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The Ike Reilly Assasination w/ Friends Like These and The Lift (Wednesday, November 24th, 2004, Triple Rock Social Club, Minneapolis)

By Steve McPherson

It’s the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, so what is everybody out to do? Drink. And what goes better with drinking than an Ike Reilly show at the Triple Rock? Nothing, apparently, since arriving shortly after door time, I find a line down the block. After a little time spent soaking in the beginning of Minnesota winter, we’re in, and man is it dark. Plus, holy cow, there’s a crapload of gear on the stage.

Joining us first this evening is The Lift, from Los Angeles, who take the stage amidst copious equipment and in front of a projection screen, which I have to say, already gave me doubts, and, sure enough, I think The Lift were a little out of place at the Triple Rock. I know that pretentious bands with stage shows have to start somewhere, but it just didn’t feel right to me to have images being projected behind this band. They reminded me of nothing so much as an anonymous alternative band from the post-grunge, pre-rap-rock era (viz. Dishwalla, Dada). Things like a lit up sign for their merch table (“The Lift Station”) shouldn’t really matter, but it just seemed so … Los Angeles. And not in a good way. If you’re going to be so slick, you may as well write some catchy melodies, but alas. Perhaps in an alternative universe, The Lift are wildly popular, and no doubt fish feel much safer there, because there are no hooks.

Friends Like These came onstage like a breath of fresh air. FLT just gets better and better every time I see them. Besides songs from the EP ‘Deliver us From Evil’ and album ‘I Love You,’ the band played a handful of promising new tunes, which singer/guitarist John Solomon assured me are in the process of being put down on tape. “The Difference” rocked, “7th St. Queen” rolled, and, per usual, “Karen” got lodged in my head again, and hasn’t left since. If any band from the Twin Cities deserves to make it, these guys do; they’re what I thought and hoped the Strokes were going to sound like before I heard them, with spiky, sometimes Stones-worthy guitar and blasted, weathered, yet somehow sweet vocals. If you play in, hang out in, or wake up in bars, sometimes regretting your lifestyle choices, FLT’s music is like the hair of the dog, giving you more of what got you in trouble in the first place. Despite some technical difficulties and a crowd that seemed more interested in their Amstel Lights and baseball hats, the band acquitted themselves well and I look forward to a new album from them sometime in the near future.

After much anticipation, the Ike Reilly Association emerged onto the darkened stage and began the rock, which the people seemed to love. I have to admit that I didn’t really know what to expect, and didn’t really appreciate what I got, but I had the feeling that the show would’ve gone over a lot better with me if I had been more familiar with his records, which Adam from FLT assured sound just great. I could have then been up there singing along with the masses. The very sold out nature of the show led to me hanging out more in the back and not getting caught up in the action up front. Reilly’s lyrics are clearly razor-sharp and his band is fantastically tight, but I just felt I was missing out on his blend of Dylan-esque vocals and hopped-up blues rock in the vein of Monster Magnet. And there’s a special part of my heart resolved for smartass rock, so maybe with a copy of Ike’s latest in my hands, I can put aside some of that space for the Assassination.