Spend my Sunday afternoon and early evening at Crooners Supper Club was awesome but I was so ready to get to my normal stomping grounds and one of my many home away from homes- The Turf Club. Although it’s a place that I feel more than comfortable in, it was a bit odd weaving through traffic. University Ave in Saint Paul isn’t typically the busiest area in Saint Paul but it was on Sunday night as I fought with the soccer crowd to find parking for my show. Although an odd feeling as it’s typically a ghost town, I loved to see so many people walking around and it seemed to somehow breathe life into me as I prepped for my second show of Sunday night.
Gwen got things started off. Seeing the name Gwen on the flyer, I honestly expected a singer-songwriter styled set but, instead, got the night started off right with Gwen’s grunge-inspired garage-rock sound. That’s right, Gwen is a band and although their set was only about twenty-five minutes long, they left me in love and wanting so much more. There was something painfully shy about their performance and the way the band just kind of kept their heads down and powered through the performance but I really liked that element of the set. It brought a sense of innocence that was juxtaposed by the energy and angst they were giving me through their sound. Sunday night’s show was this self-proclaimed baby band’s third show ever so I expect to see a lot more of this band in the near future.
I had never heard or even seen Gwen’s name before Sunday night which makes sense being that it was only their third show but I had seen Mr. Submissive’s name before and was ready to finally find out with this group is all about. I was instantly struck by the band’s composition. Something about their sound felt a bit strange and even avant-garde at times but in the best way. They didn’t bring a classic rock sound to the stage but it was definitely rock-based. I found myself just getting lost in all of the layers they were giving me while trying to figure out the group. Sadly, I never did quite figure them out during their short set but I did walk away loving what I had gotten and, like Gwen, I was ready to see more of it so cheers to my next chance of catching Mr. Submissive live!
I honestly don’t know how to explain what happened next. First, I want to say that I will never straight up “hate” a band but there are things that are and are not for me and, sadly, XOXOTECH, the next band to grace the stage, was just not for me. That being said, I loved the mystery and confusion they caused me. Avant-garde disco-based music done on keyboards and saxophone, it’s safe to say that XOXOTECH is one of the more interesting acts I’ve ever seen. Although, overall, their sound left me a bit confused and just not completely head over heels as I wish I could have felt, vocalist Mariel Oliveria had a siren-like voice that I found absolutely stunning. I felt that when that was paired with the more avant-garde electronic instrumentation, some of the beauty was lost but I also kind of liked how it wasn’t what I had been expecting.
In fact, nothing about XOXOTECH’s set was what I had been expecting. It was experimental and strange to my ears but apparently I just wasn’t getting it like everyone else in the audience. Although attendance was light for the night, everyone seemed to be completely captivated by XOXOTECH’s performance which I really appreciated. Just like I said the other night and like my friend always says- every band is someone’s favorite band and just because you may not understand a sound or a band doesn’t mean they don’t deserve respect and a chance. I’m not counting XOXOTECH out just yet. Maybe I just wasn’t ready for the creativity they brought me but, now that I know, I would love to catch them again with the understanding that their performance is going to be completely other-worldly compared to what I typically check out.
Sunday night’s concert was closed out by Finesse. The night as a whole was actually a celebration for the digital / lathe cut release of “End of Always” / “Honest Lake” and as soon as the duo took the stage, I understood why they deserved a celebration. Prior to Finesse taking the stage, some people I met at the bar had asked what I think of synth pop. I instantly responded that it wasn’t quite for me and they went on to explain that that’s exactly what Finesse is. I was honestly a bit pessimistic and thinking, oh no, this isn’t going to be the way I want to end my Sunday night double-feature but that’s when it happened.
I traveled back in time as soon as Finesse (Patrick Donohoe and Jeff Cornell) started performing. Instead of being at The Turf Club on a Sunday night, I felt like I was a disco-leaning dance club in the 80’s. I may have started their set thinking that synth pop was just a thing of the past and something that didn’t deserve my attention but, within the first song, I started second guessing all of my opinions. Sure, Finesse’s sound was a far cry from the pop-punk and metal I typically enjoy but I found myself inexplicably being drawn closer and closer to the stage with a foot that refused to stop tapping.
Musically, Finesse was on point but it was watching the two members of this group dance along to their own songs that was the cherry on top. Their interpretive dancing added a special something to the night that made their set the perfect way to cap off a music-filled weekend. It was one of those sets where everything about their sound and performance just allowed you, as the spectator, to let loose a little bit and get comfortable with the fact that anything that happens this coming week is going to happen and you just have to roll with it but you will have Finesse’s set to look back on and remember how your week started on such a high note.
Venue: The Turf Club
Average Age of the Crowd: 35
Crowd Surfers- None
Stage Divers- 0
Mosh-ability- 2 out of 10
Amount of Beer Spilled On Me While Walking Around- $0
Broken Bones- None
Spotted Flying Through The Air- Nothing
Fights- None Witnessed
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)-
Mr. Submissive– 0
Finesse – 0
Celebrity Sightings – Ann of Mostly MN Music; Members of the Trash Catties
Overall Score – 8.2 out of 10
Show on Deck — Killer Mike and the Midnight Revival / Trackstar the DJ / Dwynell Roland // Chairman Chair & the Chairmen / shrimp olympics/ d’Lakes / Drug League
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