Kolars took Minneapolis by storm on Wednesday night. The LA duo is comprised of couple Rob Kolar and Lauren Brown. They’re known for their visually stunning live performances and their genre-bending songs.
Kolar spends his time onstage with vocals and gritty guitar while Brown does percussion with a twist. She wears tap shoes on stage and uses them on a podium made from a bass drum. She’s surrounded by other tom-tom drums and cymbals and plays them all while tapping. You’ve got to see it.
It was difficult to make predictions about the artist who opened the show with a bass drum head that read “Don’t Listen To Brett Newski”. If you asked anyone after their set in 7th Street Entry they would likely advise that you should listen to Brett Newski.
Brett has a lot of acclaim from media outlets – including The Current. He’s been to town opening up a lot of national tours including one last year with The Violent Femmes. That’s got to be a proud feather in this Milwaukee artist’s cap.
The small crowd that gathered early saw Newski emerge from backstage and take his place at the microphone. He was joined by drummer Matthew Spatola. A self-described “folk punk” artist; Newski donned an electric acoustic guitar with drawings and shapes made from tape.
The songs won over the audience quickly. The pair were infectiously humorous and genuine on stage. They complimented Minnesota on its “low meathead ratio,” and performed songs about dropping out of Sunday school, hypochondria, and a lot of experience with van theft.
Newski passed a clipboard during the set with spaces for questions from the audience. They did a Q&A and even sprinkled in a cover of Beck’s “Devil’s Haircut” in the short set. Overall they were the perfect mood lifter after a day of winter weather in the spring.
Kolars came out dressed to impress. Kolar came out in a sparkly black jacket with matching shoes, and pants with triangular metallic pieces down the sides. He also had sparkly makeup under his eyes to match.
Brown was in a dress with mirrored embellishments that resembled giant sequins. The stage lights were reflected in each one and the light danced around the stage as she played.
The duo quickly established their indie cred with their opening song. It was a cover of Neutral Milk Hotel’s “King of Carrot Flowers Pt. 1”. Several faces in the crowd began to smile as they recognized a more dance-worthy version of the song.
Many more of those smiles occurred throughout the night. Kolar wasn’t shy about jumping into the audience to mix up the crowd. Brown got everyone just as excited from behind her drums tapping and dancing to the rhythm. She shook her shoulders and hips as she drummed. Her energetic beat drove the performance home.
Their music is eclectic because they are influenced by so many different artists. At times it felt like they were channeling Elvis Presley or David Bowie. Other times felt like inspiration came from more modern artists like The Strokes and The Growlers. The crowd couldn’t get enough. They were dancing, stomping, and clapping through every song.
The mood of the room swelled with energy when the duo played their single “One More Thrill”.
“Maybe I just want to live my life
Feel just one more thrill before I die”
Kolar let out his signature howl throughout the song and Brown even tapped out a solo. The song absolutely soared.
The set finished with a fiery rendition of “Dangerous”. Somehow the room found more energy as Kolar jumped through the crowd one last time. The band grinned like they had just gotten away with something big as they exited the stage.
They returned to stage after thunderous applause. Their encore was a performance of an old Junior Parker cover of “Mystery Train”. This song resonated as the finale. It tied in all of the sonic landscape they had laid out throughout the night with rockabilly, glam, blues, and rock attributes.
While the room wasn’t as packed as it should have been, it was a show to remember. This band has a sound and attitude made for a much larger room, and we got to see it up close.