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LIVE AT THE GARAGE | Review & Photos: Bomba de Luz, Wang Mango, Automatic Imagery + more

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Review by Sararosa

Photos by Keenan

Friday, October 4 was the end of a long week of anticipation for me and many others. When last period came around at school, I swear that the whole student body let out a collective sigh as we walked out the doors of our school’s new building. The flood of feet hitting the concrete sidewalks of downtown St. Paul was definitely a sign that we were all ready for the weekend, and I’m sure that students at many other schools felt the same way.

Friday nights show at THE GARAGE was a similar picture.The eclectic line up of bands like Wang Mango, Bomba de Luz, and Automatic Imagery brought in a varied crowd, most of whom seemed to be students getting off of school for the week. For a lot of us, this show was a reward for making it through, and boy, did the bands present.

The first act on the lineup was To the Sky, a one man folk act, who with his skilled guitar playing and unique rusty voice helped us all mellow out a little. I particularly liked his cover of “Brown-Eyed Girl” and how his guitar and voice meshed together to create a simple, no-nonsense cover of a great song.

Grayson DeWolfe followed, and with his milky voice and wide range he enchanted a lot of the audience.  DeWolfe sparked a few cheers from the crowd when he played a new song of his called, “Like I Don’t Feel a Thing.”  Through this song, I could see why his sound was so appealing to the audience, who stood there mesmerized and intent, leaning in. With its trickling piano in the verses, and waterfall-like chorus, there is something for everyone in the instrumentation. The highlight of this set for me was his cover of Maroon 5s,” She Will Be Loved.” Since his voice is so much richer than that of Maroon 5’s lead singer, the sad lyrics were accentuated and even more wishing than the original.

Shortly after Dewolfe’s set, Fletcher Todd took the stage in the lounge. With his guitar and surprisingly delicate voice, Todd also enchanted the audience in the room. His voice and song-writing style reminded me of Jeremy Messersmith. His lyrics and presence were more intense than his actual self, but I really liked that.

Another great lyricist in the lounge after Todd was James Franken. With just mixes playing on a speaker behind him, Franken’s lyrics and presence shined. In the casual, sly smile on his face, you could tell he that he really loved being up there. There was a genuine warmth in the room. My favorite lyric of his was this one line, “I ain’t trying to raid dreams.” Something about that line really represented his performance to me.

Elizabeth Kupchella followed, and with her rich, solid voice, played some covers and original songs.

The last three bands on the main stage were Automatic Imagery, Wang Mango, and Bomba De Luz.

Post-rock band Automatic Imagery surprised me with just how formidable their talent was live. The addition of a vocalist was a great choice for the band, and their song “Split Second” was better than the recording, which I really liked a lot. The instrumentation combined with the vocalist’s husky, almost jazz-like voice and created such a surreal sound that I wish could be captured on recording, but instead will have to have lived in the moment.

After Automatic Imagery, recent GARAGE regulars, Wang Mango took the stage, and as always, went completely crazy. Some highlights from their performance include their guitarist basically throwing himself at the ground, landing on his back, and popping right back up again, continuing to play. Like they’ve done at some other shows, they invited the crowd up on stage with them for the last song. This time instead of dancing with the band, a lot of the crowd laid down on the stage, and one band member even sat on a crowd members lap for a moment.  As always, Wang Mango’s set was highly visual, and the only way you can fully experience their full talent is live.

After many acts, folksters Bomba de Luz helped wind down the show. Lydia Hoglund’s voice was just as rich live as in recording and reminded me of dark chocolate, but what really stood out to me was the band’s stage presence. In Lydia’s banter between songs, I can see why Andrea Swensson of The Current really loves the band.  One hilarious thing Hoglund said at the end of Bomba’s set was,”If you wanted an encore, this is the last song, and if you didn’t this is the second to last song.” As the energy in the room was lowering and as everybody was ready to go home, there was still one more song to play. Hopefully the next week won’t be like that, and we’ll be able to get to THE GARAGE for one more show right away.

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