“This next song is a rock-n-roll song,” the front man of Frankie Teardrop said, and the band launched into yet another raucous number, pleasing the dance-happy hipsters in the front row. If you couldn’t muster the willpower to slide on the black ice all the way down to the Art Barn last Friday, let me tell you that you missed out on an ecstatic little grungy romp. Though I was one of a brigade of skeptics, the show this punk band put on was a great time for all in attendance.
The lead guitarist, wearing a black muscle t-shirt, was locked into a seemingly constant deep-lunge position with occasional hip thrusting. Getting a few good feet of air at one point mid-shred, he landed in a full splits and continueds his face-melting seamlessly.
Soaked in the pigment-rich red and blue lights, the vocalist’s mouth stretched into a charmingly off-key shriek: the image of a grungy, longhaired Buddy Holly with his large wire-rim glasses.
The afroed drummer added an element of cleanliness and simplicity to the beat in a simple grey t-shirt, enhancing the cacophony in the small, wooden room, bouncing his harmonious crashing and bashing sounds upwards into the cavernous rafters.
The crowd occupying the balcony above, dressed in dark colors, leaned their weight onto the railing, dangling ring-laden fingers off the edge, nodding their heads appreciatively and scanning the crowd below for others worthy of a place on the balcony. The colored lights jumped and clashed on their faces.
By contrast, the crowd at the forefront of the venue was visibly thrilled, hopping in place, head-banging delicately. One kid arrived with lit Christmas lights wrapped around his head for reasons unknown. The visible excitement generally halted past the first row, where the crowd was once again sullen and somber, clumped into respective social cliques. The group I arrived with, however, was an outlier, claiming the back row position in the violently thrashing mosh pit.
In attending this event I felt as if I had been transported back into a time before the innovations of auto-tune and studio re-mastering. While some might consider this a dark, primeval time in music history, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a simple, unabashedly genuine and real experience, one in which the audience is on the same physical as well as metaphysical plane as the band. This kind of gig unites people in a way that just doesn’t happen anymore. The Great Equalizer, if you will. One of the tech workers even took off his beanie to head bang for a few moments, his long hair flying wildly and with abandon.
At one point I snatched a piece of cold pizza that had been left over from the band’s pre-gig binge. I propped open the back door, and stepped out for a minute to enjoy under the light of the nearly full moon and the ever-present shadow of the wind turbine. That one moment standing out in the cold eating cold pizza, the pulsating throb of the band slightly muffled, was an existential one. I went back inside after a few frigid minutes to find the vocalist having a little back-and-forth with the audience.
“Anybody got a Tumblr out there? Original content or re-blogs?” he asked.
He got a scattered affirmation from throughout the crowd.
“This song is about Chicago. It’s called ‘Chicago,’” the frontman said.
This was followed by an instantaneous explosion of instruments. I begin to take part in the thrashing, thoroughly enjoying the unbelievably collegiate vibes.
Overall, this was a supreme event, wrought with utter joy and the excitement and vitality of youth. The Pause Techs claim that the set-up was surprisingly simple and seamless – coupled with a smooth show and a good turnout the gig was a hit. The band themselves was surprisingly skilled and enjoyable in a grungy, garage-band way. Also, they had some killer dance moves. For a ragtag group of local Minnesotan boys, Frankie Teardrop slayed.