Laura Lou was joined on stage by four good friends and very talented musicians, dubbed the Loungeabouts: Becky Shaheen on keys & vocals, Chris Kopp on upright bass, Tommy Jacobs on drums, and Nick Mordal on guitar. Together, they create a wonderful full sound of jazz and pop elements, fronted by Laura Lou's stellar vocals, that is quite pleasing to the ear. They performed several tunes off last year's EP - Seduction Lullaby - as well as several new songs, "Constant Distraction," and "Sorrow," of which the latter was my favorite. And just to show off (kidding), Laura covered a jazz standard with a twist, "The Boy From Ipanema," which was delightful. The best parts about seeing Laura Lou live, however, are her frank and comedic comments between songs with Shaheen, the fan group that screams in support of Mordal's solos, and her mom whistling proudly somewhere off stage.
Second up was i like you, very much a band, not to be confused with the popular retail store of the same name in Northeast. This multi-instrumental cast continued the bright Hawaiian theme in costume as well as in spirit. I found myself with a perpetual grin throughout the set, influenced by their uplifting music as well as the infectious positive charisma of lead vocalist Wendy Soleil. As my friend Justin joked, i like you is "Botox for the soul," although as I pointed out, it's "both less expensive and less toxic."
I say this about many bands, but i like you is a must-see - or rather, must-listen - in-person experience. Their songs build up in complexity and pull you in as a whole, mentally, in a way that requires few distractions. I got to talk with Karen, the viola player, after their set. It turns out that she was so drawn to the band, she ended up scheduling all their shows in her calendar, and eventually got invited to be a part of the group. "Be careful what you wish for," she told me, "you might just end up joining your favorite band."
As the headliner, Harbor and Home, took the stage, I was anxiously glancing at the time, eager to run across the street and catch my friends The Person and The People opening for a show at Triple Rock. I figured I could see half of each set, but as the time neared 10:30 pm, I got nervous, and depending on how much I enjoyed Harbor and Home, I realized I might have to leave pretty soon. Yet when Harbor and Home stated eagerly, "We're all about fun!" and continued with an overzealous "ONE TWO THREE FOUR" followed by a supremely anticlimactic intro of the quietest, most emotionally invested guitar picking I've yet seen, my decision was made instantly. Jen, Justin, and I all but ran to grab our coats and escape the hall before these native Minnesotans spoke or sang anything more with a fake southern accent.
Then Better Bones, the project of Max Gremillion (above), took the stage. I cannot correctly state in words how it felt to hear this music for the first time, other than it was like liquid gold being poured into my ears. Something about being two drinks deep, combined with the stark contrast of talent and genuine intent behind the this performance compared with the one I had previously abandoned, left me in a state of shocked bliss. Better Bones performs my ultimate favorite style of music: a mix of both acoustic and electric instruments, with well-trained and unadulterated vocals that sing memorable and poignant lyrics, all combined into a well-rounded and energetic full sound that leaves room for nothing else but your heartbeat. Listening to this set, I realized I had forgotten what it feels like to fall in love.
So I apologize to Enemy Planes, the headliners for the evening, for being in a daze the rest of the night. Your set was dynamic as always, and every time I excitedly await the flinging of drumsticks after the passionate drumming that ends that last tune. But when you're newly in love, old flames just don't quite match up. And I'm still reminiscing about Hawaiian breezes while Better Bones remains in my car's CD player a week later.
Special thanks to Laura Lou for inviting me to her show, Max for entertaining my unbridled enthusiasm, and to all the fantastic musicians who made my night.