Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Strike Anywhere and Ignite Live

Small venue shows can be quite hit or miss. If the place ends up being packed to the gills and everyone gets into the bands, it can be a phenomenally awesome time. If the crowd is sparse and only a few people get into the performance, however, then you have a not-so-fun night staring you in the face. One of the things that can influence the crowd size, and often does, is the time of the show. Usually shows start around 7 or later at night so people have time to do things throughout the day before going out. Then there are the mid day shows that usually start around 5 because the venue is having another show later on starting around 9. Some clubs have to do this to stay afloat. Unfortunately, this is usually a big dampener on show attendance and I figure that is part of the reason the turnout for the Minneapolis stop of the Strike Anywhere and Ignite tour was small. The Triple Rock is a great venue, but only when it’s packed.

With only about 100 people or so in the venue, the Iowa originated Modern Life is War tried to get the place started. Being that they’re from the area, they had a rabid, tight group of fans there that were singing every word and trying to climb over one another in order to get to the mic and sing along. It was quite the sight and showcased how strong Modern Life is War’s fans are. As for the band’s performance, what wasn’t to like? They were extremely tight, used the crowd’s energy to fuel their songs, and played a strong half hour of hardcore. The only drawback of their set, which wasn’t really their fault anyways, was that the vocals were mixed so low you could hardly hear a word.

With the crowd juiced up, A Global Threat took the stage… and bored all but the die hard punks that were there. Their brand of gutter punk didn’t go over so hot with the crowd, or with me for that matter. Each and every song was about two minutes or less in length and sounded exactly the same. At least I could bask in the irony of the band’s image while they were playing. One guy had the chain studded jean jacket and wannabe punk garb on while the other three sported t-shirts and crotch squeezingly tight girl jeans. It also didn’t help the band’s cause that the lead singer seemed to be constantly upset with and/or angry at the crowd. I’m sorry, but these guys just aren’t very good.

Ignite, being the experienced band that they are, easily helped the crowd forget the bad taste that A Global Threat left lingering. Again, because there was a show on later, a damper was put on this show since it forced Ignite to cut down their set to a shorter setlist. Regardless, they destroyed. When the full band was playing, it was amazing. Even with Kevin’s amp going out for a couple of songs, the band still sounded pretty good. The guys may not have jumped all over and done crazy acrobatics like some bands do, but they gave off a sense of controlled energy throughout their set, which consisted of a healthy mix of classics and new material.

The final band for the evening was Strike Anywhere. Truth be told, I was there for Ignite so Strike Anywhere was simply desert, and boy were they yummy. Their live show reminded me of a mix between Rise Against and Anti-Flag performing. They are definitely a political band (if you didn't know that before going to their show, something is wrong), but they gently pushed their agendas on the crowd, and since it was a gentle push it was easier to swallow as opposed to the rampant “F*ck everything” manner of delivery used by Anti-Flag and bands of their ilk. Again, there was a ton of energy being exuded from the band even if there was no crazy antics to accompany it. The crowd was singing along and was into almost every song. Surprisingly, for a tour that is in support of their new disc, Dead FM, they only played a couple of songs from it, instead sticking mostly to the gems that everyone had heard.

It’s too bad that a solid show like this couldn’t pack even a small venue, but the combination of it being an early show in a city that doesn’t have a thriving political punk scene kept the place from being as full as it should have been. Given the chance, you should make time to see these bands… well, except for A Global Threat that is.

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