Mark Mallman @ Turf ClubNov 29, 2013
Thanksgiving’s Eve was a perfect day to catch a late show with Mark Mallman headlining.
Thanksgiving’s eve was a perfect day to catch a late show with Mark Mallman headlining. Of course the holiday made this Wednesday a virtual Friday but also was conducive for a show that was delivered with tenacious energy, followed by explosive energy, and then some more energy with your favorite preceding adjective after that. I can lie around on the holiday to catch up; what we had here was a great demonstration of the strength of our local music scene. Three acts were up for this show. Bomba de Luz, Botzy, and Mark Mallman closing the night. Just by looking at these three names prior to the show I knew I would see a great variety of both music style and genre. On that note, I was pleasantly surprised at how cohesive the show turned out to be.
BOMBA DE LUZ
Having not seen Bomba de Luz before I figured I should do some homework on them. Looking just about anywhere I read that first of all, this band is very young with one member still in high school, and I think a band that plays this well combined with their youth should make anyone keep Bomba on their watchlist. Starting things off we have a four-piece, with primary vocalist and acoustic guitar player Lydia Liza. It was obvious why this group has been positively reviewed before. Liza’s voice was strong and on key, verses were melodic, and I was particularly impressed with how well she could whistle as she did for a verse in their second song. To her right, a KAWAI 88-key electric piano was played by John Blanda with hands that danced up and down, took many solos, had quite a presence and was very talented. There was a strong jazz presence in the keyboards, much like the bass where there was also a strong jazz component to the style. There was great talent on the bass, very smooth, played by Gavin Taylor-Stark.
What I only learned after meeting with the band after their performance is that in this show they were missing their principal guitar player. Their songs and the parts were thus shuffled a bit to make this exception to their performance. The keys were turned up more than one would normally hear and Liza’s guitar turned down (BUT they might have been taking cues from Mark Mallman, as noted below). I think the best and most accurate review could benefit from seeing all five members playing together, and they want us to see it too. Their next show is at the Triple Rock on December 6.
“Botzy is the consummate Minneapolis rap hustler” was advertised on the walls of the Turf Club. I found similar descriptions that really mulled words around in a nebulous way, but the truth is, you want to see Botzy live. Botzy knows how to bring energy to the stage and how to bring that energy down to the dance floor, literally by jumping off the stage and performing with the droves of people that got up from their tables and stools to dance to his work. We’ve now turned the energy up.
Botzy’s presence and style were refreshing and intriguing at the same time. Refreshing in that his use of body language and gestures were purely there to add to the performance and not to promote his character outside of the performance (said another way: he gestured to his music, not to his physical appearance or appendages). This is something you don’t get to see unless you see him live. The beats were solid, a cross of drum n’ bass with some synthesizer flair, and he engaged the audience in a way that really communicates that he loves his music and his fans, and he loves Minneapolis.
The headliner Mark Mallman set up his equipment in order from least to most important, so the piano was brought up to stage last. Anyone who knows Mallman knows that he not only plays the piano, but does so with one foot and sometimes two—like Jerry Lee Lewis would have famously done. He stomps his foot on the piano and the audience stomps their feet on the floor. Wearing his trademark—all-white Ray-Ban New Wayfarers—he started bringing the non-stop energy that only the most dedicated artists would provide to their fans in any show. Every song saw Mallman communicating with the mixing board, calling for more volume from the keyboard, again and again.
I’ve been talking about the energy at this show ad nauseam, right? But I had to since this is where the overdrive energy FX box gets turned on (of course this metaphorical box is the foot-stomp style—did I need to mention that?) and Mallman begins to show you how hard he’s working by taking on a profuse sweat. Mallman and his band delivered energy at a level that’s hard to comprehend unless you see it. He drove the entire band by ruling the audience. He told a story of a doctor he visited, where he wasn’t sick or ill, but said to this doctor “I have music!” I think we can let that one slide since ruling the audience he was still doing (and never stopped during the entire set). It was really quite hypnotic, but in a way that makes you feel like six cups of coffee and a pitcher of beer rather than your blissful, slumber-type.
Mallman’s songs were driven by the tight snare drum and repetitious eighth notes on the piano. Moving through the set there were so many sightings of feet on the keyboard, you wonder if the lower octaves even can function with this kind of treatment. He played the crowd’s favorite, “Double Silhouette” near the end.
In a stage and audience manipulation, Mallman yelled “clear the scene” and he brought the band back and moved to cue the band in from the drums, to the bass, to the guitar—and surprised you with a brief cut-out and a quip about booze—then hit the keys harder than if he was now playing with bottles of booze in his hands. It was completely and utterly Mark Mallman. Check out more photos below, check him out live, and bring your spare piano.
Written by and Photos by Evan Weitz
Photo of Botzy courtesy of True Muse