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Tapes ‘n Tapes & the Melismatics at Fine Line Music Cafe (Minneapolis, MN)

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Sunday night’s occasion was alive in spirit as a half dozen bands collected in support of Mercedes Gordon, a local resident who was severely injured in the collapse of the 35W bridge in early August. Among the bands playing were local favorites such as Coach Said Not To and The Melismatics, Hershey, Pennsylvania’s The Ocean Blue and headliners Tapes ‘n Tapes.

The Melismatics opened the band’s set with a clashing track, one that focused closer on a brutish punk sound, all the while suggesting by their appearance a feeling of cheekiness akin to that of Towers of London. And despite their ragged leather, greasy hair and stimulating motioning about the stage, they, like Towers of London, over the course of their set defined themselves as anything but punk rock. Through her smacking synth and bulging rhythm guitar relative newcomer, Pony, developed a tightly knit pact with lead guitarist and vocalist Ryan Smith – one that intentionally set out to toss aside crowd expectation in favor of the moment.

Bobbing about between jagged guitars and indulgently poppy rhythms The Melismatics began to encourage a comparison to that of the UK’s young Subways, though the groups’ recordings would do little to suggest as such. Truly a “they’re much better live” band if ever I have seen one, The Melismatics delivered what was the most lively set of the evening with its four members sounding as tight as though they were a three piece.

Before Tapes ‘n Tapes seized the stage, Gordon’s fiance and local DJ Jake Rudh took the stage in the most humanizing occasion I have ever experienced at a “concert.” Introducing and saluting the neighbors, firefighters and strangers who not only helped save Gordon’s life, but the lives of others in the tragedy Rudh compassionately addressed those involved and in doing so his words and invitation gave a face to the generally faceless disaster. In a society that has become grossly desensitized to much of its environment and tragedy it was entirely hope inspiring to witness the uplifting statements of those involved in such a disaster, something that gave this night meaning above and beyond any of the fantastic music that the audience was treated to.

Tape ‘n Tapes played what has become quite routine for the band, a solid set with sporadic high spots and cordial moments of improvisation mixed in for good measure. While the group leaped into a number of new songs (many of which have been surfacing since early this past summer) the night’s inspiration came with the spirit of the occasion. Not even a momentous set could take the spotlight away from the words and thoughts that the audience had witnessed prior to the band’s set.