Telekinesis, The Love Language and Red Pens at the Entry, 3/2/11

Telekinesis/The Love Language/Red Pens
March 2, 2011
7th Street Entry

"There's something about Minneapolis," exclaimed Missy Thangs, the keyboardist for the Love Language, halfway through the group's rousing set at the 7th St. Entry on Wednesday night.

"There sure is," frontman Stuart McLamb answered emphatically.

On this cold night, there certainly was something about Minneapolis, which put a broad smile on the faces of the fans that made it out to the show, as well as the members of all three bands that graced the Entry's stage. It was an ebullient, energetic evening that showcased three distinct groups that were all hitting the right notes throughout their spirited, lively sets.

Local duo Red Pens kicked off the night in a boisterous, rousing fashion, tearing through their blistering set with an intensity and aplomb that has solidified them as one of the best live bands in the Twin Cities. In a typically focused but assuredly raucous 35-minute performance, frontman Howard Hamilton shredded away on guitar while Laura Bennett kept a pounding rhythm, guiding the songs to their ferocious destinations. It was a rowdy 10-song set, which featured one new song ("Cool Colors," which the band is set to record soon), a song that Laura wants to quit performing but Howard insists on playing ("Children And The Kids"), as well as one of the earliest songs in the bands catalog which they have just started playing live again ("Stay Small"). All in all, it was a sharp, stellar set by a band that has already captured the attention of most local music fans, and hopefully garnered them a few more admirers after this lively performance.

The Raleigh, North Carolina quintet the Love Language were up next, and proved to be a charming but wholly combustible live act, storming through their wonderful 45-minute set with a potency and prowess that easily won over everyone in the tiny club. Starting their set with the simmering beauty of "Blue Angel," the band just took off from there, delivering a staggering 11-song set that not only blew away everyone in the crowd, but also their tour mates in Telekinesis, who remarked later on that this was the best they've heard the Love Language sound on the tour so far. There wasn't much of a let up throughout the set, as one strong song rolled right into the next. The powerful "Lalita" was followed up by the stirring "Heart To Tell," with the band growing more at home on the tiny stage as the crowd warmed up to them as well.

Telekinesis, The Love Language and Red Pens at the Entry, 3/2/11
Telekinesis, The Love Language and Red Pens at the Entry, 3/2/11

The gorgeous "Manteo" started out as an a cappella group singalong, before building to its riotous finish. They went on to play what I can only assume is a brand new song, since McLamb quipped that it was "a cover of the future Love Language. Yeah, I don't know what that means either." But trust me, it was damn good, as were all the songs the band treated us to. They closed their set with an impassioned rendition of "Two Rabbits," and an untamed version of "Brittany's Back" which put an exclamation point on a performance that not only got everyone's attention but kept all of us talking about it long after the last note was played.

After such an inspired performance, it would be easy for the headliner to buckle under the pressure of trying to top it, but the Seattle three-piece Telekinesis did anything but crack, delivering a tight, playful set that kept the strong momentum going. Their songs are quick bursts of edgy pop, with big hooks and memorable choruses, led by the vocalist/drummer Michael Lerner, who propelled the songs forward with his impassioned lyrics and vigorous rhythms. They started their crisp 55-minute set with the first three songs from their fantastic new record, 12 Desperate Straight Lines, and really never looked back, barreling through their performance with a decidedly youthful exuberance.

The middle of the set found the band digging back into their self-titled debut, with animated versions of "Imaginary Friend," "All Of A Sudden," and "Foreign Room," which they dedicated to a fan who drove all the way from Fargo to see the show. It was a song they obviously don't play that often, aborting the slow start because Lerner couldn't remember the lyrics, and instead skipping to when the song really kicks in. It was such a boisterous rendition that Lerner's microphone dropped from its stand, so he had to play drums with one hand while the other held the mic, which caused guitarist Cody Votolato to joke, "We were like Def Leppard for a while there." To which someone from the crowd hilariously responded "Too soon." "Is 20 years too soon?" Lerner comically replied, and after that point the bond between the audience and the band was solidified (they even requested, and answered, random questions from the crowd at different points), and the set really got fun.

And, if the band that opens for you plays as rousing of a set as the Love Language did, you best bring them out to make your set even better, which is just what Telekinesis did, inviting a well lubricated McLamb out to help sing on a blissfully sloppy take on the Guided By Voices anthem "Game Of Pricks." It was a highlight of the set that the band only built on, rolling through great versions of the insanely catchy "Car Crash" and "Country Lane," before calling all of the Love Language out to help sing on a stellar version of "Coast Of Carolina" which closed the main set strongly. After a brief break, the trio came back out to thank the crowd profusely for their support, before they tore into a bouncy rendition of "Tokyo" which had been requested repeatedly by the crowd. It left everyone on the stage and in the crowd satisfied and smiling as we headed out into the cold Minneapolis night.

Telekinesis, The Love Language and Red Pens at the Entry, 3/2/11
Telekinesis, The Love Language and Red Pens at the Entry, 3/2/11

Critic's Bias: I had been looking forward to this show for quite a while--one of the better triple-bills we're bound to see in Minneapolis this year.

The Crowd: A good crowd for a cold Wednesday night, and one that was clearly out to have a good time.

Overheard In The Crowd: "I fucking love the fucking Love Language."

Random Notebook Dump: I fucking love the fucking Love Language.

For more photos: See our full slideshow by Anna Gulbrandsen.

Telekinesis set list:

You Turn Clear In The Sun

Please Ask For Help

50 Ways


Imaginary Friend

All Of A Sudden

Foreign Room

Palm Of Your Hand

Dirty Thing

Game Of Pricks w/ Stuart McLamb (Guided By Voices)

Car Crash

Country Lane

Coast Of Carolina w/the Love Language

Tokyo (Encore)

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