Small Towns Burn A Little Slower / Somerset - live in Minneapolis (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Small Towns Burn A Little Slower / Somerset

live in Minneapolis (2004)

live show

So I arrived early for this show under the premise that, yes, I'll be reviewing it for, and people hate it when you say, "Well, I got there a bit late and missed the opening band." The only problem is: I got there way too early. In fact, I got to the Triple Rock before the doors even opened, which means only one thing: boring waiting time before the show starts without any friends around since none of them come for the opening acts. Luckily, I knew a few people there, and they played Wu-Tang's "36 Chambers" as the opening music, so the hour of waiting went quickly.

The first band up was Farewell My Enemy. They play music that could generally be classified as "screamo," which, if you know me, made me pre-disposed to being critical of them. In my opinion, the style is too overplayed these days, and I tend to get bored with it easily. Farewell My Enemy impressed me though. They held a certain level of professionalism and musicianship that was extremely respectable. The songs were well written, and everything sounded great. In fact, they probably had the best sound quality out of any of the bands that played, and I felt really bad that they had to open the show. Definitely worth seeing live. Their stage presence was fine tuned and intense.

Next was Rise to Rust, a band that's been generating a small buzz around the Minneapolis area. They sucked. Basically, imagine a bunch of 18-19 year old kids trying to play Propaghandi with more screaming and "Whoa-oh!" backing vocals. Not only was the music predictable and sloppy, but the singer kept throwing out semi-political statements that had no reasonable backing. Examples: "Let's watch this empire fall," or "This song is about mass media conglomerates. Fuck Fox News" (which is very silly and ironic because they often play Clear Channel booked shows). They also had a song about when the singer got T.P.ed. Lame.

Ever We Fall then took the stage and attempted to rock out a boring, uninteresting version of semi-prog indie rock. Extended intros and long songs doesn't make the quality of the songs any better. The vocals were off key too. That bothered me a lot.

Somerset took the stage, and the crowd started to grow a bit. They were supposed to headline this show, but instead asked Small Towns to headline it since it was Small Towns' last show in Minneapolis for two and a half months. Not to mention that it was also the kick off for the Rise Records Tour. Besides Forrest falling down during the first song, the show generally went well. It was my second time seeing Somerset with their new guitarist, JT, and while there were some glitches, overalll the addition of vocal harmonies outweighs the small mistakes. Claudio's drumming never ceases to amaze me with it's amazing technicality, while Forrest's vocals could sing me to sleep every night. Not to leave anyone out, Matt Broadbent's bass lines add the final touch to Somerset's sound, incorporating not only amazing roots and harmonies, but also some of the craziest riffs that I've seen pulled off live night after night. They played a collection of old and brand new songs, one that was even written while on tour recently. The only problem was that for some reason, the guitar amps were not mixed in the PA, so whatever side you were standing on had too much of one guitar part while the other was almost inaudible. I'd say their show was at least an 8. Overall, it was a crowd pleasing show, but a little confusing. Normally Somerset has a fair crowd of 16 year olds dancing and going nuts, but they seemed to be missing at this show...

...unfortunately, I found them. They were saving themselves for Small Towns Burn a Little Slower. Now, this was my third time seeing Small Towns play, but only the second with the new line-up. They didn't impress me then, and they don't impress me now. To sum up their sound, they remind me of something like New Found Glory if they had more of an underground sound and a scenester attitude. Not be left out, on their first song they had a guest come on stage and scream. Completely unnecessary. I remember hearing this song before in a live version, and there definitely was no screaming. I swear, if another "emo" band adds screaming in a song, I'm going to start slaughtering everything that has black hair and gauged ears. My real problem with Small Towns is with the arrangement. The drumming is really sloppy, repetitive, and boring. And the fills are generally off time. The bass is the most simple, boring, repetitive bass I've ever heard in music. The vocals are really generic for this genre of music. The only thing that can be salvaged is the guitars, which play interesting lines every once and a while. I'd give Small Towns performance a 3 or 4.

Well, two bands were worth seeing, and three weren't. If you're interested in the Rise Records Tour, I'd say Farewell My Enemy will probably be the show stealer and worth checking out. Bonus: Tommy from Small Towns was selling his old CDs for $5 and I picked up Joan of Arc's "Live in Chicago, 1999." Score.