For the past few weeks I've been trying acclimate myself to the world of the blog... the blogosphere as I believe it's become known. With commercial radio becoming increasingly stale and, for lack of a better word, lame, music blogs have become a go-to source for the latest new music in the indie rock arena. There are seemingly billions of them out there, but as I researched it became clear that there are a few key sites who consistently provide a steady stream of quality music for their readers. Normally it comes in the form of a brief description followed by a link to an MP3 download. The format is pretty ingenious actually. It's quick and easy, really informative and as you narrow down the sites with which you share similar tastes, it becomes a daily routine to stop by your favorite music blog to see what they've got cooking.
This is how I discovered Minneapolis' Tapes N Tapes. Scrolling through GorillaVsBear, a Dallas-based music blog (and one of my favorites), I came to a post listing tour dates for this band. Clicking on the MP3, I knew instantly that this was something special and immediately clicked the "more MP3s" link which took me to the band's official site. After downloading three more tracks from Tapes N Tapes' self-released debut album, I immediately reached out to the band's manager for more info and to get on the list for their forthcoming Chicago show. As I continued to build my music blog library, it became clear that the entire blogosphere seemed to share my high opinion of this band, with countless sites giving their two cents on why Tapes N Tapes were special. Some of the NYC blogs had just been treated to performances from the band at Mercury Lounge and Pianos and the live critique remained enthusiastic, only increasing my anticipation for their arrival in Chicago (as did the arrival of the band's full length late last week).
On Saturday (January 14), Tapes N Tapes finally made their way to the Windy City for a performance at the intimate North Side venue, Schubas. They were the second of four bands and were set to go on at 10PM. Entering the venue shortly before the scheduled time, I was surprised to have no trouble whatsoever making my way all the way to the front of the stage, where I gladly settled in and waited for the band to finish setting up. As they took the stage I realized that the photo I had seen floating around on the web was pretty accurate. In true indie rock fashion, the four members of Tapes N Tapes look like the guy who bags your groceries at Whole Foods, the dude from Blockbuster who knows everything about movies and/or your pal from the local coffee shop who knows how to make your non-fat skim latte better than anyone else in the universe. In other words, they look like a bunch of regular dudes. With no gimmicks, no fancy outfits, not even complicated indie rock haircuts, the brothers Tapes let their music speak for itself. And luckily for them, it has a Shakespearean-like vocabulary.
Mixing experimental and pop elements into an indie rock smoothie worthy of Jamba Juice, Tapes N Tapes ran through much of their debut album during their short set. They seemed quite at home on the small Schubas stage and didn't waste much time with on stage banter, save for a brief story about how their van broke down on the way to the show that night. In good spirits regardless, the band proved more than able to capture the moments of passionate intensity that first attracted me to their recording in a live setting. Frontman Josh Grier is an intense performer that feels his music through his entire body. With spastic gyrations to accompany the more aggressive moments of the band's set, Grier sings like a man possessed, with squinting eyes and a red face that seems capable of exploding from sheer internal pressure at any moment.
Tapes N Tapes are young, unsigned and making some of the best indie rock on the planet right now. With undeniable hooks, smart lyrics and a penchant for the extraordinary, this band looks to be the next big "find" for the blogosphere (see Clap Your Hands Say Yeah). They're not the finely polished, radio-ready rock band that have the "look" and fit nicely into a little pre-packaged genre. Instead, they are innovators with great songs, a live show that will only get better as their career begins to take off and an ever-growing fan base of real music fans who know what's what. Example: by the time their set ended on Saturday, the room had swelled to capacity with brand new fans calling for more.