Event Review: The Southern Sessions – Hosted by: batteryboy

Overview of the Southern Sessions

By Becca Martin

“Community Cake” was the message. Three sweeping nights of local music in the Southern Theatre’s majesty. Cobey Rouse of batteryboy had been frank about the fact that he had invited artists that had embraced him in the Minneapolis music scene. Comrades who wanted to perform in an acoustically awesome space. It was a concept Cloud Cult had inspired. The Southern Theatre delivered, the sound was cathedral like. The Southern’s staff brought it, helpful and proficient. A sense of community was evident in the attendees. People mingled in the common area, excited to join in the “be here now” of it. A more relaxed vibe than your local hipster club, it seemed to spread to the artists who regaled the audience with charming stories.

Ben Burwell of TajRaj divulged that the song “Alder Tree” had been inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien. The crowd went mad, heckling him as a LOTR’s nerd, even the band chimed in. Lead singer Ben Lubeck of Farewell Milwaukee told a tale of opening for the Lumineers in WI where he hales from. During a ballad with moments of silence, all he could hear was beer cans cracking open in unison. It turned out that the venue was selling six packs~only across the border! His band mates chided WI folks as alcoholics and serial killers, all in fun of course. Dynamo Katy Vernon compared the sound of the Southern to that of the “perfect loo.” She had recorded her first demo in a bathroom so it was a “comfortable spot for her.” Each night, Eric Carranza of batterboy asked that someone bring cake. It became a standing joke that morphed into a discussion about “community cake” being symbolic of what the sessions were all about. Shared experience, and being present. I couldn’t resist, and on night three brought in cupcakes for the audience. Eric was floored, and that made it even better. Carroll joked that the drummer brought extra clothes for his drum, but really it was to soften his hard-hitting technique that drives their normally louder sound. There are more quips I can’t remember, sorry if I left any out. I might have purposely left one or two out…For example “tweet.”

The bands! WOW! Night one started with LOTT~Leah Ottman. She is a violin soloist with a beautiful voice, and a member of batteryboy. Gabriel Douglas of The 4OTF performed an explosive solo set that got me out of my seat. What a strong and mesmerizing delivery! TajRaj played a tight set with additional vocals provided by Bethany Larson. Batteryboy played new and old songs with joy. Recently added drummer Colin was a good fit. Cobey and Eric exchanged friendly jabs while Hilary and Leah looked on amusedly. Farewell Milwaukee wrapped the evening up. The band had great melodies, and seemed to love being onstage. It is hard to look away from Ben Lubeck who emotes with his body language.

Night Two began with LOTT, Leah showing her budding prowess as a solo artist. Nick Costa of The Person & the People was a one-man force with abundant humorous banter. Batteryboy really let fly, Cobey and the band held nothing back. The Farewell Circuit’s Danny O’Brien got the crowd involved sing along style with an acoustic version of “We Usually Get Up.” The Erickson’s brought what they do best, harmonizing as only sisters can. It is a total pleasure to watch their non-verbal communication at work. The sisters concentrated on new songs that will be on an upcoming album.

Night Three rocked harder. The Katy Vernon band along with horn player Paul Odegaard got the night started. Katy has been such a huge supporter of the music scene and her love of performing shows. Fairfax, AK played a beautiful set, every song hitting the mark in their brand of loud folk-rock. Pat Dougherty’s guitar displayed the message “this machine kills fascists.” During the batteryboy set the “community” cupcakes were dispersed and devoured. The band gave it all that they had, sounding orchestral. The way that Cobey played reminded me of the famous Beatles quote “I’ve got blisters on me fingers.” Carroll, who are hot right now and soon to release a new album, played a nice set in their happy, “trippin’choly” way. Their sound was suggestive of Thom Yorke/Radiohead. The Melismatics were new to me, and I am a convert. The way that the vocalists play off one another is reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac.

Cobey Rouse and batteryboy put a lot into the Southern Sessions. I hope that more music finds its way to the Southern Theatre. There is talk of another session in the fall. I will be there, and I really hope that you will too. The Southern Sessions were very special, cheers to all who participated! Community Cake!

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One Response

  1. […] series’s first run was popular and well-reviewed. “WOW!” wrote Becca Martin in Rift Magazine. “The Southern Sessions were very special.” Martin explained how the series cultivated […]

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