Show review: Sleeping in the Aviary’s tour commencement at Triple Rock

by Mark Brenden


The last couple years in Minneapolis music have been under a half nelson of what can only be described by the oxymoronically jumbled phrase of “mainstream indie music.” Gayngs. Messersmith. Lookbook. Mallman. Yada yada.

            But enough about mediocrity. Minneapolis has a better representation bustling in its underbelly. And it was showcased for $5 Thursday night at the Triple Rock.

            Sleeping in the Aviary, whose latest LP “Great Vacation!” was among the most impressive local efforts of 2010, were joined by buddies Buffalo Moon, Phantom Tails and Nice Purse in Thursday night’s rock ‘n’ rollin’, genitalia flailin’ whirlwind of a show. Aviary’s brand of intelligent pop is at once familiar and highly original, most notably on “Vacation!” which contains a symphonic gargle choir, which in my research (a diligent googling of “gargle choir”) is a wholly new concept.

            The night was kickstarted by Picked-to-Click nominees Buffalo Moon, who showed a decidedly more eclectic 2011 set, adding creatively primal drum sounds and funky riffs to their signature bossanova pop that made them almost famous in 2010. Not even a flamboyant clarinet, a rambunctious funk guitar, a honky-tonk lady bass player and a tornado drummer could divert the audience’s eyes from the way vocalist Karen Freire weaves sexiness on a loom.

            Phantom Tails were next with the gut-punching, drum-machine driven rock ‘n’ roll that does everything but mess around. Their attitude wayward like a rolling stone, their melodies dirty like teen spirit and their swag fly like a G6, the Tails are in the cream of the crop as far as straight rock ‘n’ roll goes in Minneapolis. Check out their high-flying LP “Sounds of the Hunchback Whale,” another consideration for best local music of the year that was.

            I wasn’t being cute when I said genitalia flailin’ earlier — Sleeping in the Aviary’s show culminated with (full) front(al)man Elliot Kozel on top of his amp with nothing but his geetar stapped to his body. While that schtick was honestly rather offensive (just when you thought you’ve seen it all. In my (grandpa’s) day, pelvic movement was enough to write your congressman … damn kids), the rest of the set displayed what looked like the best band in Minneapolis having a genuinely great goddamn time in their hometown before they hit the road.

            The closers, Nice Purse, fell victim to the traditions of a bar set that begins after midnight — everybody let’s it all hang out (i.e. gets too drunk). Their set was imperfect, a couple songs ended prematurely and they were never quite able to pull it all together, but it had heart. Rock ‘n’ roll never claimed to be perfect and the group did show some promising chops beneath the chaos. Look out for these guys (and girl) in 2011.

            The packed Triple Rock (at 9 p.m. on a Thursday, mind you) proved that this wave of fun-loving music has seized Minneapolis’ interest. The question now becomes when will it snatch that of the non-landlocked US?