The last time I saw Alt-J, I didn’t even write a review. I try to write about every show I see but I had nothing to say other than I saw a band, they played, it was fine. That being said, I’m all about second chances so when they announced a return to St. Paul, I couldn’t help but sign up to cover it.
As I took my seat, the lights went down and opener Bishop Briggs kicked off her set. I had known of Bishop Briggs but she wasn’t really on my list to see so it was a happy coincidence that she was opening this show. Although her top 40 sound isn’t quite for me, her live show was full of energy and that is something that I definitely appreciate. I watched as she bolted from side to side of the stage as her soulful voice took over the speakers. The crowd didn’t seem too into it which was a bit of a disappointment. Sure, her music isn’t quite my thing but the almost EDM-like beats that are underneath her vocals are something that can make you want to get up and move. As her set ended, the stage was turned over for Alt-J. I held my breath and hoped for the best at they took the stage.
Alt-J’s generic indie sound definitely is something that’s for me and, last time I saw then, they didn’t have much of a live show to keep me distracted. I was really hoping for something different this time and, within the first song, they proved that they had stepped it up and were worthy of my attention. The light show they had going on behind them was absolutely incredible. The lights flashed and moved along with the music flawlessly leaving the crowd with a true visual experience. It was when I realized I was spending more time watching the lights than paying attention to the band that my anxiety levels started to skyrocket. I found myself texing a photographer from the other blog I work for asking him how his show was going.
He was at the Michale Graves show happening just down the street at Amsterdam Bar & Hall. Michale Graves has been on my bucketlist forever and, after realizing that I was only enjoying Alt-J because of the lights, I politely asked the people sitting next to me to move so I could leave. I clutched my bad and rushed out of Roy Wilkins. I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever walked to fast before but it was all for good reason. I stepped foot into Amsterdam as Michale Graves’ set started. I grabbed a drink and found a spot near the stage.
I gawked as I watch Michale Graves (of The Misfits fame) play through his extensive set of both solo material and The Misfits tunes. The crowd wasn’t huge but there’s power in passion, not numbers. Even though I had just gotten there, I had give hugs to too many strangers to list. Everyone seemed genuinely happy to be where they were and to be able to see such a legend in such an intimate setting. Michale’s set was full of energy and, as he and his band powered through their set, I started wanting to kick myself for ever choosing a giant arena show like Alt-J over a show like this. It’s all about sticking to your roots and a show like this Michale Graves show was the definition of my roots.
When it came time for the “encore portion” of the night as Michale put it, the four piece group stayed on the stage as the crowd cheered. Michale went on to explain that they weren’t going to leave the stage and make the crowd beg for more. They would simply use this time to explain their true appreciation for the people that came out for the show. Michale went on to talk about the love he has for his fans and it was enough to give me goosebumps. He meant every single word he said and you could feel that. It was sincere and from the heart– the reason I would rather be at a small show like this one than at a giant arena show like Alt-J.
After a generous encore, Michale Graves’ set came to an end and I was left wanting more. I was too hyped up from his energy to just go home and go to bed so, after a couple of frantic texts, I found myself snagging an extra ticket from a friend for the Black Tiger Sex Machine show down at The Skyway Theater in Minneapolis. I got in my car, drove the fifteen minutes to downtown Minneapolis, parked and made my way into the familiar Skyway Theater.
I was instantly greeted with the smell of puke and spilt beer and, as unappealing as that sounds, I felt a sense of comfort in it. I grabbed my drink and walked through the sold out crowd to find a spot that I thought would be puke free. As I stood there sipping my drink, I let the music and the lights completely take over and I felt a sense of freedom that I hadn’t felt during the Alt-J show. The people around me were dancing and waving lights in the air as the bass boomed through the speakers. I watched in amazement as the lights flashed giving me quick glimpses of the musicians in their signature light-up tiger masks.
After being stuck in a world of flashing lights and booming bass, the lights came up signaling that my night had finally come to an end and I had no choice but to go home and finally go to bed. During my quick drive home, I thought about just how bizarre my night had gotten as a giant smile crept across my face. My night started in a seat watching a generic indie-band thrill thousands. I then found myself watching the king of horror punk kill it at an extremely intimate show. I ended at a techno show where, while I was trying to piss, the girls in the stall next to me were trying to figure out how to do a line of cocaine.
Last night was weird. My life is weird. I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
Venue: Roy Wilkins/ Amsterdam/ Skyway
Sausage Fest Meter- Alt-J: 4 out of 10; Michale Graves: 8 out of 10; Black Tiger Sex Machine: 7 out of 10
Average Age of the Crowd- Alt-J: 24; Michale Graves: 32; Black Tiger Sex Machine: 7
Crowd Surfers- None spotted but couldn’t really see much at BTSM
Stage Divers- 0
Broken Bones- 0
Spotted Flying Through The Air- Nothing
Drunkards Taken Out By Security- 0
Celebrity Sightings- None
Overall Score For the Night- 10 out of 10
Show on Deck- Buried Above Ground/ Born of Osiris