Last updated on November 12th, 2023 at 06:46 pm
Minneapolis came out in droves on Saturday night despite the below-freezing temperatures. Lines for popular downtown bars were particularly long, and many club hoppers were not dressed for the cold. I drove towards the Fine Line to see the band Neil Frances, who are on tour to support their most recent album, It’s All a Bit Fuzzy. I passed Cowboy Jack’s and the line stretched down the street for about two blocks.
Thankfully, upon arriving at the venue for the Neil Frances show, I found it slightly less packed than Cowboy Jack’s. I wasn’t eager to stand shoulder-to-shoulder for the remainder of the night, so this was a relief. What I did find was a crowd that instantly made me happy I had chosen to cover this show. It’s hard to put a finger on what made the vibe inside the Fine Line so good that night. I chatted a bit with the venue manager, and she simply said, “Well, everyone is happy.” This is not always the case.
Whether it was the Halloween spirit, getting in out of the cold, or Minnesotan’s natural instinct to take care of one another when the cold shows its ugly face, I soon forgot that I had come to the show alone. Everyone was eager to make friends.
The original opener on the lineup was listed as Real Action. However, the opener that greeted me upon arrival was actually Mango Cart, a DJ duo made up of Neil Frances’s lighting technician and videographer. For about 45 minutes these two spun tracks consisting mostly late 90’s/early 2000’s funk and hip hop.
No one seemed to mind the lineup change, and these two DJs were clearly having a good time. Their energy was infectious, and everyone in the venue welcomed the impromptu pre-show dance party.
Neil Frances took the stage a little after 10 p.m., and the dance party didn’t stop. The guitarist (Marc Gilfry) initially knelt in front of his pedal board upon taking the stage, playing with the effects on his guitar. Finely tuned psychedelic effects would be a theme for the rest of the night.
Neil Frances could be placed somewhere between synth wave and psychedelic rock, and the crowd was transported back in time at points to the sounds of the 80s and 90s, while at the same time being lulled into introspective dance by the frontman’s soft and melancholy vocals and skilled guitar playing.
On many tracks, Gilfry would finish the songs off by leading the band through short jam segments that would end with him showing his skills with a soaring guitar solo and reminding you that this was a rock show. These solos were very well executed and blended well with the synth-heavy dance party that took place.