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Gramma's Boyfriend dress up
Haley Bonar let us all know, weeks ago, that this was a costume party record-release show, and oh did Minneapolis take that seriously on Friday night. She said that “… if you don’t wear a costume, you’re an asshole”.
So, I may well have been an asshole, but there were some glorious costume present. I saw Beetlejuice, Richie and Margot Tenenbaum, Link and Zelda, Jack Skellington, multiple Pee Wee Hermans, and a couple both dressed as two separate Steve Martin characters (for the win!).
Gramma’s Boyfriend didn’t disappoint on the costume front, either. Guitarist Jeremy Ylvisaker was Pee Wee Herman, drummer Luke Anderson was wearing an involved skeleton get up, bassist Mark Erickson looked like a Flying Burrito Brother, and guitarist Jacob Hanson was a mime ... who talked.
Haley Bonar came out behind a Gramma’s Boyfriend banner, and when it dropped she was revealed to be … Aaaah, um. At first I thought she was supposed to be covered in entrails, but the skullcap and big shoulders made me think something sci-fi. Someone chime in down in the comments with intel on what costume was all about.
Image: tea length wedding dresses
It was something, whatever it was. The band opened with a super-creeped up version of the kids’ classic “H, A, double L, O, W, double E, N spells Halloween” It felt like the soundtrack to a murder, and the perfect way to open the show.
The band then launched into the new album, Perm, with spiky, confident versions “Down in a Bucket” and “I Forgot." Jeremy/Pee Wee was busy not just rocking the shit out of his guitar (smiley face for the Suburbs sticker), but making all sorts of sound effects with his pedal rig. Haley Bonar stopped the rock 'n' roll action long enough to acknowledge the costumes in the audience:
“You guys look great! Let’s have all the Pee Wee Hermans come down front, and we’ll see who’s wearing pants”.
It was clear from the outset that Gramma’s Boyfriend brought the rock Friday night. With reckless abandon, they just barreled through song after song from Perm, and the previous album Human Eye. Lest there be any doubt that this was a Halloween party, candy was thrown, Jack Skellington danced on stage for a song, ghosts flew through air at stage right, and there was a minimalist balloon drop/concert beach ball event that lasted the rest of the show.
Haley asked for stage lights for the men in Gramma’s Boyfriend, but at the time the stage lights were entirely out, and she was being lit by a solitary flashlight for the mixing board.
By time the band played “We R Ctrl” (off of Human Eye), it was damn near punk rock. Haley asked everyone to sing along, and we did (“shut up!”). Fists were pumping during the spastic choruses, and in looking around it was clear that everyone was having a really good time.
Perm’s “Deep V” with its jump-around-and-smash-something-nearby chorus of “I’ve been making noise” hit and hit hard in the live setting.
Gramma’s Boyfriend put such a jagged, noisy rock and roll spectacle that I appreciated the moments of relative clarity in songs like “Forgiven” and “Little Lightning," the latter sounding particularly cathartic for the band, and perhaps Haley in particular.
The band seemed to be having a great time throughout. It was a funny when Haley said to Jacob Hanson (dressed as a mime), “I thought mimes didn’t talk," as Jeremy/Pee Wee applied lip gloss to Mark Erickson/long-lost Burrito Brother.
Rounding off the show was band-favorite Daniel Johnston cover, “I Live My Broken Dreams” played clearly and triumphantly backed with the raucous, rabble-rousing “Bury the Hatchet." If “I Live My Broken Dreams” was the creamy peanut butter, “Hatchet” was the superchunk.
Fittingly, Gramma’s Boyfriend played “H, A, double L, O, W, double E, N” again, but this time with more menace.
“Maybe this time you’ll sing along," Bonar playfully admonished the crowd.
The band left the stage to chants of “GRAMMA, GRAMMA…” from the fans. After a bit, Gramma’s Boyfriend came back to perform Human Eye’s “Lazybones” — a bit of a welcome surprise at least for me.
As someone who had not witnessed a Grammas’s Boyfriend before, I left happy, and with ears ringing. I definitely want to see them again, and next time, by god, I will wear a costume.
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