LAST NIGHT: Amen Dunes @ the 7th Street Entry

Last night Sharon Van Etten was making swarms of people weep in the First Avenue Mainroom. I have seen Van Etten many times and was thrilled that an equally talented artist was playing the Entry. David McMahon, aka Amen Dunes recently released Love out via Sacred Bones. Most of Amen Dunes’ past albums were recorded over a matter of weeks and Love was nurtured for a year and a half with the help of two long time collaborators Jordi Wheeler on guitar and piano and Parker Kindred on drums.

Axxa/Abraxa opened with a furious Burger Records sound despite being currently signed to Captured Tracks. One of my friends tells me she knows a dude from the band and that he’s the guy in the hat. What I find amusing is that they are all wearing similar duck billed hats that flop together in unison to simple, but catchy guitar progressions. The lead singer’s vocals scratch against the psych-surf streams, while the keyboardist is dancing about the stage and interjecting when he is needed for the bridge of the song. I watch McMahon in the crowd as he rolls his arms up into his shirt and surveys the audience. The audience has distanced themselves from the stage most likely due to insecurity and trying to look cool.

Amen Dunes gently enters their set with the first single from Love, “Lilac in Hand.” McMahon recognizes the distanced crowd and coaxes them to come closer to establish a more intimate setting. Amen Dunes creates a simple sonorous atmosphere with acoustic guitar, light keyboard, soft drumming, and at times pained vocals that seem to heal as the lyricism unfolds. This musical environment is something that is not found much today because artists are concentrating on overstimulating their listeners which can be good or bad. Amen Dunes puts things simply so that you can take in everything the first time you hear it.

Review by Abbie Gobeli
Wednesday, July 16 2014
7th Street Entry

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STREAM: Lia Ices - “Higher”

The forthcoming album, Ices, is out 9/16 via Jagjaguwar.

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STREAM: Dana Buoy - “Isla Mujeres”

[Premiere: Brooklyn Vegan]

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LAST NIGHT: Sharon Van Etten and Jana Hunter at First Avenue 7/16

Sharon Van Etten and Jana Hunter (of Lower Dens) graced the Mainroom’s stage at First Avenue on Wednesday night, playing to an attentive crowd and creating a collective tug of heart strings across the room.

Jana Hunter started the night off with a collection songs soon to be featured on the newest Lower Dens album, currently being recorded. Seated at the front of the stage with her laptop and a guitar, Hunter shared a set of 80’s-esque synth-pop ballads that would be right at home on an updated version of The Breakfast Club soundtrack. The production on everything she played was phenomenal, but wasn’t quite captivating enough as a seated solo-performance. The audience was receptive and definitely got into Jana’s closing-cover of “Maneater,” which ended up being a perfect summary of the set as a whole. I’m looking forward to seeing the new songs played live with a full band.

Sharon and crew took the stage next and proceeded to treat the crowd to a series of tunes off of her new record. SVE has a way of writing and performing songs that are both deep and a bit sad, but almost always end up feeling earnest instead of depressing. There aren’t many performers out there who can play a full set of sad songs and still keep the audience around through the encore. Starting her set with "Afraid Of Nothing," and moving through cuts like "Save Yourself" and Nothing Will Change,” her good-natured humor and stage banter with the crowd kept the night light enough to have some fun.

Playing mostly songs off of the new album, Are We There, Sharon led her band with dreamy vocals and dramatic builds. Both Sharon and Jana commented on the bonds they had all built over their last few weeks of touring together. SVE’s band was tight, and if you were looking to hear something similar to the album live, you were in luck. With Heather Woods Broderick strongly supporting on backup vocals and keys, Doug Keith on guitar, Brad Cook on bass, and Darren Jessee on drums - Sharon went to great lengths to talk about some of the member’s hometown roots and how lucky she was to be out on tour with such a great group.

After a quick breather, SVE was back out and ready to go covering Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” solo with a guitar and a glass of whiskey by her side. It was fantastic. I don’t think there was a single person in attendance who wasn’t entranced by her performance, even though she mentioned how she didn’t usually like to cover other people’s songs. The biggest and most unexpected treat of the night was a special guest appearance by Justin Vernon, who helped SVE close out her encore with vocals on an excellent version of “Love More”, which is why the two performers had met, and guitar on “Everytime The Sun Comes Up.” Overall the evening was full of good feels, a slightly over-talkative, albeit polite crowd, one well placed Carly Simon joke, and just a few lingering pieces of Flaming Lips confetti from the night before.

Set List:
Afraid Of Nothing
Taking Chances
Save Yourself
Nothing will change
Break me.
Don’t Do It
I Love You But I’m Lost
You Know Me Well
Your Love Is Killing Me

Perfect Day
Love More
Every Time The Sun Comes Up

Review by Brittany Walman
All Photos by Jeremy Delane DeJarnette
Sharon Van Etten w/Jana Hunter
Wednesday, July 16 2014
First Avenue

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STREAM: Catbath - “Casio”


Big guitars, big hooks, and clap-along drum beats. Pretty much my new favorite local band.

Listen to more on their Facebook.

(Ian Anderson)

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STREAM: The Drums - “Magic Mountain”

The Drums will be in Minneapolis 9/29 at the Triple Rock.

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STREAM: Perfume Genius - “Queen”

Too Bright, the new LP from Perfume Genius, has been announced for a 9/23 release on Matador Records.
PG will be in Minneapolis on 9/30 at the Triple Rock.

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