Sass 'Chew Toy' Release 5/31Jun 03, 2019
Minneapolis four-piece Sass has been a sweet and shiny star in the local scene for years. Whether it was in the mainroom for First Ave’s Best New Bands 2017 or the tiniest room at the Eagles Club, Sass gained local fans with their catchy, vulnerable hooks and towering, fuzzed out instrumental catharsis. The anticipation for the band’s first full length has been steadily building since the release of their Wet Paint EP in the Fall of 2017 at the Triple Rock Social Club (RIP). Recorded around the same time as the Wet Paint’s release, Sass’ debut album Chew Toy was celebrated with an energetic and well-deserved official welcome at the 7th St Entry Friday night, a party complete with a bill stacked with local favorites and pastel colored balloons.
The excitement was palpable as people filed inside from the newfound summer heat and the first band, Products, started off playing to an already sizeable crowd. With their charismatic and irreverent vocals and guitar melodies, Products transferred their upbeat energy to get the room bouncing and smiling with a cover of Camper Van Beethoven’s ‘Club Med Sucks’ and original hits like ‘Nude Review’. Donning a beret and setting down his pink Fender Mustang, lead vocalist Alex Hanson encouraged everyone to stick around for a full night of local music.
Next up was a rare appearance from Daisy Chains, a band whose layered guitar twangles and sweet lap steel melodies captured everyone’s hearts, at times building to a satisfying intensity pushed toward the edge by unique sustained vocals and rootin-tootin basslines, wonderfully toeing the line between post-punk and folky old time rock n’ roll.
The last opener of the night was up-and-coming local trio Gully Boys, ramping up the energy of the last two bands with delightful and driving grunge punctuated by tight harmonies and the powerful, impressive grit of Katyee Callahan’s lead vocals. The soaring distorted riffs and robust vocal melody culminated with favorite ‘Neopet Graveyard’, perfectly setting the stage and energizing the crowd for the final act of the night. The clear love and support each band on the bill showed each other was wonderful to see.
With the crowd bolstered by excellent openers and the room approaching capacity, finally it was time for Sass to take the stage. Stepping out to a crowd full of family, friends, and longtime fans, band members Stephanie Jo Murck, Alex McCormick, Joey Hays, and Willem Vander Ark capped off the night with a characteristically high energy set. Kicking it off with a couple of new songs, they soon launched into the new album with favorites like ‘Role Model’ and last year’s music video single ‘Spoiled By Rotten’, the band biting back smiles as the crowd sang along to Murck’s witty and personal, yet relatable, lyrics. The feeling in the room was something special as heart strings were pulled taut along the emotional catharsis of the album’s eponymous song ‘Chew Toy’, the nostalgic guitar riffs building higher and higher, soaked in the meaningful recognition of every experience that led to this moment. The crowd grew tighter and the band fed off the room’s energy as people moshed to Vander Ark’s screams on a personal favorites ‘Seesaw’, balloons bouncing over heads and around the stage. Closing with their very first single ‘Velvet’, Sass perfectly capped off the night with a slew of melodic guitars and catchy pop vocals, ramping up one last time at the very end to give the crowd one more tumble.
Congratulations to Sass for a successful release show and excellent first album! The culmination of years of hard work paid off and couldn’t have been presented with better company. Radio K is so happy to have presented this great show, and can’t wait to see what lies ahead for Sass.
By Erin Stevenson
Photos by Eleanore Stevenson