Sometimes there are so many great acts in town you can’t fit them all in or you run out of money or friends willing to put up with your weeknight shenanigans. Last week was definitely one of those weeks! There were a couple of shows I didn’t make it to but I make did make it out to the Cults show at First Avenue and also Metric and Paramore at Roy Wilkins Auditorium on November 23rd.
Artwork from the Cults album Static.
CULTS AT FIRST AVENUE—NOVEMBER 22ND 2013
This was my first Cults show so I had no expectations going in. I also hadn’t yet listened to their new album Static but I bought it at the show—because I’m that person that buys merch! The night opened with Mood Rings, whose set I missed and then SAACO, which warmed things up with a groovy mellow psychedelic rock set.
Cults took the stage opening with High Road, a track from their new album Static which has a pop-synth psychedelic feel. Then they launched into Abducted, a popular track from their first album. I don’t think I realized how high some of those vocals are until I heard lead vocalist Madeline Follin sing them live. Follin and co-creator Brian Oblivion lead the rest of the band in a tight set of hits on a dimly lit stage. At first I was like—dude, I can’t see you—but my eyes adjusted. :p Apparently they used to play on an even darker stage!
There is a soft, ethereal quality to their music that to me feels like a modern twist on the psychedelic era works like Pink Floyd’s See Emily Play and the 80’s short-lived band The Three O’Clock. The mix is sort of on one plane, with the vocals not lying far on top of that. Their use of reverb and synths gives them a unique sound and the chord progressions and vocal arrangements at times feel like they come from an almost-Motown place. The lights were magical and I tried to capture them in the gif below!
Cults at First Avenue in Minneapolis, MN.
I hope to see them again soon and highly recommend the new album Static—a solid sophomore album effort. They’re opening for the Pixies in 2014 so that will definitely be something to look forward to.
Cults Set List:
Never Saw The Point
You Know What I Mean
I Can Hardly Make You Mine
Oh My God
METRIC & PARAMORE AT ROY WILKINS AUDITORIUM—NOVEMBER 23RD 2013
Originally I bought tickets to see Metric, which I thought was going to be double headlining with Paramore. I had missed the Rock The Garden show that Metric headlined in Minneapolis last summer and was sorry I missed out when I heard the live stream on local public radio station, The Current. It turned out that Metric’s set was a short one this time but it included a few of my favorites, including Synthetica (also the name of their most recent album), Youth Without Youth and Gold Guns Girls.
Metric performing at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul, MN on November 23rd, 2013.
Lead singer Emily Haines gave a super energetic performance bouncing around on stage in some sexy short shorts and a super badass jacket with long gold fringe (swoony fashion moment) while still delivering an amazing vocal. My friend: She does not need to go to the gym. Indeed. Guitarist James Shaw grounded the act with solid rhythms and leads. It was a short set and I wanted it to last so much longer so I hope they visit again soon! Yo DJs—they’re also releasing a cool new app for remixing their songs & you can read all about it on their website. Also of note, synth pop band Hellogoodbye opened for Metric and they were really fun. The crowd seemed to know their music and the happy hipster vibe of lead singer Forrest Kline was contagious.
The cool Metric shirt I got at the show!
I had never heard Paramore live and didn’t really know much about them until I started research for this post. But I’ve always admired Hayley Williams’ vocal talent, style and the positive self-image she seems to project. I think a lot of artists hate the R word—Role Model—but Williams seems to wear it well. I don’t know what I was expecting of The Self Titled Tour, but Paramore blew me away with their awesomeness. It was the sort of show you’d see every time in the 80’s—very high production values, including a pretty awesome light show and a super tight band.
Paramore performing at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul, MN.
On top of a great performance, Hayley spoke to her fans in a very authentic voice.
Whatever troubles or drama this band had due to a change in membership (which Williams eluded to in her comments), the end result works as far as this new fan is concerned. When I researched the drama, I did a virtual eye-roll—because of course people make mistakes when dealing with band relationships and of course choosing to go on when there are creative differences is the right thing to do! If Van Halen did it, Paramore can too. Amen. Let’s go to dinner now.
The set was broken up by short, campy ‘Interludes’ that are also on the album.
Williams, with the help of bandmates Jeremy Davis and Taylor York, took to a center-weighted spotlight at the corner of the stage for mini acoustic vaudeville style numbers. If I had any criticism it would be that there is definitely that LA ‘studio band’ feel (and yes I’m aware that they are from TN) that is a different vibe than most of the bands I’m used to seeing—you get the feeling they are not a close knit group. But sometimes that is just a natural result of being on a really big stage. And this is an act that could live in Vegas. But dang if the positivity of everyone singing and dancing and even someone GETTING ENGAGED during The Only Exception wasn’t just pretty darn fun.
A colorful grand finale by Paramore.
Paramore fans on their tip-toes.
Paramore Set List:
Fast In My Car
That’s What You Get
Interlude: I’m Not Angry Anymore
When It Rains
Brick By Boring Brick
Ain’t It Fun
The Only Exception
In The Mourning (also covering Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide)
Interlude: Moving On
Still Into You