“Hi, we’re Borzoi, from Austrail… Melbor… Austi… Tex…… some continent that borders the Pacific,” bassist Taylor Brown said in introduction as he smiled at the Thursday night crowd. Then the band launched into to its first gritty, tight, purposefully fast offering.
Borzoi has been making music for half a decade, and these three swift, talented scoundrels are in the midst of their first solo tour of the US. Their arsenal is filled with explosive aggression, hairpin turns, and references to literature and history. Their newest album, A Prayer for War, is available now.
Die-hard Minneapolis punk fans amassed for the show in the performance annex of Moon Palace Books, one of the Twin Cities’ coolest literary hubs. The space is an excellent venue for intimate shows, boasting high ceilings that feed into silver ductworks. Curtains hang in the corners of the room, giving an understated flare of theatrics and serving a practical purpose by masking instruments and equipment. A few chairs line the walls, but only posers sit in chairs during a punk show.
The air in the dark room was full of hope and energetic anxiety. The audience seemed eager, excited, youthful, and blissfully obstreperous, even on a weekday night. Out on the hard grey concrete in front of the stage, there was talk of Krakens and bass drum heads, cunnilingus and dystopian health care. While the irresponsibility of punk rock may have evolved with a new generation who take into account things like earplugs and personal space, the release of the music is as satisfying as it has always been.
Borzoi fits well into the sensibilities and aesthetic of modern rebellion. On stage, the trio is unassuming and poised, almost coiled. When they play, however, the band can easily shift the mood from detached melancholy to unapologetic rage. The double-time toms and hi-hat force wailing guitar lines and the low-end attack of the bass to keep up. Drummer Rhys Woodruff slams out the backbeat and uses a gigantic ride cymbal like a cultural alarm clock. Though aggressive, Zach Wood’s lyrics are as near to poetry as punk rock will allow. Each member brings strengths that fill out the experience, completing a wall of sound that is as intricate as it is cohesive.
The local acts who surrounded Borzoi were proof positive of how deep the talent pool in the cities runs. Each act brought sincerity and ability without pretention, making the experience something to be guiltlessly enjoyed.
Beginning the evening was Healthy Competition, a new configuration of local musicians that sported whip-crack precision drumming (even as drumsticks flew through the air), delicately triumphant bass, and growls of angst.
Next up was QQQL, another local trio who was playing their first show as a unit, though all the members seem active in the music community. The group also provided the most punk rock moment of the night when the drummer tried to offer tuning advice to the bass player.
“You’re ‘A’ is sharp…” he suggested.
“I don’t care,” came the immediate response, and the music continued.
Rounding out the bill was Blood Cookie, who provided a fitting denouement to the evening, playing music drenched in reckless abandon while wrapped in a controlled, internally vibrating demeanor.