new material, Real Estate eased into the night with a couple from their last record, Days, as the sedate, heavenly sounds of "Green Aisles" started things off elegantly. The guys were clearly feeling the love of the crowd straight from the start, as singer/guitarist Martin Courtney took a moment after the cheers died down to immediately remark, "This is really cool. We're having a good time already."
The exploratory, War On Drugs-like instrumental, "Kinder Bluman," kept the strong start going, before the band shifted the focus to their enthralling new material. A sprightly take on "Had to Hear" was followed by an evocative run through of "Past Lives" just like it is on the album, with the band clearly settled in and comfortable, as their sweeping arrangements took on an expansive depth in a live setting. The sound was pristine throughout the set, as the relaxed, redolent sounds of the group gracefully filled the room.
Real Estate does have a tendency to sound a bit one-note at times, especially during a live performance. But the musical proficiency of the individual band members consistently takes the material in enchanting new directions, and even if the songs have a tendency to start with similar tones or tenors, they still end up in a fresh, distinctive space. Bassist Alex Bleeker dedicated a buoyant version of the band's debut single, "Fake Blues," to everyone who was there the last time they played the Fine Line four years ago. That was followed by a gorgeous version of "Crime" that arrived like a warm ray of sunshine, with the band clearly locked in by this point.
The well-paced set breezed by pleasurably, with hints of Built to Spill's nimble, layered guitar work threaded throughout the lovely instrumental "April's Song" and the plaintive vocals of "Municipality." Guitarist Matt Mondanile announced that the band was going to attempt to play a song for the first time on tour, one that no one has ever heard before. The unreleased track (tentatively titled "2 Part" simply because there are two parts to the song) was a wonderful surprise. Someone asked if the poignant number had a name yet, which caused a guy to jokingly call out, "You should call it 'Boner Jams,'" which had the band laughing, and perhaps contemplating a title change for the track.
After "Younger Than Yesterday," they switched up the setlist just a bit to properly fit the mood of the show. An ebullient version of current hit single "Talking Backwards" was followed by "Beach Comber," before the main set came to a lively close with "Primitive," which featured sprawling, intricate guitar interplay between Courtney and Mondanile that ended the show on a high.
Following a brief break, the band returned for an encore and offered up a musical thank-you to the crowd, as they lovingly covered George Harrison's "Behind That Locked Door." "It's Real" turned into a radiant sing-along, with the crowd and the quintet forming one last connection before it was time to head out into the chilly night, with musical visions of springtime on our minds.
Personal Bias: The more I listen to Real Estate, the more I love the band. It had been a few years since I've seen them perform (with Deerhunter in 2010), and this performance only reinforced my fondness for the lads.
The Crowd: A packed house full of dancing fans of the band, as well as unfamiliar first-timers there to check out what all of the buzz is all about.
Overheard in the Crowd: While the crowd was a bit talkative (as is the case with a majority of Fine Line shows) the only thing I'll truly remember hearing is the "Boner Jams" shout out. Classic.
Random Notebook Dump: For some reason, there was a slow-moving line a block long when I arrived, which frustratingly caused me to miss all but one song of openers Pure X's set, which is too bad, since I've been enjoying their new record as of late. Hopefully, they come back soon for a headlining set at the Entry.
Had to Hear
2 Part/Boner Jams (New Song)
Younger Than Yesterday
Behind That Locked Door (George Harrison)
Danny Brown's Triple Rock show sparks unseemly oral sex controversy
Brother Ali: My fans are kicking the sh*t out of me over Trayvon Martin
Top 20 best Minnesota musicians: The complete list
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.