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Chariots CD Release Party w/ A False Notion, Hand, and Passions (Saturday, March 12th, 2005, 7th Street Entry, Minneapolis)
Chariots - Photo by Aaron Wojack from the band's website

By Emily Hanson

The 7th Street Entry was unusually empty Saturday night for the all ages Chariots (America, North) CD Release show. That changed, however, as time went by. Show time was early, and I myself arrived late at 6:15.

Saturday’s crowd was as diverse as the night’s lineup, and included bands (and people) from different musical backgrounds.

HAND

Hand had started the night off around 5:30. The St. Paul-based group, made up of members from The Vets, The Stunning and Tornado, make their own brand of experimental indie rock. I was told the set was good, which I would have expected after what I witnessed the last time I saw them at a legendary house venue.

A FALSE NOTION

A False Notion had four songs left by the time I got situated at my table near the back of the club. The local post hardcore group, comprised of five musicians with completely different musical backgrounds, sludged through melodic riffs, throaty screams and intricate musical workings. During the few songs I saw, it seemed as if the joke was on us when Jimmy, the lead singer, made apparently witty remarks onstage that only he (and sometimes his band mates) understood.
Drummer Jason Sak pounded out complex drum parts laced with double bass pedal for the driving hardcore feel, all the while Noah Pastor (of Aneuretical and Brucial) filled out the sound with his catchy bass lines. The band’s overall sound was solid for what they were trying to do, but seemed to lack something. The breakdowns were there, the craftsmanship was good, but it was all a bit dry. At the end of the set, the band announced that they only had three shows left. Then they milled through the last two songs full force and left the stage.

PASSIONS

With a single Korg placed center stage and a red scarf attached to its stand (which lead singer Grant later tied around his neck, making him look like a petite French boy), I knew that I was in for the unexpected. Passions started “on a boring note” as Grant put it, which was in actuality just a rather more mellow song than they are known for. After hearing all the buzz about these guys, I picked their disc up at Cheapo, and have been hooked ever since. Something tells me that if I would have seen them live before Saturday night, I would have been hooked a whole lot sooner. Grant’s vocal parts went from low key talk/singing to an infectious wail similar to Cedric Bixler from ATDI and Mars Volta. At various points in the set, Grant would grab the mic as if pleading for it to listen, throw it aside to find solace in his band mates and guitar. Passions’ music comes across as good, if not better live than on CD, and the “four on the floor” drum parts with staccato undistorted guitar licks on top make it impossible to stand still.

CHARIOTS (AMERICA, NORTH)

At 7:45, headliners Chariots hit the stage, playing (in my opinion) their best track (and the one with the coolest name), “Twister Party Fails to Get Dirty” off of their freshly released disc Congratulations. After a set so energetically mind-blowing, without the intention of sounding trite, honest “congratulations” were necessary.

Lead singer Travis Bos (of the late, great Song of Zarathustra), literally blew me away with his captivating stage presence. And looking around at the rest of the audience, everyone else seemed to be just as entranced as I was. The admittedly vague lyrics make for songs that can be interpreted differently by a wide range of people. Bos’s spot at the keyboard didn’t last long, as he worked his way around the stage (and the audience), beckoning us to listen. At one point he jumped onto drummer Matt Kepler’s bass drum, making intense eye contact and connecting with the other band member’s energy.

Bassist Arthur Gandy stood to the left, with little movement besides the occasional interaction with the band and with the songs (adding in vocals in “Twister Party Fails to Get Dirty”). Guitarist Eric Odness was the same way, however these two players remaining stationary for the most part worked well with the band’s overall effect.

Chariots, whose sound is reminiscent of the late Murder City Devils, has that something special that I just can’t put my finger on. Maybe it’s the use vocal distortion, the eerie key parts or the easy-to-sing-a-long-to choruses. Whatever it is, Chariots has it, and has what the Minneapolis music scene has been lacking for too long; a strong musical framework, and an energetic live show with the balance of professionalism.

After playing through their entire CD, Chariots ended fittingly with the title track “Congratulations.” This solid performance by Chariots that left me wanting more.