Vaudeville's big midwest kickoff was the 8th of February at the Fine Line Music Cafe'. It was a night of big introductions, new and big frontiers, and even bigger performances. The night was sold out, the venue was packed, and the music pounding through Minneapolis. Without further ado, here's a breakdown:
It always seems like whenever I see Eden performing live, whether it's as opener--such as tonight--sandwiched in the second or third slot, or headlining, they never fail to impress. It was the band's first performance without original front-man Chris Clark. On his debut, bassist and singer Kyle Fontaine delivered a reliable performance despite the sudden shift from Clark's deep, controlled voice established in a lower register to the treble and higher register of Fontaine. As always, the band's rhythm section, spearheaded by keyboardist Sarah Olson, guitarists Danny Fromm and Jonny Capello, as well as anchored by the encompassed drumming of Adam Szcepaniak remains one of the most solid and hook-heavy in the Minnesota rock scene, with set highlights including "Voodoo Queen," "Jealousy," "Looking Glass," and the band's darkened cover of the classic movie tune "Pure Imagination".
Venus on Fire, based out of Minneapolis, is a pop-punk esque band that is sitting on a great amount of potential: despite presenting themselves with punk energy and power-pop melodies, they have the potential depth of any alt-rock band. Fronted by the spirited Tory Envy and captured by guitarist Leng Moua, the band lacked a certain stage presence that is essential to their sound, but was able to regain momentum time and time again. Throughout the night, they remained unassuming to the crowd, rolling song to song, with hook-heavy riffs and melodies but lacking a certain amount of crowd engagement. However, they are an interesting blend of alt-rock meets pop-punk.
The unexpected surprise of the night was with the performance of Pinwheel, a band that takes a pinch of prog from Tool and a dash of industrial from Nine Inch Nails. They may had have sound problems, they may have lacked a certain amount of stage presence, but this metal quartet has an allure that is brought partially by synth runner Sam Benson, but also by the vocal bravado of Ben Brock. Something was so incredibly subtle drew the audience into a hypnotic rhythm presented by the band. Their music is a simple powerhouse, especially in comparison to their audience interaction. But, do they need interaction? Not necessarily. Their prescense creates an air of mystery that makes the audience come back for more.
I had never seen the Fine Line packed by a local act before. I've been going to this venue for a while now, and I have never seen it so packed almost to the point of occupancy. But, then again, Vaudeville never comes across as a typical band. Boasting a light show, highlighted by piercing green strobes, the set was just as theatrical as it was bright. Despite the good to great performances before them, Vaudeville simply captured the night, swirling it's audience in the aroma of its own music. The show was as much of a performance theatrically as it was musically, with an introduction from a man in a completely white suit, sound clips from "The Great Dictator", and larger than life covers of "House Of The Rising Sun" and "Sympathy For The Devil".
But, that essentially captures the nature of Vaudeville and its self-proclaimed nation, almost solely by both passions. Despite the fact that "Vendetta" is one of the best albums in Minnesota releases in 2012, it simply doesn't capture the largeness of the band. Looking aside the lightshows and soundclips, this is a band with big goals and even bigger ambitions. After the show, I tried meeting up with the boys to congratulate them on a great set and a successful show, but I couldn't reach them: a line of fans wanting autographs had beat me to it. If that doesn't sum up the excitement behind these guys, I don't know what will; here's to the best wishes for their first major tour.