The 4onthefloor at Turf Club, 4/4/13
Photo by Steve Cohen
with Eric Koskinen
Turf Club, St. Paul
Thursday, April 4, 2013
You know what you're getting when you go to a 4onthefloor show. It's never anything less than the most fun you'll have that week, regardless of what else may happen. The only question is exactly how much fun it will be. At the Turf Club on Thursday, the Minneapolis stompin' blues-rock act set the bar high for themselves in the way of being able to top what they're capable of doing in a two-hour timespan, and for the amount of fun to be had at a 4onthefloor show, though Saturday may prove to give it a run for its money.
The night was split into two very different, yet similar halves. The first half consisted of the band's brand new Spirit of Minneapolis
offered up front-to-back. "King of the Jungle," the lead single, got
the night off to a rousing start. Lead singer Gabriel Douglas' voice
sounding as whiskey-soaked and volatile as ever. As they moved through
"Enough," and "Stand Off" it became clear that while the new album is
very distinctly 4onthefloor, the songs burned more slowly. They took a bit
more time to get where they're going and hit up a few interesting
scenic routes along the way, as well.
Photos by Steve Cohen
"Some Days" finally got the crowd into full stomp mode and from there it never really let up, the stomp growing ever larger with each passing song. "Engine No 4" and "Fear, Hope, Green or Me" were two examples of this, the latter of which is an obvious contender for a second single. They wrapped up the first part of the night with the album's closer, "Off the Cuff" which was more reminiscent of 4x4, their previous effort, than anything else from the new album and while it was a good song, it highlighted how quickly the band is progressing: it sounded dated in an odd way and 4x4 is a not yet two years old.
"We're going to take a couple of minutes to do some vocal warm-ups [a euphemism for "drink a beer"] and we'll be right back." Douglas offered as the band took a quick, not quite ten-minute break.
When they returned, it was for a set of covers. Beginning with a semi-goofy cover of the Coasters' "Yakety Yak" (complete with a kazoo solo from Douglas), they moved into a heartfelt, spot-on rendition of Kenny Rogers' "The Gambler," with guitarist James Gould handling vocal duties. A Muddy Waters song and Three Dog Night's "Mama Told Me Not to Come" followed in short order, the latter of which found the crowd absolutely screaming the chorus.
Photos by Steve Cohen
Then a game started -- wherein the crowd could shout requests of songs the band had covered at previous shows, but if someone in the crowd bought the band shots, that person's request was played instead. Two rounds of shots arrived onstage during the last 40 minutes of set, but in a show of goodwill, the 4otf played every song that was requested -- save for the Dead Milkmen's "Punk Rock Girl," which the band may or may not know how to play. Gregg Allman's "Baby, Please Don't Go" reared it's head after several requests from a group of the band's friends who were loudly singing the chorus, seemingly to the band's dismay -- they reportedly dislike playing it. And another round of shots bought a showgoer the band's own "I'm Drunk on Tuesdays."
The show finally started to wind down with handful more cover songs, the now well-oiled crowd hooting and cheering between and then during songs, more hollering along with the lyrics than actually singing, but it all amounted to a nearly infinite amount of fun. M. Ward's "Magic Trick" and Neil Diamond's "Forever in Blue Jeans" -- which Douglas said was a request from his mother, who was in attendance -- were among the highlights toward the end. The 4onthefloor seem to have taken that ever-elusive step forward without losing sight of what is directly behind them or what's coming next. And what seems to be coming next is something that this whole city will undoubtedly be proud of for years to come.
Critic's Bias: I fell in love with 4otf early on and have since, at every single show, been completely in awe of Gabriel Douglas's ability to hold an entire room in the palm of his hand, whether it be 20, 200 or 2,000 people.
The Crowd: All clearly huge fans of the band and -- judging by the age of some -- also filled with family of the band, which is unendingly charming.
Overheard In The Crowd: "'Change!' Play 'Change!'" Drummer Mark Larson: "Shut the fuck up, Lincoln!"
Notebook Dump: I never thought anyone would look cool playing a kazoo, but I guess I was wrong.
Photo by Steve Cohen
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