Kid Dakota press photo
Let's not beat around the bush, here: winter is starting to suck. We've come to that point in the season where the fluctuating temperatures and unexpected snowfalls begin to toy with our emotions, to bring into question our very sanity and emotional stability. One day, it's 45 degrees and people are flooding out into the street wearing sunglasses and hoodie sweatshirts; the next, we are buried under six inches of snow, with an arctic chill racing up our collective spine as we attempt to pass the hours by watching yet another season of that one show on Netflix.
All of which is to say that it is the perfect time of year to listen to Kid Dakota, with its morose progressions of minor chords and songwriter Darren Jackson's confessional, sardonic lyrics.
For Saturday's performance, Jackson was joined by drummer Peter Leggett (Heiruspecs) and upright bass player Brian Roessler (Fantatic Merlins). Jackson hinted that trio would be heading into the studio soon, and used his opening slot to debut a few new songs. Unsurprisingly, given the aforementioned winter darkness and Jackson's tendency toward serious introspection, almost all of the songs that he played were about the agony of Minnesota winter. After a new song called "Winter Without You," an unusually chatty Jackson joked about the gloomy nature of his songs: "That song starts off kind of funny and takes a dark turn at the end," Jackson said, smiling devilishly and strumming the introductory chords of the next song on the set list. "Whereas this song is just dark from the get-go."
Jackson stuck to the acoustic guitar for the majority of his set, and combined with the upright bass, it gave the songs a warmer, more lush texture than his typical electric guitar and drum arrangements.
Romantica picked up the pace with their more upbeat, rollicking Americana songs, and kept the momentum up for an astonishing 19-song set, including 8 new songs. Lead singer Ben Kyle announced that the band had just spent two separate weeks in the recording studio, and the crowd at the Cedar was treated to almost the entire forthcoming album. The new songs sounded great, and highlights included a ditty about the Turf Club ("Everybody's at the Turf Club over in St. Paul/A local band is playing country songs/Everybody wants to sing along"), an amazingly epic song about the current climate ("Do you leave a little hope inside/For happiness after the war?"), and a couple of more raucous, bluesy numbers that strayed from their typical bleeding-heart alt-country format.
See below for the full set list; the newer songs are labeled according to their choruses and are not necessarily the final song titles.
Romantica set list: