Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside at the 7th St. Entry, 5/23/12

Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside
With the Swallows
7th St. Entry, Minneapolis
Wednesday, May 23, 2012

With nothing going on in the Mainroom, the vibe at the 7th Street Entry last night was mellow, and the crowd for Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside was modest. Nonetheless, the 50 or so people gathered were an enthusiastic audience -- some fans of Ford from the last time she was in town, opening for Jolie Holland at the Cedar. The Portland-based retro-rocker took the stage with her usual cat-eye frames and some bright-colored saddle shoes, which further emphasized her '50s-inspired sound.

There are a few artists right now that are riding the retro-revival wave, and while some of them are doing it very well and with their own personal take and style, the whole trend is just starting to get a little old. It won't be long before that fad bubble pops and we're left with some vaguely entertaining artists sneaking their way into our music catalogs based on a familiar sound. Is Sallie Ford one of those passing trend artists, or is does she bring something new and interesting and on point to the table?

Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside at the 7th St. Entry, 5/23/12
Photo by Natalie Gallagher

Sallie Ford draws much of her sound from 1950s rockabilly tunes, where her interesting voice can do somersaults with her fresh, contemporary lyrics. She's got a unique vocal style that you'll either love or hate immediately: her voice springs forward with a punchy energy, and the wrong pair of ears might be inclined to describe her rough loudness as "grating." But truthfully, there is no one with a voice like that, using it in that way. See what I mean here in her music video for "I Swear."

So, that said, Ford put on a swell show last night for the fans who turned out--and who were increasingly taken with her as the set grew to just over an hour in seemingly no time at all. Ford's songs are short and high energy, and when she's not singing, she's playing some pretty sharp guitar alongside bandmate Jeff Munger. Between them and Ford Tennis on drums and Tyler Thornfelt on upright bass, Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside could give the blues a run for its money--until Ford starts singing, that is, and then it turns into something entirely different.

Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside at the 7th St. Entry, 5/23/12
Photo by Natalie Gallagher

Ford's a little awkward on stage, and Munger did most of the talking, though the small room and the attentive audience leant a pleasant leisure to the night. She told one of the best jokes ever while Munger was tuning ("What did the egg say to the pot of boiling water?" she said into the microphone. "'It might take me a minute to get hard, I just got laid.'"). Even the multiple false starts on the band's cover of Wreckless Eric's "Whole Wide World" was endearing.

By the end of the set, the crowd -- which had been making casual demands of Ford and her band all evening, calling out all kinds of song requests and so forth -- wasn't quite ready to be done. Ford was convinced to return for a one-song encore, and as she seared through "Devil," it was obvious to all that Ford was a great deal more than a passing trend.

Critic's Bias: I was at the Jolie Holland show and really, really disliked Sallie Ford when she opened. She seemed like some weird retro act that didn't pull it off very well, and I couldn't stand her voice. I wanted to see her this time because I wanted to give her another chance.

The Crowd: Sparse. A few girls who looked like they wanted to be BFFs with Sallie Ford and trade vintage dresses or something.

Random Notebook Dump: I think there were actually more people there for opening band the Swallows, who were, I should mention, pretty fantastic. They were a rowdy group with a folk style that reminded me a lot of Trampled By Turtles.

Set List: I stole the set list off the stage, and the list of songs is as follows. Some of them are new, so you'll have to forgive if the titles aren't exact. Somewhere in here, Ford snuck in "Not An Animal."

Write Me A Letter
Rockab (?)
Bad Boy
Oh Boy! (Buddy Holly cover)
This Crew
Against The Law
I Swear
Whole Wide World (Wreckless Eric cover)
Addic/Party (?)

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