The Palma Violets played to a packed, dark, sweaty room called The 7th St. Entry in Minneapolis on Memorial Day, and if you were there, you probably enjoyed it. If not, here’s what you missed: the set list was solid (14 songs plus an encore of three), the sound was loud (which overtook clarity at points) and the party was all Palma. The room holds 250 people and I don’t l know if it was sold out but it was close. Like a stoplight, the lights above the stage flashed red, yellow and green but the only signal heeded was green because accelerating is what Palma Violets do best.
The Violets hail from England and if you want to find out a little bit about the band, their two albums or what the expectations are for the group, it’s not hard to find. They’re the most recent in a long line of talented English groups (see: Stone Roses, Oasis, Pulp, Blur, Wombats, Libertines, Arctic Monkeys, etc, etc) to be loved, hyped and high fived by fans and critics in the U.K. and U.S. When you listen to their albums, 2013’s 180 and 2015’s Danger in The Club, it’s easy to hear why they have fans. But when you see them live it’s easy to see how they’ve created a buzz.
During the show, the band didn’t talk much, but they played hard. The bassist, Chilli, (great energy, great presence) had the simultaneous look of both friend and foe. He was menacing, antagonizing and in love with his crowd all at once. Front man, Samuel Fryer, looked like my buddy, Adam, and wore an Indiana Jones hat—his alter ego could be Adam Jones—but not the Adam Jones who plays baseball for the Baltimore Orioles. Maybe he already has a way cooler alter ego name like, Domino Death Ray. Either way, dude has his own thing going on and it’s pretty cool. Chilli, Samuel, the drummer William and the guy on keys, Jeffrey, played fast and with the kind of passion you’d expect from a young band trying to make an impression on a fresh fan base.
They opened the set with “Peter & the Gun.” Other than the guy behind me who wouldn’t shut up it was a great opening. The organ kicked it off, the rest of the band took the stage and Chilli and Samuel sent the crowd into frenzy. The frenzy didn’t stop for 13 songs without much room to breathe in between tunes. The set continued with: “Rattlesnake Highway,” “All the Garden Birds,” “English Tongue,” “Tom the Drum,” “Girl You Couldn’t Do Much Better on the Beach,” “Matador,” “Johnny Bagga’ Donuts,” “Danger in The Club,” “14” with an encore of “Chicken Dippers” and “Last of the Summer Wine.” One of their final songs, “Walking Home,” felt like a Replacements jam and favorites were “Best of Friends,” “Step Up for the Cool Cats” and “We Found Love.” They also covered two songs—bits of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds “Death is Not The End” and Hot Nasties “Invasion of the Tribbles” closed the night. And all of it was played as loud as possible.
Their songs sound a lot different through stereo speakers than they did live but they translated well to the stage. My simple takeaway is this: live, they’re a punk band with an organ but the music on their albums suggests they’re polished. They sound a bit like early Arctic Monkeys and, interestingly, The Doors. It’s a fun recipe and a tasty result so if you’re into that sort of dish, they’re worth checking out.
Experience the Palma Violets and their excellent openers, Public Access TV, in the following cities in the coming weeks: Denver on the 29th, Salt Lake City on the 30th, Seattle June 1st, Portland on the 2nd, San Francisco on the 4th and their final U.S. show is slated for June 5th in Los Angeles.