I was thinking about going to the Twin Cities since it looked like I was going to be WSPA-less all weekend, but they ended up coming over Friday night. That and I had no place to stay. It was well worth it.
The venue is amazing. All state of the art and amazing acoustics - theslowdown.com
There were four bands
The Black Squirrels
Kind of poppy country folk with a slightly wise-ass attitude. Not great, but they have the potential to be a really good band. I bought the CD.
90s shoe-gazer pop. I didn't think much of them
Piano playing singer songwriter, see above.
Wow. Just wow. 14 or so people on stage. Let me see if I remember this. percussion, drums, mandolin, standup bass, accordion, electric guitar, flute, clarinet, pedal steel guitar, trumpet, tuba, acoustic guitar, and another horn, I think as well as members of the lead singers family singing backup on a song. And in the middle of all this Justin Lamoureux on guitar and vocals.
His songs are some of the best that I have heard in years. The show was the entire CD in order from beginning to end. It is the story of members of his family from 1662 to last year.
I have never heard anything like it. The CD is great but live it is SO much more powerful. This massive sound that was still so intimate and direct. The dynamics of the band are unlike anything I have ever seen in a rock band context. It's a chamber orchestra turned pop and Americana. When the band would hit you with everything you felt it like some giant hand holding you close. And when Justin did a song by himself toward the end of the show, it was like you were in his living room and he was playing just for you. It was sublime, powerful, beautiful, sad and charming. If you get a chance to see any version of this band, (and it is an ever changing thing, I saw them with just Justin, Liz on Clarinet and Jaclyn on flute and it still had that same power) do not hesitate. It will be well worth your time.
And buy the CD. It's not for everyone. But if you want music with sweep and grandeur that still manages to climb into your heart and soul, get this CD. It takes a lot to reduce me to gibbering fanboy. This band went WAY past that point this weekend.