Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The Weakerthans, Piebald, Fembots / Triple Rock Social Club, Minneapolis, MN / Nov. 4, 2004

Reviewed by MITM Minneapolis Bureau Chief Pat Feghali

Triple Rock Social Club is located at the end of a stretch of bars and Somali restaurants which stand between it and the University of Minnesota’s East Bank campus. On its other side is a highway ramp. Yet, despite the potential strangeness of its location, the building is a perfect addition to the neighborhood, supplying both a venue that is often all-ages, as well as a bar/restaurant in a connecting room.

The Fembots opened the show this past Thursday. Contrary to what I assumed based on their name, they were not a girl punk band. Instead, they were three men and a woman playing mellow, heavily country-inspired rock. And they were quite good.

Piebald was up next. Despite their obvious enthusiasm, their set was a pleasing but ultimately forgettable exercise in pop-punk. (Note to Piebald: opening with your best and most interesting song of the night, “Long Nights,” may get people to pay attention, but it sure as hell won’t keep them excited when your other songs are just not as good.) The highlight of that set, for me, was, hands down, the fact that the kid next to me was actually nine years old, four feet tall, adorable, and wearing almost the same outfit that I was: sneakers, jeans, and a black hooded sweatshirt. That kid was awesome.

Never fear, though, the Weakerthans came and saved the show. They played through most of their latest album, Reconstruction Site, and quite a few tracks from Left and Leaving to boot. The keyboard player and guitarist from the Fembots jointed them on several songs, but they always sounded just like themselves. Their combination of punk, pop (but not pop-punk), country and lyrical reference to everything under the sun (and ice) is purely theirs. There is no band out that that can quite blend loneliness, heartache, anger, literary references and sheer love of the arctic as well as these boys. Maybe it’s because they’re Canadian. I don’t know. What I do know is that they make some fabulous records, and they play shows like they love being there.

That nine-year-old may never know just how lucky he is to be growing up on bands like the Weakerthans. But I suspect he appreciates it.