Gay Beast 7-Inch Release Party at 7th Street Entry

Gay Beast at the Entry - Photo by Jenn Barnett

For a band whose music seems to verge on complete chaos, Gay Beast’s show at the Entry last Friday was the work of a band in complete control of its music. Celebrating the release of their new EP, Charm, the Minneapolis trio played for barely 30 minutes and all of roughly a half-dozen songs, but it was enough to suggest the local noise rockers are more than ready for the two-week European tour they’re embarking on this week.

It was a busy night at First Avenue, what with the Best New Bands Showcase taking place next door and no fewer than three openers for Gay Beast. People passed freely between the two events for most of the evening, thanks to the cheap admission and crossover fees. The crowd in the Entry swelled at different points throughout the evening before things had really gotten going in the Mainroom, but by the time Gay Beast set up, most people had shifted next door.

Those who stayed were a comparatively small lot, but they seemed plenty focused on proceedings – as well they needed to be. Straight off the bat, the band sounded tight, with Dan Leudtke laying into the synth riff that opens “Eeexxxpppaaannndddiiinnnggg” from the Second Wave LP. “Now is the right time!” he screeched, his words sounding as much like a statement of intent as they were menacing. The music was jagged and dissonant, full of arrhythmic snaps and starts, but carried off with such precision that its political overtones took on an almost violent quality.

Leudtke’s presence commanded the stage, his large glasses, buzz cut hair, and gaudy shirt flashing in the spotlights as he flailed about and hammered at his keys. Across the stage, Isaac Rotto was calm and sharply dressed, head down, shirt sleeves rolled up with a red-and-black-striped tie as the ends of his guitar strings bobbed about. In back, Angela Gerend anchored the havoc with her rolling drum work, locking in tightly to Leudtke’s leads with the snare barrages and cymbal crashes that Rotto spiked his guitar shreds over.

As the show progressed, it became easier to pick out tunes buried deep beneath the cluttered textures and see order in the music. A twisted sort of groove even began to emerge, prompting Leudtke to pull out his sax and blow frantic, off-key bursts while members of the audience began dancing. The momentum continued to build until the final song, a new one from the EP called “We Keep Our Victims Ready.” It was a thrilling piece, carrying a big rhythm and featuring some of the night’s most frightening moments as Leudtke chanted largely indecipherable phrases.

And just like that, with the feedback still ringing in everyone’s ears, the show was over. The audience seemed surprised at the rather abrupt ending, some saying they were just getting into it while others called out for an encore, but to no avail as the band members quickly went about packing up their equipment. Coming from a band that carries itself so enigmatically and keeps things carefully, if barely, reined in, such an ending was a plenty appropriate sendoff.

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