Downtown Minneapolis was bustling as I made my way through the streets to the parking ramp I always park at. Maybe it was the various theater productions happening downtown, maybe the lingering party atmosphere of Saint Patrick’s day, or maybe just the fact that it’s finally a bearable temperature to be outside– regardless, there were people everywhere downtown and I loved it. It just felt like all is well in the world as I walked from my car to the legendary First Avenue and it had me excited for the show even though I knew it wasn’t my normal cup of tea.
Getting the night started was Hammerhead. This trio may not have been a familiar name to the quickly growing crowd but that didn’t stop them from turning heads. I’ll be honest, I found their music to be, well, just not for me but that doesn’t mean they are bad at what they do at all. Their almost post-punk vibes were highlighted but the absolutely stunning drumming which I found myself to be captivated by throughout their quick opening set. From complicated patterns to just full-out assaults on the drumheads, it was hard for me to hone in on anything other than the drums. There were moments throughout the set where the band was trying to use some sort of experimental electronics. Unfortunately, they were lost on me. I don’t know if it’s because of where I was standing or what but I wish I would have gotten the full effect of this layer of Hammerhead’s music.
I’ll be honest, I knew walking to the Friday night show that headliner Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s music wasn’t my normal listen. I stumbled upon this band a few years ago just due to loving their name and wanting to know more. Although what I got didn’t match what I had envisioned with a band name like that, I appreciated every minute of that show and with how stressful life has been lately, I knew their live performance was everything I needed and more.
Like the first time I saw them, I was instantly hooked by the way the entire band seemed to just trickle onto the stage. A bit like watching and hearing an orchestra warm-up before an epic performance, there was a sense of lack of organization while still being a clear feeling of pure musicianship radiating from the stage. This is a feeling that never really left throughout their impressive two-hour set. Although clearly working as one cohesive unit musically, each member seemed to be in their own world with very little acknowledgment of the other members on stage. I found this both interesting and a nod to just the pure musicianship that every member of GY!BE has.
I always talk about the power behind bands but typically that applies to the vocal power or the power of the lyrics. With GY!BE, the instrumental power says far more than words ever will and has such a sense of emotion that my words will never be able to do justice. Although both visually and musically their live presence comes off as a bit ambient, the effect it has on the listener is evident and powerful. From moments of pure meditation to moments of sudden rage and power, the music, like life, is a rollercoaster that is both thrilling and emotional to experience. The moments of mediation were my favorite. Not only did the music lend itself perfectly to the mood, but the darkness of the venue and stage also enhanced it. Other than the abstract videos playing against a white curtain behind the band, there was very little light. I loved how this kept you from getting overly stimulated by anything else. It almost forced you to just close your eyes and let the music take over your body and soul.
Throughout their set on Friday night, you could feel this undeniable sense of admiration that the crowd had for the band. I honestly don’t know the last time I was in such a focused crowd. There was very little movement throughout the packed audience and everyone’s eyes were either closed or glued to the stage trying to take it all in. Even though every track seemed to flow into the next one without much of a break, there were moments of next-to-silence scattered throughout their set and I swear you could have heard a pin drop during those moments. That’s a rare occurrence for a packed First Avenue mainroom show but not rare for a GY!BE show which just added to the magic that was their Friday night performance.
Although I’m still not a huge fan of GY!BE’s music, I continue to be struck by the power and beauty of their live shows and it’s something that I hope I don’t have to go too long without experiencing again.
Venue: First Avenue
Average Age of the Crowd: 38
Crowd Surfers- None
Mosh-ability- 1 out of 10
Sausage-Fest Meter- 9 out of 10
Stage Divers- None
Amount of Beer Spilled On Me While Walking Around- $0
Broken Bones- None Noticed
Spotted Flying Through The Air- Nothing
Fights- None Witnessed
Idiots Taken Out By Security- None
How Many Times I’ve Seen These Bands Before (or at least how many times I can remember)-
Hammerhead – 0
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – 1
Celebrity Sightings – None
Overall Score- 7 out of 10
Show on Deck- Dave Hause & The Mermaid / James Eugene Russell
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