Sun Airway at 7th Street Entry, 10/26/12

Sun Airway at 7th Street Entry, 10/26/12
Photo by Shawn Brackbill

Sun Airway
with Savoir Adore and Royal Canoe
7th Street Entry, Minneapolis
Friday, October 26, 2012

In concert, Sun Airway proved they weren't just an album band. Promising, since so many bands similar to them end up being just that. Still, it's a show that needs to get better in the coming months if their plan is to take "the next step," whatever that may be. Friday's headlining set was thoroughly enjoyable, but only 45 minutes long.

Opening with "Infinity" from their 2010 release, Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier, the four-piece touring outfit -- it's usually just singer/keyboardist Jon Barthmus on record -- was backlit with two ultra-bright lights that changed color and shot through the crowd for the entire set. They continued with another glittery, lush, dream-pop confection on "Oh, Naoko" that got many in the sparse crowd of about 40 down in front of the stage to start dancing, which continued throughout the night. As "Black Noise" started, nearly everyone in attendance was in front of the stage, and though the crowd was small, Sun Airway had everyone's full attention.

The music is hard to pigeonhole. With bits of classical arrangements, lap steel guitars, among many other things, the end result lands them (improbably) somewhere in between meditative indie acts like Beach House and Sea Wolf. "Close," from Sun Airway's just-released Soft Fall, in particular highlighted that, but by this time a couple of things were starting to get a bit old.

The band's bright lighting from behind initially worked, but it eventually became, for lack of a better term, too atmospheric. It seemed awfully pretentious and made it tough to fully connect with the band. There was also little interaction from the stage other than a curt "hello" at the beginning and a couple of "thank you"s. As good as the set shaped up to be, those two things served to take much of the human element out of the show and it was a slight letdown.

The evening closed with "Put the Days Away" from Nocturne, which got everyone in the small crowd dancing again and then with a quiet "thanks a lot" the band exited the stage. There was no encore. Hardly a complaint really, as encores seem tacked on more often than not but had the band come out front afterward to shake hands it's hard to tell if anyone would have even recognized who they were.

Critic's Bias: Sun Airway has only been on my radar for a few months but in that time they've become one of the bands I listen to most often lately. Though the show had its problems, ultimately it made me like them just a little bit more.

The Crowd: Sparse is putting it mildly. With the P.O.S. CD-release show happening next door in the Mainroom and a couple of other hotly anticipated shows around the city, Sun Airway ended up with the short end of the stick. Hopefully, things will be different for their next pass through town.

Overheard in the Crowd: "Are we actually going to get to see these guys?"

Notebook Dump: This lighting thing could use a change-up here and there. It looks cool but is a one-trick pony that won't translate to larger venues at all.

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