By: Becca Martin
“I wanted to hear bands that I like in a great place, to showcase good people, that think like I do. Often when you are in a band the only music you see is the others on the same bill. I picked artists that I would like to see and play with.” That was the driving force behind the Southern Theatre’s three-day acoustic showcase that Cobey Rouse of the band batteryboy organized. TWELVE BANDS OVER THREE NIGHTS.
I wanted to learn more about this ambitious project, and sat down with Cobey one late night to chat about it. There had to be a tremendous amount of effort to secure dates, a venue, the artists, and then promotion-ultimately hoping that there will be an audience. Rouse and his band batteryboy got the job done with the help of great people, particularly Gabe Douglas of the band The 4onthefloor.
As I delved deeper it was clear that batteryboy has a unique sound, one that has been profoundly influenced by the orchestral folk of Cloud Cult. Ten years ago Rouse had all but quit music. That all changed when he saw Cloud Cult and felt charged up to play music again. To this day he treasures the set list that he has from the first time Cloud Cult played “Energy”. Cloud Cult has set the bar high as very unique players in the music scene. They aren’t exactly radio easy but are much beloved by “outside of the box” radio stations and especially by their dedicated fans. Cloud Cult has succeeded in creating a home for their art, and Rouse clearly respects and has drawn inspiration from that. Batteryboy has evolved to a point where Rouse can write from melodies now to get the structure. “Listen and the lyrics come, and that is it.” The song “Minus One Together” is a beautiful example of this. The lyrics read like a poem. You can see the video and the lyrics here: http://www.reverbnation.com/batteryboy#
Clearly, batteryboy needed to find their place in the Minneapolis music scene. With their unique sound it can be difficult for the band to fill just any slot or play any random venue. Sometimes you find it; sometimes you have to create it. Cobey and the band decided to take the leap and make a place for their sound. “(We) need to create, to play meaningful shows for other musicians. We deserve to share art and be able to appreciate it. To create events to spread that mentality, to not depend on venues but create the venues.”
This concept has been blossoming in the Twin Cities over the last few years with the likes of Live Letters, Torch, and Sweet 317 to name a few. Events created with the motivation to showcase artists in a spot where they can connect with a similarly intentioned audience. Where you don’t have to fight to be heard, no game on the TV’s, no pool table, no extreme chatter. Rouse, Douglas, and batteryboy have created a path to where they can find “a place to emote, as art, with music as the feature, not just background.” With the overall goal being: “concerts above context.”
The Southern Session’s line-up is like a who’s who of local Twin City’s elite: Taj Raj, Farewell Milwaukee, Gabriel Douglas (of 4OTF) & Lott all signed on for the first night. The Ericksons, batteryboy, The Farewell Circuit, Nick Costa (of The Persons & The People) fill out the bill for night two. The final night is not to be missed with the Katy Vernon Band, Carroll, The Melismatics, and Fairfax, AK.
Rouse doesn’t exactly know where the Southern Theatre’s Sessions will lead but the journey itself may turn out to be the teacher. This will be a very special series to experience as each night promises to showcase a different aspect of our amazing music scene. If you are like-minded and have the desire to connect in a meaningful way with music then I will see you at the Southern!