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By: Bogar Alonso
Tapes ‘n Tapes’ US winter tour was bookended with a kick-off show January 15 in Omaha and its culmination at Chicago’s vintage venue, The Metro, this past March 7th. Chicago probably doesn’t generate the ‘coolness’ that starting your tour in a city that shares a name with a song in your catalog does, but the band seemed to care less. They even noted that “it’s always a good time in Chicago.” Such showering of exalting exclamation proved to be no ruse as they roused the city’s attendees. Marking the end of their tour, it was as if though the group needed cleansing of the residue accumulated across its duration. They let the wash douse everyone’s ears and sentiments, and no one seemed to mind given that the weather had already sprayed them with a light watering.
Photo: Kelley Ryan
(click to enlarge)
It proved to be coincidental, but fitting then, that the show opened with the sinuous “George Michael.” The tune is mesmerizing enough to hook attention, and soluble enough to allow a limitless array of segues. From here, Tapes ‘n Tapes was free to venture into any which direction. They decided to follow with “Manitoba.” Although not one of my favorites, they managed to inject it with some type of pregnant urgency. And here I was awakened to the possibility that the four may be better live than their recordings suggest. This is by no means a blow at their discography, their debut The Loon (2006) is an admirable and at times valiant effort, but some puzzle seems to fit together for them on stage. “Manitoba” cocooned from a mediocre ballad of almost negligible dimensions, to a song christened by some Minnesotan wood sprite when played live. Things were about to heat up.
The party really got started, as I had expected it would, with the inception of their Gang of Four-esque rocker “Hang Them All.” A ghoulish red drowned the scene, as the audience bobbed their heads as buoys in a bloodied sea. Gill and King would be proud, as Josh Grier howled “Hang Them All/Hang Them All/Hang Them All/Hang Them All/need you to bleed for something.” But it was Erik Appelwick who painted his furor—almost literally—onstage, covering the back wall with his colossal shadow as he struggled to tame his rabid bass head. A member of the audience murmured to me that “the bass player is a monster,” and I eagerly agreed. I was reminded of Nightmare on Elm Street as his shadow fluctuated as violently as the stock market as of late. Big kudos to him for his passionate performance.
Thereafter, the energy ran pretty much unbridled. The group stopped only a handful of times to introduce a new song, a little sooner than halfway through the set, and to reiterate their fondness for Chicago, which of course garnered hoots and hollers. Another commendable choice was to end their set with the frenzied protest of “The Dirty Dirty.” Grier baptized the night, knighting an amp with his guitar as the song drew to a close. It is oddments like these that usually elevate a show for me to a higher regard. And so I knighted Tapes ‘n Tapes’ last show of the tour, at the Metro, with a smile.