Teenage Moods at the Hexagon Bar, 1/17/13
Photo by Erik Hess
With Vanna Inget, Prissy Clerks & Ex-Nuns
Hexagon Bar, Minneapolis
Thursday, January 17, 2013
At no point during last night's stuffed Hexagon lineup would I have envied the "next band." All participants likely agreed that the excellent Ex Nuns got off easy by filling the first slot. Even fighting against the bar's back room of pool shooters and Lakers fans, fronter Ian Littleson's post-hardcore outfit brought enough of both Southern California bounciness and DC sneer to launch things from one snotty soapbox.
Transferring that energy toward the open-tuned wooziness of Prissy Clerks could have brick-walled a frothed crowd. It didn't, though. Namely on account of how much adoration this band seems to have for the instruments they play. Their tooled-up equipment blew past the boxy back end of The Hexagon. The stage's jutting triangle shape sends the PA sound off in two directions; one bouncing against an opposite closed-off corner and the other extending back through the east opening to the bar. For a band like Ex Nuns, that corner reverberation sets up a nice ringing volume. For a band like Prissy Clerks, it can be hard to push those thrashing rhythm-lead harmonics past a mushy mix. Clara Sayler played a newer hollow body for the chunk of their set, and that choice for curbed feedback made all the difference.
Photos by Erik Hess
Then there's Vanna Inget, a Swedish act who can only be stylistically pinned from verse to verse. This band is why you go to weeknight Hexagon shows. The venue may be common fodder for Minneapolis' roster of every catchable band. But their knack for tacking on imports warrants a trip to commonplace lineups like this one. Frontgirl Karolina Engdahl yelled through a range that could only be translated to the english language as a Linda Perry intonation. To many that may sound like a knock, so I cannot stress enough how much better of a vocalist Engdahl is than Perry. Especially against only a Zeppelin-sized backing band that sounded appropriately half Black Sabbath and half MC5. Four songs in, the crowd was worked to a two-step tizzy. Such a stepping mess that they demanded an encore.
It must have really sucked for Teenage Moods to follow a band that just encored at the Hexagon. Like Vanna Inget, Teenage Moods trades in pared down rock. Except they don't record that way. There's a dichotomy between the AM Radio sensibility of their tracked material and the Elvis Costello mic sucking that Gordon Bryde sings through all the while bouncing between lead and rhythm parts. There's a nimbleness to the group's charm even when it's sloppy.
And it kind of suited the bar-close crowd at that point--a crowd that had thrown five beers at the band before as many songs were even played. But a band tends to shrug these things off when so few pieces of equipment are on stage. "Can anyone buy us all a beer?"Jillian Schroeder asked the crowd in apparent jest but justifiable sincerity. By the next song, there were two more beers on stage than there were members. Because that's not just the kind of crowd that The Hexagon attracts. It's the kind of crowd it cultivates.
The Crowd: College kids. Crazy stupid fun college kids.
Random Notebook dump: "The guitarist is missing a finger. He's playing a Les Paul. She's wearing two Harley Davidson shirts. This swedish band is the most American band I've ever seen."
Overheard: "Did you break your glasses?"
"Naw, there's just beer all over em."
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