Live Review: Marnie Stern, Gay Beast and Food Pyramid
When I first saw that Marnie Stern was returning to to Minneapolis and the 7th Street Entry, I would have been hard pressed to guess that her headlining set would be the most pop centric and straightforward part of an outstanding triple bill. While no one would mistake her for Jewel, Stern’s set, while still great, served as a perfect culmination to opening sets by two bands, one new and the other more established, that were simply amazing. The fact that there was a Marnie Stern set, something that in and of itself is worth leaving your house for and parting with your hard earned cash, only made it that much better of an evening.
The first band of the night were the rising local group Food Pyramid, who recently released their debut tape I on Moon Glyph (rumor has it II is going to be dropped soon). While I really loved their debut, I was a little apprehensive seeing the group for the first time, expecting a heady and spacey set that was going to lose me in the ether. While the group did their share of electronic noodling during the 40 minute set, they were surprisinglyfunky and upbeat with their double synth, percussion and bass setup. There was most definitely some cosmic journeys going on, but the group was especially dynamic when they allowed themselves a reprievefrom navel gazing and cranked up the beat. Going into the night wondering if I would like their live material as much as their recorded material, I left with an even greater appreciation for a band who are quickly becoming making a name for themselves.
Up next was a more established entity in the local scene, but one that never seems to lose a step. Three piece art rock group Gay Beast were as enthralling as ever, diluting melodies in time signature changes, sweeping synths, deft guitar work and propulsive drumming. While I could go on about Gay Beast, most local music fans know the band well. If you don’t, check out their recorded work and more importantly see them live, as they are a force to be reckoned with.
As I said at the top, I felt pretty much like I had gotten my moneys worth from the two bands, so anything else would be gravy. To my good luck, what was left was much better than any old band, it was Marnie Stern. Stern is a diminutive virtuoso guitar player who matches her deft axe work with frantic vocals and emotive songwriting. The result, backed by driving bass lines and kinetic, hyperactive drum work, is tight and focused to the max on record, to the point where some feel like it is overkill. Live, the group isn’t able to nail every finger tap and vocal harmony, but it only makes the music more endearing. Stern was funny and self deprecating, which made her complex and polyrhythmic songs even more enjoyable. There is a reason no one likes Steve Vai, you know? In the end, Stern was the least avant garde band of the night (which I assume often is not the case), but still produced a highly enjoyable and entertaining set. It is rare that there is a three band lineup that doesn’t let you down any step of the way, but Tuesday night at the Entry was one of those nights.