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Acoustic Tapes ‘n Tapes

7 Oct

Unplugged Lullabyes of the Rocking Kind or Buckle!

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The Tapes ‘n Tapes Tour of the Twin Cities last week was bookended by two familiar rock and roll haunts, the 7th Street Entry and The Turf Club, but the middle show, last Friday was a special event, an anomaly in the life of the usually plugged-in quartet. The acoustic show at the Music Box allowed the band to massage a more nuanced sound and tease out some highlights that come through on record but sometimes get lost in the energy of a live show. Frontman Josh Grier mentioned in an interview with CakeIn15 earlier in the week that the show came out of re-working some tracks acoustically for radio and the full set that the band put together covered material from their first EP through last year’s Walk It Off, as well as tracks that don’t usually get a live turn.

Tapes ‘N Tapes – “Manitoba” from CakeIn15 on Vimeo.

The Tapes were more conversational than other shows, talking their way through some of the changes, but they kept it light, staying “more MTV unplugged than VH1 Storytellers,” as multi-instrumentalist Matt Kretzman joked. The sound carried crisply throughout the room, especially with Jeremy Hanson’s drums, every tap on the rims and transition from brushes to mallets was a precise addition of texture. Erik Applewick played the second guitar throughout most of the set (he did switch to his regular electric bass for “Cowbell”) and Kretzman made use of both the baby grand and the melodica he had resting atop it.

Tapes ‘N Tapes – “Cowbell” from CakeIn15 on Vimeo.

It was especially gratifying to hear things like the horn parts of “Cowbell” or the rarely performed “Buckle” (played for Applewick specially, according to Grier) not to mention that lulling, delicate interplay of “Manitoba” that served as a great reminder that there is a delicate abstraction and technicality that underpins the Tapes’ sound. It wasn’t all gossamer and butterflies though, even acoustic the band turned it up a bit, getting a little angry on “The Dirty Dirty” and getting the stuttery shakes on “Insistor”. Like Grier had said in the interview earlier, it was something special for the fans, and definitely one to remember.

Tapes ‘N Tapes- “The Dirty Dirty” from CakeIn15 on Vimeo.

Also on the bill that night were The Owls, always melodious and always a delight, and Jeremy Messersmith, of whom the same can be said. Messersmith was accompanied on cello by Dan Lawonn and played an ad hoc set, taking shouted requests and playing a more straightforward show, without too many of the looped clips that he uses to such great effect. The set included old favorites such as “Great Times” and “Beautiful Children” off of The Alcatraz Kid (which Jeremy is offering for free as a download) as well as his recent cover of “Norwegian Wood” and “A Girl, A Boy and a Graveyard” which he promised would be on his next record. Hopefully that comes soon.

Jeremy Messersmith – “A Girl, a Boy and a Graveyard” from CakeIn15 on Vimeo.

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