Tapes 'n Tapes at First Avenue, 2/25/2011

Tapes 'n Tapes
February 25, 2011
First Avenue, Minneapolis

The noise at First Avenue on Friday night was ramped up to surprising levels, and by the time hometown favorites Tapes 'n Tapes took the stage at 11:20 p.m., the crowd was more than ready.

The boys of Tapes--Josh Grier (guitar, lead vocals), Jeremy Hanson (drums), Matt Kretzman (keyboard), and Erik Appelwick (bass)--were in town for a hot minute in the center of their national tour, celebrating the release of their third album, Outside. They packed people into First Avenue and let their opening bands, Twin Cities' Alpha Consumer and the Brooklyn-based Oberhofer, prep them for the metal meltdown that they would bring.

And they did bring it. You pick it up a little bit on Outside, and any Tapes performance has its fair share of guitar-shredding screams, but with the bass line turned way up and the vocals turned way down, the show at First Ave was, in some ways, shockingly loud and a little dark. I love the sound of Grier's voice; it's a little rough around the edges, a hint of grunge, and it particularly works on tracks like "Freak Out" and "Conquest," where you can pick out the rootsier alt-country influences the band started out on, but on Friday night, those nice qualities were overpowered by furious guitar riffs that recalled more noise-rock than anything else. It was like every song was a different version of "On and On," ending in a wild and angry amalgamation of instruments.

Tapes 'n Tapes at First Avenue, 2/25/2011

Maybe it was the volume--where I was standing (stage left, rather close to the speakers), there was a very noticeable difference in the noise level from the shift from the opening bands to Tapes 'n Tapes--but the audience was unexpectedly violent. Not three songs into the Tapes' set and the crowd was moshing; I watched as some guy threw a punch only to get literally thrown a few yards backward.

Still, aside from that, the skill of the playing was undoubtedly first-rate. The members of Tapes 'n' Tapes have a coolness about them, a style that says yeah, sure, they may be playing to a nearly sold-out crowd, they may be one of the most celebrated indie blog-bands to come out of Minneapolis in recent years, but whatever. They haven't been paying attention to that, and they're going to play up on that stage as though it were just another band practice. There is something empowering about a band that can command the stage without trying too hard to do it, and all other details aside, the show they put on was solid, the excitement of the audience well-deserved.

Tapes 'n Tapes at First Avenue, 2/25/2011

Critic's Bias: Have been enjoying Outside since its January release, and didn't really expect to see moshing at a Tapes concert.
The Crowd: Very... suburban. Oddly not the crowd I would expect to see at a Tapes show.
Overheard in the Crowd: "This is such a weird crowd," said my friend as we observed the audience. Indeed.
Random Notebook Dump: I am always hopeful when it comes to openers, regardless of the hype (or non-hype) surrounding them. But Oberhofer was like a stock band from the Brooklyn indie music scene. They sounded like a combination of three different bands I couldn't be bothered to recall, vaguely familiar but not memorable. Maybe that's harsh, but blandness in music frustrates me.
For more photos: See our full slideshow by Nick Wosika.

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