Minneapolis label Afternoon Records turned five years old last Thursday and celebrated the fact by showcasing three of its most promising bands in a free concert at the Walker Art Museum. The lineup of Now, Now Every Children, Crescent Moon is in Big Trouble, and We All Have Hooks for Hands was a perfect indication of the level of talent the fledgling label has produced since founder Ian Anderson launched it in his senior year of high school. Even without some of the label’s most-lauded local bands (Haley Bonar, Mouthful of Bees, A Night in the Box), it was a terrific set for a terrific turnout, demonstrating that Anderson’s lineup is as deep as the Yankees’ bullpen.
Now, Now Every Children were the first band on the bill: one of the youngest popular groups in the Cities these days (two members are still teenagers). The emo rockers play keyboard- and guitar-driven pop music. With their bubbly personalities and jokey stage banter, they could easily come off as just a little too cute, but lead singer Cale Dalager cuts through the naïveté with moody and disaffected vocals. The result is a nice balance between fresh-faced pop music and post-punk cynicism.
Next on the bill was Crescent Moon is in Big Trouble, a recent collaboration between Alexei Casselle (Crescent Moon, Roma Di Luna, Kill the Vultures) and members of St. Paul rappers Heirusecs’ backing band Big Trouble. Alexei chatted up the audience, dedicating one song to a recently deceased friend as well as informing the crowd about a new life about to come into the world (his firstborn is expected on Election Day). Those familiar with Kill the Vultures would recognize his rapping style as Crescent Moon: animated, disillusioned rhyming that touches on political as well as emotional themes. The skilled musicians of Big Trouble provide the bluesy soundcapes through which Crescent Moon wanders.
Lastly, all eight members of We All Have Hooks for Hands—another young outfit—took the stage, taking a fair amount of time to get through everyone’s soundcheck (and they were still short a member from their full lineup of nine). While the band originally formed in order to just “make happy pop music,” their sound has since evolved into more complex indie rock in the vein of another huge band, Broken Social Scene. The band’s arsenal of instruments includes multiple drumsets, guitars, keyboards, and trumpets, as well as a violin and bass. What could be a cacophony is instead channeled into fairly restrained and catchy rock tunes. The band clearly has a lot of fun onstage, and their mood is infectious. Though their Twin Cities following is still small, I expect bright things for this band in the future—and if Afternoon Records continues to find talent like this, I expect another five great years for Ian Anderson as well.
Jon Behm is a Minneapolis-based photographer and writer. While his specialty is music, Jon has a wide variety of interests that tend to take him all over the Twin Cities on a daily basis.