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Dear Machine CD Release Party w/ The Adam Levy Duo & Chris Koza Band (Friday, August 26th, 2005, Fine Line Music Café, Minneapolis)
Dear Machine w/ Belly Dancers - Photo by David de Young (click for full set)

Words and photos by David de Young

Friday night, August 26th, the Fine Line Music Café in downtown Minneapolis hosted the Dear Machine, CD Release Party featuring special guests Lili’s Burlesque Review, The Chris Koza Band, The Adam Levy Duo and Viva and Jerry of MTN Channel 17 fame. The evening of great music, copious amounts of beer, and a fun-loving crowd made for one of the most enjoyable Fine Line local music shows I’ve seen in some time.

Photo opportunities were a dime a dozen on this night as both the bands and the audience proved extraordinarily photogenic. The best of the best can be seen here or by clicking on any of the photos accompany this article.

Following up the scantily-clad performers of Lili’s Burlesque Review, Chris Koza announced that his guitar player had dared him to play the entire set in his underwear, betting him 50 dollars that he wouldn’t. Koza played fully clothed, of course, and since no handshake had been made to seal the deal, no money had to change hands. Koza’s set that was a bit of a creeper, starting out subtly and garnering more and more audience attention as it progressed, a metaphor of sorts for Koza’s career so far. It’s as if Koza has been quietly humming away in the background for some time, and then suddenly it hits you just how good the music is and you wonder why you didn’t notice it before.

Peter Sands and Adam Levy 
Pete Sands and Adam Levy of the Honeydogs

The Adam Levy Duo, featuring Honeydogs members Adam Levy on guitar and Pete Sands on piano proved just how much big, beautiful pop music two talented musicians can make together. Playing a set that included some of the best known cuts off their 2003 album 10,000 Years, you really felt you were getting the essence of the songs despite the absence of the full band instrumentation. This is a twosome HowWasTheShow has reviewed before, and I should add to what David Rachac has said previously that this pared-down formation of the Honeydogs is required listening for the Twin Cities music fan.

Headlining the evening was, of course, Dear Machine, (the comma is part of their name), and if it wasn’t already their night when it started, it surely was by the time their nearly two hour set (including encores) ended after 1 a.m. If you aren’t familiar with their name, but think you’ve seen this band before, it’s because they spent a few years playing around town as The Humans prior to this latest incarnation.

Pearl Jam-like bluesy rock isn't normally my cup of tea, but Dear Machine's debut album is a soulful and gutsy offering, refreshing in a sea of indie rock. And, Ed Ackerson's production is an added touch of gold. After just a few listens I knew that fans of Van Morrison or The Honeydogs will like their debut disc. Chris Riemenschneider of the Star Trib wrote Friday that they sound like “Dave Matthews minus the violin and

Jason Shannon of Dear Machine 
Jason Shannon of Dear Machine

sax,” and The Dave Matthews comparison was picked up by many at Friday’s show -- although Sax there was -- and in abundance -- played by Eli Amerson, who also doubles as the band’s keyboard player.

Dear Machine, fronted by singer/songwriter Jason Shannon is even better live than on their disc, delivering a powerful, energetic and professional show. The sizable crowd, made up of quite a few pretty post-college young people, sang along with the songs and generally gave the band a real rock star reception, which they responded to graciously. Show highlights included a song featuring belly dancers, and another where a dozen or more fans got pulled into the audience to dance with on stage.