Australia’s Middle Kids made a stop at the 7th Street Entry on a chilly December night. They played the same venue in 2017 on the heels of strong (and deserved) SXSW buzz. This time, though, they sold the place out. Rarely has a sold-out show at the Entry felt so packed.
Middle Kids have been busy. Since playing here last, they’ve opened for Bloc Party, worked with Ryan Adams, and have played on a number of American TV shows. It was nice to catch them in such an intimate setting, even if their sound is built for a much bigger space.
New York four-piece The Shacks opened the show. They began their groovy, retro-inspired set with an instrumental that reminded me of the B-52’s “Rock Lobster.” Their sound is reminiscent of the Animals and Jefferson Airplane, but with a modern twist.
The keyboardist, guitarist, and drummer were exceptionally tight, shaping a sound that gave lead singer Shannon Wise a suitable platform to enchant the crowd. Which she did, even after dropping an ill-advised “Hello Milwaukee!” at the beginning of the show (she’s in good company, Ringo Starr did the same thing at a show here a few years back). As good Minnesotans do, we forgave her immediately, and the band was a little surprised at the display of Minnesota nice.
It’s not like they mixed Minneapolis and St. Paul, am I right?
Shannon had a carefree aura, confidently swaying with her bass as she laid down light and airy vocals. She even subtly called out certain guys in the crowd during “Strange Boy,” causing each of them to blush. Her dreamy, “blink and you’ll miss it” wit was quite charming. Musically, the band is for fans of bluesy, surfy, psychedelic pop.
Middle Kids hit the stage exuberantly, beginning their set with “Never Start” from their 2018 album Lost Friends.
They kept things light between songs, at one point commenting on how we must be the strongest people in the world to deal with our weather. Drummer Harry Day joked about his beloved long johns, while the rest of the band hinted that they were pretty happy to have warm jackets. The crowd definitely heated up the room, though, providing a great atmosphere for their positive energy and well-crafted indie rock.
Hannah Joy’s big voice and poignant lyrics echoed through the venue, remaining powerful even during heavier songs. They didn’t save all of their most popular material for last, mixing in “Salt Eyes” and “Edge of Town” early in the set, which excited the crowd. Another highlight was “Maryland,” a song about the lead singers move from her homeland of Australia to, you guessed it, Maryland:
If I stay, will I find
The space I’m assigned to live out my days?
If I go, every road
The freedom I need for infinity
Hannah sat down at the piano to perform the emotional “Doing It Right.” The crowd was so attentive that you could surely hear a pin drop, even during the somber, quieter moments. The rest of the band came back onstage for “Tell Me Something” and “Don’t Be Hiding,” which kept things emotional but lightened up the mood. Harry Day and Tim Fitz’s rhythm section was especially tight.
The end of the set was especially strong. “Don’t Be Hiding,” a bubbly song about “learning to love your bod,” obviously resonated with the crowd, which sang along with every word. “Please” was electric, balancing out the more quiet moments of the set. You could certainly hear the influence of the Pixies and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The song transitioned well into the Lost Friends title track and “So Long, Farewell, I’m Gone”.
Hannah laughed as she explained that they weren’t leaving the stage for the encore. The applause that most bands miss must have given them extra energy, as they tore through their two-song encore (“Brought It” and fan favorite “Mistake”).
Middle Kids clearly gave everything they had in their performance at the Entry. They’re definitely a band on the rise. If you want to see them next time, you’ll probably have to go next door to the Mainroom.
On My Knees
Edge of Town
Doing It Right
Tell Me Something
Don’t Be Hiding
Fire In Your Eyes
So Long, Farewell, I’m Gone