Minneapolis indie band Usonia to start Cause residency

Local band Usonia talks trajectory and their residency at Cause.

Local band Usonia rehearses in their space in Minneapolis on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013.

Bridget Bennett

Local band Usonia rehearses in their space in Minneapolis on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013.

Joe Kellen

When you think about architecture, images of a ragin’ party probably don’t come to mind. This does not mean that Frank Lloyd Wright couldn’t inspire the name of local dance floor fiends Usonia.

Wright used the term for his idea of open-concept houses with flowing floor plans. As you might expect, the Minneapolis-based band’s sound isn’t dissimilar from his vision.

Usonia guides you through its sonic home with a pair of dancing shoes. Brandishing throbbing bass lines, Bee Gees-like falsetto and a penchant for pop riffs, their latest album “What’s Fresh” is an undemanding, groovy record.

Based on how tight they sound, the five-piece should settle just as nicely into their residency at Cause Spirits and Soundbar this September. They’ll be setting up the lineup and performing every Wednesday — a rare creative opportunity for an up-and-coming group.

Lead vocalist Ross Vander Werf couldn’t really believe it.

“We’ll need a lot of power strips,” he said.

The band members look forward to the residency as a chance to showcase the work of other artists. Each night will include music with a different feel, with 12 bands ranging from Tickle Torture to Bright Giant spread throughout the month.

“Since we’ve been together for so long, we want to get really nerdy and progressive,” lead guitarist Zack Carroll said. “Maybe make each other laugh. Experiment on the crowd — it’s fun to try something new and see how people react.”

That reaction is one of Usonia’s main sources for composition. The shoulder-popping danceability of “What’s Fresh” came from observations by the band.

“This is the first time I’ve been in band where we start playing a song and people start dancing,” Carroll said. “People normally just listen and cross their arms and clap at the end like for any indie band. Once we saw people actually bust out on to the dance floor, we decided to make this album.”

Unplanned is the name of the game, and it’s been like that from the start.

“I had just moved from Des Moines…” Vander Werf said. “I wanted to play with people I didn’t know and see what would happen, and then I met Zack.”

The connection between band members is the most important component of what makes Usonia tick, he said.

“We’re finding out that we don’t know anything. We figure it out together. There’s a lot of horsepower in the band,” Vander Werf said.

The group is still tightening the screws on the new material and Usonia continues to look forward to possibly expanding their musical floor space — Carroll joked that maybe they’ll trade in the disco for the dramatic if all goes according to plan.

“We have some very serious ideas about writing ‘Stepdad: The Musical,’ he said. “We have lots of motifs.”


What: Usonia

When: Wednesdays in September, 9 p.m.

Where: Cause Spirits and Soundbar, 3001 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis

Cost: Free

Ages: 21+