Local rock trio Alpha Consumer lit up the room at Ice House on Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis on Wednesday night. The event, part of a residency on the last Wednesday of each month, was presented in partnership with Minneapolis record label Totally Gross National Product. Drummer JT Bates (Fat Kid Wednesdays, The Pines, and occasionally Marijuana Deathsquad, Coloring Time, Andrew Bird, and Dead Man Winter) worked his magic of executing time behind a modestly sized kit, compared to the flashy setups often seen in some rock groups. Mike Lewis mastered the energy of rock bassist, though he can frequently be seen around town and in cities across the US with a tenor sax strapped around his neck (Happy Apple, Fat Kid Wednesdays, Andrew Bird, Bon Iver). Guitarist and lead singer Jeremy Ylvisaker (Andrew Bird, Dosh, Guitar Party, The Cloak Ox, Gramma’s Boyfriend) stood confidently and charismatically in his post downstage.
What happened next was beautiful: A performance energetically charged as only music can be when it’s being played live by three people who have the years of history that these gentlemen do. As they rocked to ‘shake shake shake shakian’ the crowd responded obligingly and in abundance. Bates’ time and groove were impenetrable, and Lewis’ energy and phrasing masked the reality that he was playing only a singular instrument. Ylvisaker’s vocal range and ability don’t jump out immediately, only because he does such an incredible job of grabbing his audience and slapping them across the face with space-filling guitar effects, and melodies to which you immediately want to hum along. But it should be noted that he’s no slouch for both vocal and guitar acrobatics. As a trio, they deliver a rare whole package as musicians, writers, and performers, for which the $5 cover was a steal of a price.