Unstoppable Bully wail through (last?) small-scale local gig

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They say the best way to get rid of a bully that keeps coming back is to ignore them. Apparently nobody in Minneapolis got the memo, as Nashville four-piece Bully sold out the 7th Street Entry for their fifth local show in 13 months on Monday night.

“You guys were the first show of this tour to sell out,” gushed frontwoman Alicia Bognanno, originally from Rosemount, a few songs into her band’s set. “We really love Minneapolis a lot right now.”

The headliners’ set was of the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it variety, clocking in at 38 minutes including the encore break. Brevity may be a necessity for a band with only one album and 12 songs to its name, but it worked in Bully’s favor Monday. Bognanno & Co.'s time on stage was everything that moniker suggests — aggressive, punchy, and unrelenting.

From the opening strains of “I Remember” — the first track on the band’s critically adored debut, this year’s Feels Like — through an encore cover of Butthole Surfers’ “Who Was in My Room Last Night,” the members of Bully slowed down only to tune their instruments.

The 25-year-old Bognanno, her face often obscured behind long, bleach-blonde hair, showed off her millennial mastering of the loud-quiet-loud dynamic, screaming about accidentally injuring her sister in first grade minutes after cooing softly about the merits of post-secondary education.

Meanwhile, guitarist Clayton Parker’s slacker guitar heroics gave the tunes all of the urgency they have on record as bassist Reece Lazarus and drummer Stewart Copeland (how can a timekeeper go wrong with a name like that?) made sure Bully’s frantic compositions came together seamlessly.

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Bully on Monday at the 7th Street Entry

The biggest audience reactions of the night went to the 89.3 the Current-supported single “Trying,” perhaps the greatest ‘90s song written this decade, and jaunty main-set closer “Milkman,” which inspired fist-pumps around the room and something of a mosh pit on the Entry floor, a real accomplishment on a Monday night that Mother Nature decided to mark as the beginning of winter.

Every cut from the 10-song Feels Like was aired Monday night, with the exception of “Reason.” Rounding out Bully’s set were the Butthole Surfers cover, a rendition of dB’s rocker “Black and White,” and the bonus track “Sharktooth.” Exhausting the band’s catalogue and telling a story about getting stuck in the Minnesota snow helped Bognanno inch it toward the 40-minute mark.

“Two times ago when we were in Minneapolis, our van got stuck in a quarter-inch of snow,” she recalled. “It was so pathetic.”

As the singer joked, Bully will need to purchase a new set of snow tires in preparation for their next local gig, a just-announced Fine Line show January 18. However, considering that they’ve gone from 7th Street Entry openers to topping the bill at the Fine Line in just six months, it’s going to take a wall of snow to slow Bully’s ascent.

Critic’s bias: Considerable, but as always I meant every word. Bully played my second-favorite show at Lollapalooza this year (after Paul McCartney) and I’m off to Fargo tomorrow night for Round 2.

The openers: Energetic Chicago punks Fake Limbs, whose singer Stephen Sowley ventured into the crowd for a good five minutes at the end of their set, were extremely entertaining for early arrivers.

Montreal’s Heat, meanwhile, were much better suited to the Bully crowd, most of whom had packed into the Entry by the time they took the stage. Heat is currently promoting debut EP Rooms, a seven-song collection of dizzyingly good, Strokes-meets-Feelies rockers that will soon catch fire, if there’s any justice in the world.

Setlist:

I Remember

Too Tough

Brainfreeze

Black and White (The dB’s cover)

Trying

Trash

Six

Sharktooth

Picture

Bully

Milkman

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Who Was in My Room Last Night? (Butthole Surfers cover)


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