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Cooler than You: Love and Rockets at the Palace

Photo by Ben Allen

Last updated on June 14th, 2023 at 09:42 pm

Love and Rockets, a trio of sixty-something British dudes, took the Palace Theater stage last night with a certain rock and roll swagger that never relented. The venue filled to a respectably sized audience, especially for an older crowd on a Monday night.

If you know anything about Love and Rockets, you’d probably assume that the crowd would be rife with black clothing, black eyeliner, and black souls…and you’d be absolutely right. But there were also plenty of regular dudes with custom lawn care regiments, fantasy football leagues, and subscriptions to Prilosec. In other words, the audience included both those who moved on from their goth phase and those still happily occupying it.

Photo by Ben Allen

I’ve attended mostly electronic music shows for the past decade, which has a median crowd age much younger than mine, so it was a little weird having that swing the other way. I haven’t been below the median age at a show in quite a while.

I grew up in a third-tier St. Paul suburb, so by definition, anything that I believed was cool was most likely not. Tight-rolled Girbaud jeans, JNCOs, a sense of perpetual apathy…these are all things that I believed at some point were cool. Alas, I was wrong.

Maybe that’s what attracted me to Love and Rockets in the first place. I recognized two things, that I was not cool and that I struggled to identify things that were cool. They were a kind of high-powered cool that they managed to look like it took no effort whatsoever. I thought, maybe if I stuck with them, some of that could rub off on me.*

Photo by Ben Allen

Guitarist Daniel Ash took the stage in an intricately patterned metallic jacket and his typical gravity-defying quaff of hair. On bass, David J sported a maroon velvet three-piece suit and his patented “mildly surprised” expression. Kevin Haskins looked very Anthony Bourdain-like perched behind his kit at the rear of the stage.

In short, they looked cool. Painfully cool. The way they walked around the stage, the way they played their instruments, all wearing sunglasses in the dark. If I tried that, I would definitely walk right off the stage, but not the three British dudes of Love and Rockets.

Photo by Ben Allen

One of my very few complaints about the show was with the bass drum. I didn’t notice it as much when I was close to the stage shooting photos, but later in the balcony, it was like a punch to the chest every time, overpowering the rest of the mix. I realize the sound isn’t going to be perfect everywhere, but I’ve been to a lot of Palace shows without this issue.

Their stage production was a lot more involved than I guessed it would be. My first show at the Palace was String Cheese Incident with their insane lighting folks, and the Love and Rockets production was similar, with a series of psychedelic patterns fronted by LED rings for each member. They utilized patterned spotlights as well to create a more all-encompassing visual experience. If you were so inclined in such matters, I believe acid would have really enhanced the overall experience.

Photo by Ben Allen

I didn’t know what to expect with this show because there isn’t a ton of information about the group online. They have almost zero web presence, which is both respectable and curious. It’s like those friends who abstained from Facebook from the start. That used to be annoying, but now it feels like they made the right choice. It seems like a lot of musicians focused on MySpace early on, and when that failed, they just threw in the towel for Internet participation.

Daniel Ash did say that this would be their last tour. But I believe he said that about the last tour as well, and when they called it quits in 2007. But if this is their real send-off and they aren’t coming back, it was a really well-done goodbye.

Photo by Ben Allen

*Alas, it did not rub off on me.

Written by Ben Allen

I tell the story of the energy transfer between people who play music and that music's listeners. I photograph and write about festivals and concerts, which I've attended for three decades. I'm also the tall guy you probably got stuck behind at a show. First concert: Nirvana at Roy Wilkins Auditorium, Dec 1993. Yes, I am old. Tall and old.

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