MUSIC REVIEW | Run Westy Run at First Avenue


On the way to First Avenue on Friday night to see Run Westy Run, my friend says – please don’t let them have potbellies. I knew what he meant. Looking up on stage is a little like looking in a mirror with a favorite hometown band – you want them to look and sound the same, especially with a band eacyou have seen dozens of times, starting in high school.

Good news. They look and sound great. I had forgotten what showmen the band members are. Watching Kirk Johnson parade across the stage, dance with his brothers and the other band members, pose for the audience, it all came back. It’s funny to think about it now in the sea of the smartphones, but Kirk was camera-ready back when none of us brought a camera to the show. Kraig Johnson, wearing a trademark cardigan, stands up to a 30 year crush. The stage was set with balloons and cardboard cutouts. Very festive.

They started with a bang of Dizzy Road and you could hear the sigh of relief from the audience because it was good, it was exactly what we remembered. The place was packed. The crowd was mainly folks who would have seen the band back in the day. And going in you could hear people skeptically saying, I hope this doesn’t suck.

They followed with a litany of top hits from Circles of Joy and Mop It Up that got everyone dancing. In fact there was a loose mosh pit happening front and center of the stage. They slowed it down with Kiss the Night and Heaven’s Not that Far Away. They sounded like Minneapolis in the 80s and 90s. It’s a harder, punkier beat than many of the bands have now – with a slight country twang, but not as country as many of the bands today. It’s a little more bluesy as well. There is an easy grace that’s hard to duplicate. I hope they have more shows planned!

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