Covering Blue Ox Festival clued me in on this band, as I knew when they stopped in Minneapolis, it would be an electric show. A blend of bluegrass, folk, rock, and punk, Them Coulee Boys swirl together all the best parts of these genres into an energetic live show. Celebrating their newest album Namesake produced by Grammy-winner Brian Joseph, Them Coulee Boys slowly worked the audience into a full standing dance party at The Parkway.
The evening started with Kendl Winter and Palmer T. Lee as The Lowest Pair. The americana duo played off of each other for their entire set, turning inwards and seemingly refueling each other through the songs. At one point between songs where they noodled and teased back and forth with their instruments, coyly smiling and echoing each others part before diving into the next song. That sweet and intimate moment encapsulated their set.
Playing a collection of songs off their newest release that came out a month before (as Palmer stated) “the thing”, aptly named The Perfect Plan showcases their tight harmonies and years of history together. Their song about Mount Rainier should strike a nostalgic chord to anyone that’s visited the Pacific Northwest. “Wild Animals” takes on a heavier rock vibe as Palmer’s repetitive vocals allow Kendl’s banjo and voice to fly.
Right out of the gate, there were pockets of dancing on the sides and back of The Parkway. The first blitz of songs hinted at the musical fuel that would later be lit in the evening. The five piece band brings a variety of ways to feverishly get you worked up. Jens Staff on mandolin, which literally looks like a miniature guitar, adds high-end sparkly bacon to each song. Bassist Neil Krause provides the strong foundation and harmonies. Beau Janke imparts sizzle to his solos while Stas Hable drives the moments with drums. Soren Staff solidifies the core of the group, vocally delivering a dynamic influence of country, folk, and rock & roll.
Standout moments include the song “Idiot” where the group vocally built and layered their voices into a fantastic ending. An older song “Sign of the Times” had the audience shouting along at lines. But the song that hooked me was “Find Your Muse” that offered the crowd the chance to provide percussion with their hands rubbing together, with 4 loud claps.
The set also provided a few sweeter moments as Soren paused to wish his mother a happy birthday with flowers. He told the story about calling him mother right before writing “Hammer” and getting advice and support. He dedicated the song to all the people making positive things happen in their communities.
“Put your hammer down
We’ve got work to do
The world out there quit spinning
Now it’s up to me and you”
By the time the encore came around, everyone was on their feet ready. Erupting in celebration when “10′ ft Tall” started, people clogged the front by moving up closer. It was the payoff of a long set where it felt like the audience was waiting for a reason to stand up. As the show came to a close, Them Coulee Boys left with everyone wanting more, but also more than satisfied to help celebrate their new release.