Over the last seven months, I’ve had the opportunity to see the Minneapolis hip-hop duo John Chuck & The Class perform a number of times. Each time, they were brought on to support a different headliner, from Last Import’s album release show & K.Flay’s intimate performance at The Entry earlier this year to an opening spot for their good friends Joywave & Sir Sly at Varsity Theater in November of 2018.
After all of those shows, I made a promise to myself that the next time I saw them they would be headlining their own show, and I would finally give them the dedicated review they deserved. Of course, two of those instances were lies, but nonetheless, I kept saying it time and time again.
I’m happy to announce the day is finally here! In celebration of the release of their song titled “June,” and bringing along two other Minneapolis favorites, indie-pop band DENNY and rapper Dwynell Roland, John Chuck & The Class put on a fiery performance at the always amazing 7th St Entry on Friday night.
I arrived at The Entry at around 9:15, which was about halfway through DENNY’s set. This was the first time I had the pleasure of crossing paths with the Minneapolis-based indie pop band, and as I like to do, I waited to see them perform live before sitting down and listening to any of their music.
I could tell immediately I was really going to enjoy their performance, and the crowd felt the exact same way. Before I even got into the venue, the guy working the ticket window was grooving back and forth and banging along to the beat on a cowbell!
Stage presence is a huge indication of whether or not a band has a chance at making a career out of music, and sometimes it can be difficult to overcome a disengaged audience when you are the opening act.
This simply was not an issue for this band. By the end of DENNY’s set, there was not a single person in the room standing still, and it was clear why they were chosen to be featured on “June” and open this show as well.
I was impressed by their sound, which felt a little heavier live than what I have now listened to from their catalog, and I am looking forward to hearing more from these three guys and continuing to watch them find success going forward!
Next up was someone who I had also yet to see perform live, but was already very familiar with their catalog. If you have spent any time working around or supporting the Twin Cities hip-hop scene, it would be impossible for you not to know the name Dwynell Roland.
Roland has been making major waves in the Twin Cities over the last few years and is one of a few local acts I would be willing to wager some serious money on the likelihood of becoming a star. His album, Young Roland, was one of my favorite albums of 2018, and his high-energy live performances were something I was eager to experience.
Roland’s performance on Friday night was everything I hoped it would be, and even more. Bouncing back and forth across the stage, jumping into the crowd and starting mosh pits, grabbing and slamming shots from the bar, and swinging from the ceiling during the final song were just some of the highlights.
All of this goes without even mentioning his ability to execute every single one of his lines with absolute precision (except for the brand new song “Good Life” which was released on Friday and to which he hadn’t quite mastered the words!). His skills on the mic are already on the same level as rappers who have been in the game longer than he’s even been alive.
With any other headliner, Dwynell Roland would have completely stolen the show. Even with such an amazing group as John Chuck & The Class, he made a pretty damn good effort at doing it anyway. If you still have not jumped on the Young Roland train, now would be a good time to consider doing it, because this guy is the real deal.
After grabbing another $8 PBR from the bar (I’m pretty sure this is not what Prince would have wanted) it was time for the main event, John Chuck & The Class. Coming out on stage with a backing band, everyone was decked out in the same custom made “June” air-brushed t-shirts. The stage was covered in giant paper-made flowers and the energy in the room went from 0-100 in an instant.
JC attempted his best “Young Roland” impression early in the performance by bouncing back and forth across the stage getting the people hyped up before admitting he left his inhaler at home and needed to relax a bit! For a majority of the night, JC didn’t even have to use a microphone because the crowd was shouting back all the lyrics ten times louder than the speakers were putting them out.
What ended up being my favorite portion of the show was a jazz/hip-hop infused cover of “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers, complete with a super juicy saxophone solo, and some fun ad-libbing by JC. It was a really enjoyable moment between the band and audience, during which I simply couldn’t stop smiling.
Of course, the night wrapped up with a performance of the single “June,” which was only slightly delayed because no one could fine Dwynell. After a brief “ROLAND! ROLAND! ROLAND!” chant from the audience, he flew back in through the front door just in time to find his own “June” shirt and join everyone else on stage to perform the song.
After the song ended, and many profuse “thank you’s!” were directed towards the crowd, it was time to head home. Every once in a while you attend a show you feel will end up being a significant moment in time, one that you will look back on and tell people “I was there for _____!”
I’m not sure if this show will end up being one of those, but I have all the confidence in the world that all three of these performers possess the ability to make very long careers for themselves in this industry, and I’m looking forward to following along every step of the way!