Sethie Rowemone’s Rock Ramblings
I have found myself with the rare opportunity to review a band before they travel to my own city.
While on a trip to Missouri, I managed to see the New Orleans-based bands Sweet Crude and Motel Radio during their initial tour date April 18 in Kansas City, Missouri. They will appear at the 7th Street Entry in Minneapolis 9 p.m. Thursday, April 20.
The show moved from the nightclub-esque The Record Bar near Kansas City’s Power & Light District to a venue that reminded me of my days as a youth in Kansas City, in a concrete, upstairs, couch-laden room atop the Westport district’s miniBar. The space featured a tiki bar theme along with an array of old-school Christmas lights strung from the worn concrete ceiling.
“Welcome to our beautiful tropical-themed oasis,” said Sweet Crude’s main singer while sporting a mound of curly hair and clear-framed glasses. “Glad you knew the password.”
Sweet Crude provided a high-energy, dance-friendly set in contrast to Motel Radio’s subdued, reflective sound. With locks that reminded me of Pete Yorn, and a musical style that also reminded me of Mr. Yorn, the frontman for Motel Radio crooned sweet songs suitable for a river cruise. While one of the songs invited the audience to “relax and unwind,” the leader of Motel Radio informed the audience that he had a reason to not be so relaxed. During the band’s trip to Kansas City, and their first time hauling gear behind their vehicle, their trailer had been rear-ended. However, he politely thanked the audience in the small venue for their attention.
“Thanks for making our day a little better,” he politely said.
He prepared audience members for a drastic change in style.
“Sweet Crude is next,” he said. “They’re going to bring the heat.”
Sweet Crude’s two singers had been practicing their dancing during Motel Radio’s performance, and brought it to the red-lit stage after an extensive sound check. The band seemed to have the idea that two is better than one in most regards: the band appeared to feature two singers, two languages (French and English), two keyboards, two tambourines, two drum sets, and two violins available for use. Other instruments appeared to include a trumpet and ukulele.
They also brought their smiles and dance moves. One of the singers found herself out of breath and reaching for water at the end of a song, long after shedding her heavy yellow jacket on a Kansas City day with temperatures in the high 70s.
The other singer, who often switched instruments, plucked the strings of his violin as if he were making a soundtrack for a film about a dojo. However, he later played the violin with his bow so enthusiastically that he bobbed back and forth like a maestro conducting the grand finale of a piece by Beethoven. He later took over on the front drum set while his fellow singer belted out a song in French. At one point, the friendly, low-key nature of the venue seemed to seep into the band members themselves as a singer took pictures of the main drummer in the back with his cell phone.
While the black-walled 7th Street Entry will lack the white leather couches, Tiki masks and holiday lights of Kansas City’s miniBar, I predict a high-energy show from enthusiastic young musicians will descend upon the Minneapolis venue as well. You’ll think they had just struck oil.