They weren’t the first local band this year to sell out First Avenue their first time as a headliner. Polica accomplished that back in February. They weren’t even the first to do it this month. Pert Near Sandstone also packed the place a week earlier. And like Pert Near, they did it without the heavy 89.3 the Current airplay or mad blogger buzz that Polica and Solid Gold before them had going into their debut sell-outs.
The 4onthefloor had to be the first band of this ilk to accompany their sold-out show with a Jumbotron, though. Ever the resourceful young bucks -- you should get a load of the tour bus they got their hands on, too -- the furry faced foursome somehow crammed a giant Lite-Brite-like screen onto the stage behind them. Throughout Friday’s 90-minute set, the backdrop flashed different patterns and images, part '70s roller-rink and part Madonna half-time show.
Fun stuff, but the really impressive display was at the front of the stage, where 4onthefloor's members were lined up in their usual row with their kick drums at their feet, but they played unusually tight and with great purpose. You could tell this moment was as big to them as the video backdrop was to the stage. After spending much of the winter and spring on tour, the band was ready for this one, a chance to show hometown fans the positive effects of hard touring. “I’m planning a homecoming show the day we get home from our next tour,” frontman Gabriel Douglas promised the crowd. “I’m not gonna sit around Minnesota for two weeks waiting for this. I need this.”
A sell-out is one thing, but keeping a packed crowd intensely involved for an entire show is another. They had the crowd singing/howling along to “Lionehearted” and “Junkie” at the start of the set as loudly as they did for “On Tuesdays” and “Undertow” near the end, and it was the rare rock show where folks actually danced on the dance floor.
Perhaps a subtle jab at Howler frontman Jordan Gatesmith (who claimed that our scene has been in a lull for the last 20 years in the same interview where he trashed 4otf), the band threw in two excellently chosen Minnesotan songs from the past decade: Retribution Gospel Choir's "Working Hard," followed a few songs later by Cloud Cult's "That Man Jumped Out a Window." The latter showed off more of a melodic, anthemic side to 4otf that might be interesting to hear the band explore more in the future. It was still no match for the guttural, bluesy, slide-guitar throttling of “Workin’ Man Zombie,” though. Things got a little too bro-rock in the encore jam through Chicago’s haze-dazed “I’m a Man,” but by then the show only felt like a victory lap, anyway.
Click here for Leslie Plesser's photo gallery from the show, which also featured the Evening Rig and Boys N' the Barrel.