4onthefloor turns on giant Lite-Brite at First Ave
They weren't the first local band this year to sell out First Avenue. Poliça accomplished that back in February. Pert Near Sandstone also packed the place a week earlier.
The 4onthefloor's debut had something that those other bands didn't, though: A vintage, Jumbotron-like light-bulb backdrop, which dwarfed the band onstage. The furry-faced foursome somehow crammed a giant Lite-Brite-like screen onto the stage behind them. Throughout Friday's 90-minute set, the backdrop flashed different patterns and images, part '70s roller-rink and part Madonna half-time show.
Fun stuff, but the really impressive display was at the front of the stage, where 4onthefloor's members played an unusually tight set with great purpose. You could tell this moment was big to them. After spending much of the winter and spring on tour, the band was ready for this one, a chance to show hometown fans the positive effects of hard touring. "I'm planning a homecoming show the day we get home from our next tour," frontman Gabriel Douglas promised the crowd. "I'm not gonna sit around Minnesota for two weeks waiting for this. I need this."
A sell-out is one thing, but keeping a packed crowd intensely involved for an entire show is another. They had the crowd singing/howling along to "Lionhearted" and "Junkie" at the start of the set as loudly as they did for "On Tuesdays" and "Undertow" near the end, and it was the rare rock show where folks actually danced on the dance floor.
Perhaps a subtle jab at Howler frontman Jordan Gatesmith (who claimed that our scene has been in a lull for the last 20 years in the same interview where he trashed 4otf), the band threw in two excellently chosen Minnesotan songs from the past decade: Retribution Gospel Choir's "Working Hard," followed later by Cloud Cult's "That Man Jumped Out a Window." The latter showed off more of a melodic, anthemic side that might be interesting to hear the band explore more in the future. It was still no match for the guttural, bluesy, slide-guitar throttling of "Workin' Man Zombie," though. Things got a little too bro-rock in the encore jam through Chicago's haze-dazed "I'm a Man," but by then the show only felt like a victory lap, anyway.
- Chris Riemenschneider
Fun. drops Rubio reference
Apparently, fun. singer Nate Ruess meant what he said about last Friday's Twin Cities tour stop having been "circled on our calendar for months." For one thing, he told the sold-out crowd at Myth he's a big fan of Timberwolves star Ricky Rubio. "Who's Rick Rubio?" guitarist Jack Antonoff asked. Ruess rolled both his eyes and his R's as he responded with full Spanish inflection, "You mean Ricky Rubio!" Also, thanks to the capacity troubles at the Brick, the show at the more spacious Myth by default became the biggest concert on the "We Are Young" hitmakers' current tour. It was a big enough deal for Ruess' and Antonoff's dads to fly in for it. The musicians asked for the lights to be turned up so they could spot their pops from the stage. When they couldn't find them, Ruess quipped, "They probably stepped outside to smoke. Is it weird that my dad smokes weed and I don't?" Not weird at all in this case.
- Chris Riemenschneider
Rock the Garden goes local
For this year's Rock the Garden concert, instead of one token Twin Cities band warming up for a bunch of out-of-towners, there will be four locally rooted groups and only one from points beyond. Announced Wednesday by the Current, the June 16 party outside Walker Art Center will feature (in order of appearance): Howler, tUnE-yArDs, Doomtree, Trampled by Turtles and the Hold Steady. It's the first year the event has expanded to five acts and featured a bona-fide hip-hop act. But the localness of it is really what's surprising.