Sold out shows at First Avenue are not out of the norm. Honestly, it seems to be the norm these days. I’m typically not surprised when a show sells out and have gotten pretty good at calling it before it does sell out. Angels and Airwaves on Thursday night– obviously a sell out show. A three act bill of mismatched local groups? Not the one I saw selling out and I was honestly surprised when First Avenue announced it so to say I was shocked when the show sold out weeks prior to date would be an understatement. Although shocked, I was beyond excited to see the genuinely kind and friendly guys in Yam Haus reach a level that other local bands only ever dream of.

The show kicked off with local hip-hop artist Dwynell Roland. I’ve been catching this guy here and there over the past couple of years and, like a fine wine, he just keeps getting better with time. Although Dwynell’s set stood out like a sore thumb from the two indie acts to follow, he was the perfect opener for this exciting Friday night show. He had the audience bouncing to his infectious beats within the first track and, by the time he jumped into the crowd to finish off his set, First Avenue was feeling more like a party than a concert. Although his whole set was exciting and wholesome, it was the moment when he took off his Minnesota Wild jersey to reveal a Yam Haus shirt that was the highlight for me. I could see the members of Yam Haus from where I was standing and the second that happened they all started jumping up and down while screaming and sporting some of the most genuinely surprised and appreciative faces I’ve ever seen. If I had to sum up last night’s show in one moment, that would be the moment. Sure, the music was great throughout the night but that moment said it all about what it means for a local band to sell out the legendary First Avenue mainroom.

After a quick set change it was time for local indie rockers Graveyard Club. I’ll be completely honest, the last time I caught this band I wasn’t that impressed. They were clearly a solid band but I wasn’t really into what they were giving me. Lord only knows what I was on that night because these guys had me sold as they powered through their quick set on Friday. Vocalist Matthew Schufman has a super dark and twisted type of voice that somehow pairs perfectly with the sweet sound of Amanda Zimmerman’s vocals. The juxtaposition is enough to give you goosebumps while not feeling overdone and like the two are trying too hard. When you add their infectious yet somehow dark indie pop instrumentation to those haunting vocals, you are left with Graveyard Club and a set that had me kicking myself for ever doubting this band. Although a completely different side of the coin compared to Dwynell Roland’s set, Graveyard Club kept the energy high and prepped the audience in the perfect way for what was to come.

Before I get into talking about Yam Haus I just want to say a huge congratulations to Lars, Seth, Jake and Zach. Seriously. What a monumental accomplishment to sell out First Avenue as “just a local band” (if you can even call them that). Yam Haus hails from just over the river and state line in Hudson, Wisconsin. I found myself at a Yam Haus show last February and I remember within the first couple second of their set, turning to my friend and saying, “Watch out– these guys are going to be something!” Not to toot my own horn or anything but I nailed it. They definitely have that it factor and it was put in the spotlight last night.

The excitement in the air was palpable as the four band members took the stage and there was a sense of family and community that was something I wish I could feel at every show. Sure, we were all about to watch this band play what was arguably their biggest show yet but it was still just watching those goony kids from Yam Haus on stage. That was the highlight of their set for me. Sure, they were on a huge and legendary stage but I still got the same vibe from them on Friday night as I did last February when I caught them at The 7th Street Entry. It was refreshing to know that even with their power and obvious cult-like following, this band hasn’t let it get to their heads and they clearly still have the stars in their eyes.

I always say watch the drummer to really know what’s going on during a set. If the drummer seems to be just going through the motions without any real emotion in their face and eyes, the magic is gone. If the drummer is constantly smiling throughout a set or constantly joking around with band members when given a chance, the spark is still there and the band hasn’t become complacent. I watched Yam Haus drummer Jake Felstow like a hawk for the first couple of minutes of the set and that said everything that needed to be said. He was into it, making sure it hit every drum and every cymbal with a sense of precision while having this look in his eyes that said, “Holy crap- this is happening!”.

Yam Haus could have played for hours on end and there wouldn’t have been a single complaint from the excited crowd. When wandering through the crowd, everyone seemed to have their Yam Haus story. Whether it was that science class back in the day with guitarist Seth Blum or reminiscing about that time that Lars Pruitt (vocals/ guitar) wrote a hook to a song in the basement of a house while you were upstairs making nachos (yes, this was an actual story I heard in the audience), these stories are the reason Yam Haus sold out First Avenue. Those stories and their completely infectious indie-pop sound– I don’t know why I was surprised to hear that they sold out this 1500 capacity venue.

I can’t stress this enough– Lars, Seth, Jake, Zach and everyone else who has a hand in Yam Haus– congrats. The sky is the limit guys and everyone here in the Twin Cities has your back and can’t wait to see what the future has in store for you!

Line Up:

Dwynell Roland

Graveyard Club

Yam Haus

Venue: 7th Street Entry

Sausage Fest Meter- 4.2 out of 10

Smell-O-Meter – Nothing Notable

Average Age of the Crowd- 23

Crowd Surfers- None

Dance-ability- 7.8 out of 10

Stage Divers-  None

Broken Bones- None

Spotted Flying Through The Air- Nothing

Fights- None Witnessed

Pukers- None Witnessed

Passed Out Drunkards- None Witness

Idiots Taken Out By Security- None

How Many Times I’ve Seen These Bands Before-

Dwynell Roland- 4

Graveyard Club- 1

Yam Haus- 4

Celebrity Sightings- Krista (PR Extraordinaire at Tinderbox)

Overall Score- 9.2 out of 10

Show on Deck- Dillinger Four/ Pegboy/ The Brokedowns/ Partial Traces

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