LIVE IN MPLS | 4/23: The Maine and Real Friends at the Varsity


by Jordan and Gracia

Editor’s Note: For the much-anticipated The Maine/Real Friends show at the Varsity last week, Jordan and Gracia teamed up to review. Jordan handled The Maine, while Gracia tackled Real Friends.

This was my fourth time seeing Real Friends live and they seem to just get better every time. The band’s first show was in the basement of a banquet hall, so playing at the Varsity Theater was a big step forward for them. The crowds at Real Friends shows grow in size and energy every time, this time more than 400 people strong and roaring with energy; all proof that the band is becoming bigger and better every day.

Their setlist never disappoints, always keeping a balance between their songs from their new album, Maybe This Place Is The Same And We’re Just Changing, and old favorites like, “Late Nights in My Car.”  New and old, their songs have meaning that just about every fan can relate to, and it was very obvious tonight. You can see the fans soaking up the band’s energy, you can feel the excitement in the air, surrounded by people that want to be there just as much as you do.

The familiar faces of this band are enough to make the crowd wild, all pushing and shoving just dying to get closer to them. Lead singer Dan Lambton’s jumpy dance moves and bassist Kyle Fasel’s commentary about the importance of the Varsity’s bathrooms (and the importance of washing hands) made the show that much better. This is a band that not only plays great music, but connects with the crowd. They talk to people in the audience, they share their Minnesota stories. They want to be there just as much as the fans do, and it gives the show a sense of community. Being in a crowd of smiling fans all screaming along to the lyrics we all know and love makes me feel like the luckiest person in the world. I will never stop loving this band, and they will never cease to impress me.

Then the lights fade. The giant “M” logo is the only thing that shines. Streaks of blue light flare as the members of The Maine walk out to commence the Minnesota stop of the American Candy Tour with their new song, “Miles Away.”

The crowd also lights up to the emotional jam and everything is seemingly perfect. Except The Maine never seem to make eye contact or acknowledge the crowd’s presence…

“Oh no! I’m in the Varsity and I’m not going to get an intimate performance!?” I think to myself.

That was when singer John O’Callaghan broke out a wild, ear-to-ear smile, looked me in the eyes, and shouted, “Minneapolis, this is going to be one crazy m$%@&#% of a night!” From that moment on it was apparent the Arizona-based band was here to give everyone, including themselves, a fun night.

The band expertly spanned their diverse catalog; playing everything from the acoustic-pop sing-along, “Into Your Arms,” to their new ‘90s-esque rock tune, “English Girls.” “Growing Up” proved to be the night’s highlight, the perfect song to show that the style-evolving band truly doesn’t give a damn about what anyone else thinks (“Growing up won’t bring us down”), they just do what feels right.

This attitude engulfed the crowd as we danced to the groovy “Same Suit, Different Tie” without a care. As the show came to a close with “Right Girl,” O’Callaghan goofily told us to, “Eat your vegetables, drink your milk, wear your seatbelt, and just be nice to each other!” With statements like that and nonsensical pump-ups like “Who here is going to have a birthday!?” how could anyone leave the show without a grin? The Maine will always be welcome in Minnesota as long as they continue to bang out shows like this one.

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