There are so many venues throughout the Twin Cities that are amazing but The Hook & Ladder Theater & Lounge in South Minneapolis is easily one of my favorites. It’s the kind of venue that you walk into and instantly feel at home. Built within an old firehouse and situated literally right next door to the fourth precinct that was destroyed during the unrest that followed George Floyd’s murder, this venue has stood tall and has been a beacon of hope for not only the community but also the live music scene. I don’t get to The Hook & Ladder as much as I would like to. Honestly, they just don’t have the type of shows that I typically go to. They focus on local music which is right up my alley but it’s hard to say no to larger touring acts when they come through. Long story short, it felt amazing to walk into The Hook & Ladder on Thursday night with a slew of friends by my side. I wasn’t sure I was going to like the show but I knew I was going to love the atmosphere.
Why was I not sure about how sold I was going to be on the music? Well, the opening act was a tribute band and, if you know me, you know I truly do not enjoy tribute or cover bands. It’s not that they are bad and, sure, I’ve jammed out to Hairball my fair share of times but something about seeing a cover band feels cheap to me. Maybe I’m jaded and spoiled just due to the fact that I’ve seen nearly every band I’ve ever wanted to see or maybe it’s just my distaste for old music (sorry not sorry), regardless, cover bands just have not been my thing. That being said, I found myself standing there, in the comfort of The Hook & Ladder watching Who Are They? A Who tribute band. Wait, I’m not supposed to say that. Per their information online, Who Are They? is not a cover band. They are “a real band conjuring the unforgettable songs, epic riffs, energy, and passion of The Who.” Okay, a little cheesy but, after watching their set on Thursday night, that description may not be far off.
Fronted by Willie Wisely, Who Are They? truly did conjure the vibe of The Who in a brilliant way. From the four costume changes that Willie went through to the soaring guitar riffs that blared through the speakers to the overall flawless energy of their performance which radiated perfectly throughout the crowd, it really was an experience I was not quite expecting. I don’t know much about The Who’s music. Again, I just don’t like old music. I don’t know why that is and I absolutely understand the importance of bands like The Who but I would not sit at my desk all day listening to them nor do I have any desire to really dig into their backstory. That being said, Who Are They? had me feeling like The Who was my favorite band of all time. They had me bopping to the music and, at times, even had me mouthing along to the recognizable songs that they were performing.
I was not alone in getting lost in the excitement of this band. From the people up front who were rocking their hearts out as if they were watching The Who in real life to the people in the back who were carrying on their conversations but constantly had their eyes darting back to the stage to make sure they didn’t miss anything major, everyone in the audience was having a great time and there was a communal sense of disappointment as the band left the stage.
That disappointment did not last long as Little Man took the stage. Little Man was the reason I braved the cold and flurries to go out on Thursday night. I’ve seen Little Man’s name pop up on flyers here and there and I’m pretty sure I have one of their albums sitting on my desk somewhere to review but that’s where my knowledge of this local act ends. That being said, when Chris Perricelli of Little Man reached out about me covering the show on Thursday, I jumped on it. A new act, one of my favorite venues, a rare night off– it was meant to be.
As soon as Little Man jumped into their set, I was captivated. The entire band was flawless, but Chris’ stellar guitarwork and vocals really caught me. There was something timeless bout his sound. Although there were clear nods to the classic rock gods of days gone by, there were also hints of an almost psychedelic sound alongside a bluesy rock vibe and it created a truly unique and satisfying sound. The way the band was able to merge seemingly unrelatable genres without hesitation had me completely intrigued and in love. There was something super smooth and perfect about the sound of Little Man but there was also this sense of grit that came from their performance style. It was clear that there were seasoned professionals on stage but it was also clear that the men on stage were loving every minute of what they were doing.
Splitting the night between being on the main stage with a fully electric set before moving to the smaller lounge stage and performing an acoustic set, I loved that, within one night, we were given two completely different sides of this band. I honestly didn’t prefer one style to the other. Both the fully electric and the more acoustic set had highlights attached to them and neither outweighed the other. My only complaint of the night would be how quickly it seemed to pass me by. Had I had my way, the show would have lasted a little bit longer even if that meant there was some repeating of songs. You wouldn’t have heard a single complaint from me and pretty sure nobody else in the audience would have cared.
It was snowy and cold on Thursday night. It was a stark reminder that we are diving into the bitter cold of a Minnesota winter with questionable road conditions that make leaving the house more of a task but both Little Man and Who Are They? gave us all a reminder that those who brave the cold and the roads will be rewarded. To say we were all rewarded with the beautiful performances given in the beautiful Hook & Ladder Theater & Lounge on Thursday would be an understatement.
Who Are They?
Venue: The Hook & Ladder
Average Age of the Crowd: 42
Crowd Surfers- 0
Stage Divers- 0
Mosh-ability- 1 out of 10
Sausage-Fest Meter- 4 out of 10
Amount of Beer Spilled On Me While Walking Around- $0
Broken Bones- None
Spotted Flying Through The Air- Beach Balls From Who Are They?
Randomly Shirtless Men – 0
Passed Out Kids- 0
Idiots Taken Out By Security – 0
How Irritated I Was With The Audience – 0 out of 10
How Many Times I’ve Seen These Bands Before (or at least how many times I can remember)-
Who Are They? – 0
Little Man– 0
Celebrity Sightings – None
Overall Score- 7.7 out of 10
Show on Deck — State Champs / Hunny / Between You & Me / Young Culture
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