In their first local show since the Tuesday release of their second album Walk It Off, Minneapolis indie rock favorites Tapes ‘n Tapes rolled out new material and old in an exuberant Thursday night set at First Avenue.
For more information on Tapes ‘n Tapes: tapesntapes.com. White Denim: whitedenimmusic.com. Birthday Suits: myspace.com/birthdaysuits. Upcoming shows at First Avenue and the 7th Street Entry: first-avenue.com.
The band’s sound cuts the surging, brooding thump of hard rock with nimble rhythms, dynamic shifts, and flashes of instrumental color—such as the trumpet occasionally wielded by keyboardist Matt Kretzman. Walk It Off follows closely in the vein of the band’s 2005 debut The Loon, with songs that gain energy by hopping back and forth between melodic choruses and itchy, stuttering verses. Frontman Josh Grier’s fragmented, obliquely foreboding lyrics underline the music’s predominantly dark tone.
It’s music that seems designed to be basked in rather than danced to, and at the Thursday show, First Ave’s mainroom was packed tight with hirsute hipsters doing a lot of the former and a little of the latter. In a driving performance comprising most of its recorded repertoire, the band’s momentum was unflagging. Drummer Jeremy Hanson’s complex but biting attack is crucial to the band’s sound, and onstage he’s the most watchable of the four Tapes (or two Tapes and two ‘ns, as the albums’ liner notes have it). A focused and furious string bean in a sweater vest, Hanson went through several drumsticks over the course of the show—it seemed as if he could snap one even on a cymbal. The band seemed eager to showcase the new material, and they made a strong case for it. The live rendition of Walk It Off closer “The Dirty Dirty” was a particular standout, a growling raver that led to a climactic performance of The Loon’s hit single “Insistor.”
Opening the show were, first, Birthday Suits, and then Tapes ‘n Tapes tourmates White Denim, a crowd-pleasing Texas trio whose sound is something akin to playing Houses of the Holy at 45 RPM. While the crowd enjoyed Tapes ‘n Tapes’s performance of “Cowbell” (from The Loon), the song had already been upstaged by the actual cowbell bonked with gleeful vigor by White Denim drummer Josh Block. From the looks of it, that cow had one hell of a life.
Jay Gabler is the Daily Planet’s arts editor.