England Swings IV (Wednesday, February 23rd, 2005, First Avenue, Minneapolis)
Featuring: The Melismatics, Stephanie Says, Curtiss A., The Wag, Fab Tab & the Teds, The Vestals, Landing Gear, Autumn Leaves, Pony La Vonne, Faux Jean, Friends Like These, The Conquerors, Ouija Radio, Jan, Hypstrz and more.
By David de Young with Photos by Steven R. Wolf
We’re lucky to have so many local music options here in the Twin Cities. Even on weeknights. But sometimes choices are tough, even painful. On Wednesday, February 23rd, Raven brought the 4th installment of his celebration of all things Anglo, England Swings, to First Avenue and the 7th Street Entry. The annual event features the Twin Cities best bands playing songs by musicians from the other side of the pond that influenced them.
The 2005 lineup was no less stellar than the lineup for England Swings III last year, but I’ll say it right up front: the competition from Melissa Maerz's going away party at the Turf Club featuring Melodious Owl, Thunder in the Valley, Friends Like These and Revolver Modele was some pretty stiff competition for this year's show. (Maerz recently left the City Pages where she was Arts Editor to take a job as Reviews Editor for Spin Magazine in New York.)
Norway was providing a bit of competition of it's own, as Norwegian duo Kings of Convenience were playing a sold out show just up 1st Avenue at the Fine Line.
Those who did make it down to First Avenue Wednesday were treated to some great covers. When I walked in, The Vestals were on the main stage doing a soaring and sweet cover of Bowie’s “Life on Mars." Their set also featured Elvis Costello’s “Oliver’s Army” and Ozzie Osborne’s classic “Diary of a Madman.”
The Raven-fronted band Fab Tab and the Teds, featuring real live English girls (in skirts, no less!) put on a great show of oldies in the 7th Street Entry, at the end of which Raven took the opportunity to dedicate a song to his idol Sir Cliff Richard.
Meanwhile The Hypstrz were on the Main Stage rocking out as hard as the Mighty Mofo’s ever did, including a cover of the Who’s “Can’t Explain.” (The band that eventually evolved into the Mighty Mofo’s got its start in 1978 as the Hypstrz.)
Steve Wolf reported a couple notable moments. One was Curtiss A. ending with "Helter Skelter," and another was Ryan Smith of the Melismatics jumping off the stage following an amp malfunction left him with just the microphone. Ryan apparently hurt his ankle in the move, and even as we check into his condition, we've got to admire his spirit for finishing the final song of the set leaning against the stage. (See photo.) [We heard from Ryan a few days later. He was on crutches for a couple of days, but it's gotten a lot better and he can at least walk on it again. "It hurt like HELL!," he said.]
The crowd dwindled quickly as the night wore on. By the time Faux Jean took the stage around midnight, the crowd was sparse as even many of the bands who'd played England Swings had headed to the Turf to say goodbye to Ms. Maerz. When Matty Schindler of Faux Jean told First Ave audience, “Thanks for sticking around,” before their set, I'd guess that remark was more heartfelt than it normally is when spoken by a headliner.
Thanks to photographer Steve Wolf for sticking it out for the duration of this year's show as it's due to Steve’s dedication that HowWasTheShow is able to share these photos with you now.