Vampire Hands LP release show tonight at Turf

Vampire Hands LP release show tonight at Turf

Vampire Hands-- Colin Johnson, center, performs his last local show with the band tonight.

Ah, Vampire Hands, we hardly knew ye.

Okay, okay-- no sense eulogizing them. First, the sad news-- singer and percussionist Colin Johnson is departing to Misoula, Montana to pursue more literary ambitions. Good news for him, bad news for fans of Vampire Hands, the band he co-founded. Tonight's Turf Club show will be his last local performance with the band, and with this stellar line-up, it's sure to be a most bittersweet leavetaking.

The good news? Johnson is leaving a brand new LP behind for us. As you might be able to guess, the album is an outstanding farewell for Johnson, and an outstanding album all around. Moodier, lower tempo, and less blues inflected than the stellar Me and You Cherry Red, the album seems to groan with vulnerability and new found nakedness. The trademark oozing harmony is there, as is the sweltering dual-drumming. But abandoned is any preoccupation with catchiness. The songs walk and speak brazenly, and the album is among their very most daring work (check Andrea's column about them last week for more info).

The fate of the band? Johnson and Bierden and the Rose brothers insist that Vampire Hands will continue to operate locally as a three piece, and will continue collaborations with Johnson from afar. It's exciting news for fans of Bierden's lilting near-falsetto (which has been getting plenty of exposure in his solo project Invisible Boy).

And yet, saying goodbye is always a sweet sorrow. The band as a four piece made a gentle, gracious take-over of local music consciousness, happily inhabiting our most intrepid mental spaces for several years. And, like Garth Algar, we fear change. We know that a leaner, meaner Vampire Hands will be just as thrilling. We just hate saying goodbye.

21+. 9:00 P.M. $8.00. With Wrong Crowd and Velvet Davenport. Turf Club, 1501 University Avenue, Saint Paul.

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