Around 7:00pm on Thursday night, eager fans endured the brisk February air and lined the sidewalk outside of Fine Line Music Cafe as they awaited the first Go 96.3 Go Show of 2018. Despite the freezing temperatures, fans were in high spirits as they anticipated the performance.
Once inside, Fine Line left little to the imagination, though there was something raw and intimate about that; think your favorite hole-in-the-wall bar but with the added promise of live music. The room was a small space with a brick wall interior and the stage set up in the corner. It was somewhat strange to have one side of the stage left entirely open while the other was pressed up against the wall instead of being centered.
Because of this, you could easily see the members of the bands and crews entering and exiting from a wide-open stage right, which was different but also a nice change, symbolic of music in its purest form, without the need of a dramatic entrance to excite the crowd.
The night kicked off with opening local Hip Hop band John Chuck & The Class, winners of the Snow Show Battle of the Bands in 2016. With an insane amount of energy and animation, it was made very clear (within a few short moments) why they had been so successful.
As an opening band, it isn’t always easy to get the energy in the room flowing and maintain it throughout the set. A good performance often relies heavily on the response of the crowd, but the duo went above and beyond to make sure that everyone in the venue was participating and enjoying themselves.
Their ability to call attention to their performance and to keep the audience engaged was extremely impressive. Several moments stood out during their performance, the first being a collaboration with Alexander Rollins, frontman of Minneapolis band, DENNY.
Rollins added a powerful zest to the performance with his compelling and emotion-filled vocals. It was fantastic to see the high level of support among fellow local bands.
Later on in their set they played “Cannonball,” a song that they introduced as being one of their newer hits off of their upcoming EP. As it began to come to a close, this song was concluded by John Chuck literally jumping off the stage and cannonballing into the crowd — something that was well-received — exciting the fans even more. If you’re going to sing a song titled “Cannonball,” it just makes sense to end it with a leap into the crowd. Well played, John Chuck & The Class, well played.
As their set continued, they displayed not only their outstanding musical talents but also a kindness and appreciation for those in attendance. They constantly spoke about the importance of supporting local music, in a sincere and genuine way, even going so far as to hand out a bouquet of flowers to one lucky fan at the front of the room. All in all, they were definitely a fun group to watch, and worth seeing again.
Several minutes after John Chuck & The Class had finished their set, the lights dimmed as Sir Sly took the stage.
The first noticeable feature was the giant light-up brain on display in the background. The brain pulsed and flashed in time with the music as the night went on. Since many bands only have a banner in the background, the brain caused many questions to arise. How much space did it take up on a tour bus? How was it assembled? How was it controlled? Regardless, overall it was something that proved itself to be essential to the aesthetic of the set.
Throughout most of the performance, there were cool and calming hues of purples, pinks, and blues, that shined on the stage and added to the feeling of serenity.
Another noteworthy aspect was the way Sir Sly arranged themselves on stage. It was a fantastic change of pace to see all three members at the front in a line instead of shoving the drummer into the back like so many other bands do. This allowed for equal attention to be called to each member, as they were all within equal visibility. Whether or not this was intentional, it reminded the audience that all parts of a band are equally important.
They were upbeat and energetic, while simultaneously holding a sense of wonder and mystery. Their sound held many interesting dimensions to it, like it was a strange combination of indie pop, rock, and rap, that that somehow just seemed to work for them. The diversity Sir Sly brought to their music was refreshing and unique.
One of the most memorable moments of the night was when frontman, Landon Jacobs, got up on the ledge of the balcony that ran above the crowd and walked across its entirety. Everyone lost their minds, both amazed and slightly fearful, as he tracked along on the wrong side of the railing, until safely dropping down by the sound booth.
He then returned to the stage and announced that they only had three more songs left to play. The fans clearly were not having that, as the next thing he said was, “I hear multiple numbers being shouted and none of them are three. So it seems as though many of you don’t agree with me.” There was a lightheartedness in his response and it was obvious the fans were enjoying themselves and were not ready for the show to end.
As they kicked into their third to last song there was an immediate shift in energy. In opposition to the cool tones that filled the air throughout the night, the room was suddenly filled with bright greens oranges and yellows.
It was like a symbolic transition of colors alluding to the transition in sound. Sir Sly’s performance was upbeat throughout the show, but more so with a confident calm. In this moment, however, the energy was not being invited, but rather demanded, and it was difficult not to sway along as the intensity rose.
After this, there was an issue with the equipment on stage. To buffer during the troubleshooting, Jacobs slid into a performance of “All My Fault”, a song about his divorce he had been roughly writing during the sound checks before each show. He played under naked white lights, which seemed to symbolize the purity of his words and the vulnerability of the topic at hand. When the song concluded, he proudly announced he had been working out an ending for it up until that point, and in the moment it came to him. We were the first to hear the song in its entirety.
The next sound that filled the air was Jacobs yelling, “You guys ever smoked any weed before?!” which was the transition into their hit song “High“. The crowd screamed as they jumped along to the beat and sang along as loud as they could.
Sir Sly went out with a high-energy piece that built up and transformed into a sensory overload. It felt like an out of body experience. All the different lights and colors were flashing like they hadn’t before and the volume rose to new heights. A sense of relief poured through the crowd as the last chord took over and released the built up momentum.
After leaving the stage for a few moments, they returned to an eager crowd for an encore. They announced they didn’t have any “fresh new songs” to play beside one, titled “Oh Mama“. This was a moving and emotional track about Jacobs’ mother battling with and eventually losing her life to brain cancer.
Jacobs explained how his mother taught him about the importance of words and music, and about using them to express himself and to make connections with others. The repeated emphasis on the phrase, “One day I’m gonna sing with you again oh mama” took a toll on the audience as many listened with absolute attentiveness and sympathy.
It was a beautiful and heart-wrenching piece, complete with a voicemail from Jacobs’ mother in the middle of it to add to the emotion. The song was clearly appreciated, but there was a sense of worry among the crowd, a fear that the final part of the night would end the night on a mournful note.
Luckily, Sir Sly announced that just because they didn’t have any other fresh new songs to play, it didn’t mean they didn’t have any great songs to end the night on. With that clever play on words, they jumped right into playing “High” for the second time.
This was a bold move and it sparked a positive reaction among fans who were excited to hear the familiar and catchy tune once more. Many danced along just as enthusiastically as they had the first time. There’s nothing like playing your most popular song twice in one night to really excite the crowd!